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Students taking music of Kurt Weill to the Fringe

Students taking music of Kurt Weill to the Fringe

Students taking music of Kurt Weill to the Fringe

Caitlin Thompson, center, and the rest of her group can be seen for 2 shows Sunday.

Students from the Department of Theatre and Dance at West Chester University will reprise a successful musical theater production they first presented on campus in April Sunday.

At Philadelphia’s Fringe Festival, a 17 day arts festival with diverse offerings, they will perform "Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill: A Musical Voyage." It focuses on the music of the Tony award-winning composer and Berlin native whose work includes such classics as “Mack the Knife.”

Caitlin Thompson, a senior at West Chester and member of the cast, remembers well her first introduction to the music of Kurt Weill.

“I’d never heard of him l before we did this,” said the West Chester native and resident. “But when the cast heard a recording of the musical, it was just beautiful! I had not heard a musical track as beautiful as this. I was so moved by it.”

She gained even more appreciation for Weill’s music â€" and his life â€" as the cast rehearsed.

Like the others in the cast of nine, Thompson was in the ensemble.

“All of us sang in multiple numbers, and each of us also had a solo number,” she said. “Some numbers also included dance.”

Thompson, an alto, was featured in two solos and was one of the narrators. The show is presented in sequences with three or four musical numbers in each sequence.

“For me, the hardest was Threepenny Opera , she said. “Vocally, it was all over the place, with different key changes.”

Costume changes were another challenge. Even though there was one basic costume, the cast members added jewelry, gloves, a jacket or other items for each number.

“In o ne scene I had to run backstage, take off gloves, put on a jacket â€" and run back onstage in about two minutes,” said Thompson.

It was well worth it.

“The audience loved it â€" it was unbelievably popular,” she said. “Everyone enjoyed his story and they loved the music.”

Now she and the others are eagerly looking forward to Sunday’s two performances, at 1 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. in Philadelphia.

Fringe Festival events take place at the variety of venues, and this one will be in a cabaret setting at L’Etage on 6th & Bainbridge Streets.

The show’s director and choreographer is also delighted for this new opportunity.

“The Fringe Festival is a great opportunity for us to showcase the excellent work we do here at West Chester to a larger and more diverse audience,” said Liz Staruch.

There were some challenges in adapting the show to the new venue.

“The stage is really small compared to WCU, so we had to sca le everything down,” said Thompson.

She’s eagerly looking forward to performing her two solos.

“('Surabaya Johnny') tells the story of a woman who is in love with a man who has no respect for her,” said the singer. “Telling the story through her emotions was something new for me. It was especially challenging because it was so intimate.”

But whatever the challenges, this versatile performer can surely handle it. She’s already had roles in varied West Chester U productions. Next month, she’ll have two roles in Antigone She’s not only in the cast but will serve as the sound designer.

Then in December she’ll be director for the university’s AIDS benefit concerts from Dec. 7-9.

The aspiring theater professional will graduate in December with a B.A. in Theatre with a major in musical theater. She plans to audition for professional theater productions in the Philadelphia area.

Right now, she’s focused on the Philadelphi a Fringe Festival performances of Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill this Sunday. It will be her debut with this well known festival, and will also be an opportunity to re-connect with the cast.

“I’m looking forward to a reunion with all the wonderful people who were involved in the WCU production,” she said.

Especially important, this is a chance to reprise this musical theater piece she has come to love for a regional audience and in a new venue.

“I’m eager to bring these roles to life again for a new audience, “she said. “And I’m also looking forward to performing in this cabaret-style venue, which allows for a feeling of intimacy between actors and audience. That’s very special, and it’s an aspect I really love.”

Source: Google News Music

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