Musical theater cabaret brightens Umble stage

Musical theater cabaret brightens Umble stage

Twenty-nine performers. Three shows. One show-stopping weekend.

In the latest installment of the Goshen College theater department’s “Season of Love and Light,” the college’s music and theater departments worked together to showcase a variety of musical theater and operatic scenes. 

“A Musical Cabaret of Love and Light” was performed over Valentine’s Day weekend: Feb. 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m., as well as a matinee at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 16. While this was not the first time a cabaret like this was performed, 2020 marked the first time the scenes made their way to the Umble stage from Rieth Recital Hall to be more fully realized.

Directors Scott Hochstetler, professor of music, and Marcia Yost, director of engagement and outreach of the arts, sent the cast list to the performers over winter break and provided them with the necessary music. This allowed them to learn their parts before the semester began, so that they could work on blocking — the stage movements exhibited onstage — once they returned to campus. 

The goal of the performances was to “celebrate Broadway and classic operatic works with a fully staged series of scenes,” according to the Goshen College website. 

Fourteen songs from musicals and operas were featured. From In the Heights to Fiddler on the Roof to Chicago, the cast and their accompanist, Deanna Minnick, told multiple stories while communicating one overarching theme: love — romantic, familial and whatever other forms it can take.

Tom Myers, adjunct dance instructor, choreographed the cabaret. His dance routines were eye-catching, ranging from tap to jazz and every method in between. Lisa Rosado Rivera, a junior music and theater double-major, complimented Myers’ choreography and said that it “helped [her] channel [her] character even more.”

Some of the students also changed what aspects of the theater they usually worked with for this particular show. Laura Miller, a junior Spanish and writing double-major, was one of two costumes heads for the cabaret.

“I usually act, but I did costuming this time,” said Miller. “It was challenging because we were trying to figure out how to costume massive groups of people for some numbers — and give them things which they could change in and out of really quickly.”

Rosado Rivera is a veteran when it comes to acting onstage, but even these musical theater performances took her beyond her usual capabilities.

“‘Cell Block Tango’…got me out of my comfort zone on stage,” said Rosado Rivera. “I always get to play characters like the ones in the other two numbers that I was in [‘Look at Me’ and ‘Papageno’], but ‘Cell Block Tango’ in particular took my sexy, bad-girl vibes out of me in a way that I really enjoyed performing.”

The actors involved all had different levels of experience with music, theater or both. But they all had to face one obstacle: playing multiple characters with as much depth as each previous one.

“The biggest challenge for me in this process was to be able to find the focus of each scene,” Rosado Rivera said. “Because the scene transitions were so quick, everyone had to work hard to portray their characters differently based on the different numbers in the show. It was so much fun to get to experience different characters and how their story is portrayed.”

Overall, the cast and crew were delighted with the final product.

“Definitely super happy with how it came together!” Miller said. “It was so fun to watch them singing and dancing so beautifully, and doing it in Lucia’s [Martinez] and my designs.”

The next production to grace the Umble stage will be Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, directed by Michelle Milne, March 27-29 and April 3 and 5. Visit https://www.goshen.edu/academics/theater/upcoming-events/ for more information.

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Written by Cristina Jantz, Staff Writer

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