For pop-music lovers, there are the Ransom Notes and the Chasers. For jazz, there’s Take 5. Colla Voce and Männerchor dominate the classical niche. But what about for the musical theater nerds who can’t help but spontaneously burst into their favorite number from Rent?
Early in spring semester of last year, Jono Bornstein ’18 presented his vision of a musical theater-based a cappella group, the Broken Legs, to the Student Life Committee. Despite the fact that numerous a cappella groups already existed on campus, Bornstein believed he could bring something new to the Kenyon community.
Brave Potato and independent productions provide musical theater opportunities — Brave Potato puts on two musicals a year — but these do not satisfy Bornstein, who has been performing in musicals since he was in sixth grade. Bornstein perceived a lack of musical theater-based productions and groups on campus, and he set out to do something about it. “I wanted a group that could constantly do things throughout the semester,” Bornstein said.
By the start of this year, Bornstein, along with a small group of friends, had created the Broken Legs. After Bornstein advertised the group at the activities fair, 35 first years and sophomores auditioned. Of those, 10 students made the cut.
Despite the myriad other a cappella groups on campus, the Broken Legs would only be performing songs from stage musicals, thus setting themselves apart from the rest.
“I think Jono did a really great job of finding a unique part of a cappella that wasn’t currently being offered,” Sam Filkins, assistant director of student activities for leadership, said. “It can be hard with so many groups on campus, but it’s obvious with the result of their auditions that they found a good fit for Kenyon.”
Other established a cappella groups on campus have been willing to help the new group get on its feet, according to Bornstein. “I have more theater experience than a cappella experience, so it’s been amazing to see how welcoming the whole a cappella community has been to us,” he said.
With the first few weeks of classes already behind them, the group is ready to get started.
They’ve decided on its set list, which includes songs from productions such as Chicago and The Book of Mormon. Rehearsals have already begun, with the group meeting six hours per week in Rosse Hall.
Another element that may help set the Broken Legs apart from other groups is its use of movement and choreography. According to Marc Ferraro ’17, the group’s choreographer, they plan to incorporate dance into their performances.
“We really want to somehow preserve the original feeling of theater and a lot of that comes from movement,” Ferraro said.
The Broken Legs still have a long way to go in terms of preparation, Bornstein said. Various members of the group will be working to create the arrangements for each song.
The Broken Legs plan to hold an open rehearsal sometime in early December and their first official performance in the spring.