On Nov. 12, Kenyon’s Opera and Music Theater Workshop (OpShop) held their annual winter performance, in Brandi Recital Hall, for the first time in two years.
This year’s performance was titled “An Evening of Solos and Duets,” which consisted of 16 songs selected from musicals and operas. Every member of OpShop performed a solo of their choice, and were paired up to sing at least one duet.
This semester’s OpShop cast was a bit smaller than in previous years. Unlike previous years which have consisted of full musicals or operas, the group purposefully scaled down their performance to solos and duets in case the College tightened COVID-19 restrictions on how many performers could be on stage.
“It was a small but particularly talented group, and I think we all walked away from last night pretty happy with how things turned out,” Kaiya Case ’22 said.
Highlights from the night consisted of Sydney Goldstein’s ’24 costume changes and removal of her shoe during “On the Steps of the Palace” from Into the Woods, as well as Case’s raw and emotional ballad “Sonya Alone” from Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.
It was clear that each performer paid attention to detail with their sustained eye contact during duets and use of props, such as the dagger in Stefano De Maria’s ’22 “Confrontation” from Jekyll and Hyde and the handkerchiefs in “Ohio” from Wonderful Town sung by Goldstein and Linnea Mumma ’22.
Choreography was minimal but effective, as Maren Helmancy ’24 and Case awed the crowd while pretending to be out for a drive in their duet, “Freedom” from The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown. Additionally, Virginia Morgan ’24 and Paul Ridder’s ’23 duet “The Song that Goes Like This” from Monty Python’s Spamalot received many laughs from the audience as they interacted with the pianist and circled the stage.
The last song, “Live Forever” from Moment by Moment, was sung by the entire company, filling Brandi Recital Hall with cheerful harmony.
While COVID-19 restrictions shut down the class for the past few semesters, the group was certainly excited to be able to sing together again. “I am so thankful that we are back, and that I have a wonderful group of students this semester,” Jennifer Marcellana, director of OpShop, said. “This is the first time we’ve had an OpShop performance where the students wore masks, but everybody really rose to the occasion and did a terrific job. The audience could still understand the performers’ words as well as their dramatic intentions.”
Next semester, according to Marcellana, OpShop will be working on a French program, including songs from operas and musicals set in France or containing French words.
Overall, the sentimentality of OpShop’s members made the night’s performance enjoyable. Despite being masked, their glimmering eyes and beaming faces expressed their love for the group. “It’s been a real highlight of my time at Kenyon — it’s a very small niche, full of obscure song selections, odd couples and saccharine choreography, but absolutely beloved by the few of us who find it,” Case said.