The moment I stepped into the Wittenberg Theater Space at The Springfield Museum of Art this past weekend, I could feel the potent energy buzzing around me. Energy full of theater makeup, costume changes, and 15 freshmen excited to put on their first show since moving into Wittenberg. As a part of Family Weekend, The New Student Showcase is a chance for students new to Wittenberg to get their feet wet in the world of college theater. The show, entitled “Hello, Goodbye”, was full of “Hamlet” monologues, “Chicago” and “Secret Garden” solos and rousing group musical numbers including “Hello” from the new, Tony-Award Winning Musical “The Book Of Mormon”.
The theme for the show was especially fitting since this is a time of transition for freshman on campus: transitioning from high school to college, from homes to dorms, and, for these particular theatrical students, from one theater to another. They are saying “Hello” to new experiences and “Goodbye” to past memories.
“I participated in this showcase to get a taste of what’s to come,” Jasmine Jones, freshman biology major, said of her reasoning on joining. Jones is a perfect example on why Wittenberg Theater is such a wonderful opportunity: its inclusivity. Anybody and everybody with a love of theater, whether he is a theater major or biology major, can participate.
Jones’ favorite thing about the New Student Showcase was seeing all of her friends transform into characters onstage. And transform, they did. Dylan George transformed into a twenty-year-old copy boy with rather violent tendencies towards his coworkers with a monologue from Steven Schwartz’s musical, “Working”. Rachel Moore transformed into Velma Kelly with a stirring rendition of “All That Jazz” from the ever popular musical “Chicago”. And everyone was transformed for the finale, with their homage to The Beatles in “Hello Goodbye”, complete with yellow tie-dyed shirts and guitar accompaniment provided by sophomore Matt Nelson.
Of course, their wonderful transformation would have been impossible if it weren’t for Jean Berry, the woman behind the curtain responsible for direction, inspiration and motivation. “She was very patient with us,” Jones said of Berry, “and full of infinite energy all day long!” And this energy is what transferred from Berry to the performers and from the performers to the audience, an energy that the audience not only appreciated, but responded to. And as a member of the Wittenberg community, I would just like to say, “Hello”, to a new class full of such boundless energy and endless talent.
(Katie Mauch / firstname.lastname@example.org)