As the semester winds down and the weather in Gambier warms up, student organizations like the Kenyon College Players (KCP) are taking full advantage of the opportunity to hold some unconventional outdoor productions on campus. This weekend, KCP’s collaborative musical theater cabaret, The Show Goes On, brought a taste of Broadway to a newfound stage: the lawn alongside the Church of the Holy Spirit.
The production showcased a collection of songs from a wide range of musicals, presented as a cabaret through the voices and performances of a seven-actor cast. With limited emphasis on design elements like costumes and an outdoor setting lending a majestic backdrop to the show, the focal point was undoubtedly the music: duets, trios, larger groups and a solo for each cast member.
Grace Felder ’21, making her directorial debut in her final semester at Kenyon, was determined to make up for time and production opportunities lost during the past year of remote learning. Anticipating the continuation of COVID-19 restrictions this spring semester, she began to consider ways for students involved in theater to have the opportunity to perform before the school year was over.
“A collaborative cabaret ended up being the perfect solution,” Felder wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Performers would get the opportunity to sing, dance, and act, while also working on pieces that they’d always wanted to perform.”
In the early stages of rehearsals, the show’s creative team compiled a lengthy list of show tunes — close to 47 pages’ worth, according to Felder — that included solos selected by each actor and non-solo numbers the team felt could be incorporated smoothly around individual pieces.
“What I found especially fun about the selection process was getting to work with a diverse array of show tunes from all eras of Broadway history,” said Felder. “It was great to get to do songs from Oklahoma (1943), Chicago (1975), and Mean Girls (2018) all in the same show.” She credits the performers’ ability to transition seamlessly between scenes, presenting anything from “an upbeat, silly group number to an emotional ballad,” in maintaining an engaged reception to the show.
Felder and others involved in The Show Goes On’s creative direction, including Music Director Katie Kress ’22, were pleased with its outcome and the collaborative contributions made by all cast and crew members. “Whether they were coming straight from another rehearsal or staging a number after sunset as the temperature dropped into the 40s, everyone remained committed and in good spirits,” Felder stated. “For a lot of us, this was our first experience of live, in-person performance in over a year, and I am so proud and grateful that we were able to pull this off.”
A true testament to its title, The Show Goes On served as a meaningful production for Kenyon’s theater community that emphasized the significance of togetherness in — at long last — putting on a harmonious, in-person performance for the community. “It was always supposed to be a celebration of musical theater and a reminder to us all that one day it would be back,” said Felder.