Editor’s note: Collegian staff members were performers at the UR Player’s musical showcase.
The University of Richmond Players, a student run theatrical organization, put together a musical theater showcase in the Acting Studio of Modlin Center for the Arts on March 18 and 19 after just three weeks of rehearsals.
The show brought in such a large crowd for the small space on Saturday night that a handful of audience members had to stand throughout the whole performance.
The 16 student cast-members performed musical numbers from shows such as Into the Woods, Les Misérables and Waitress. In total, the show lasted about an hour with a total of 11 songs performed ranging from larger numbers that included the full cast to smaller ones, such as duets and trios.
The show was co-directed by sophomores Anna Phillips and Evelyn Zelmer. The two worked on a very tight schedule, having only held auditions just two weeks prior to spring break. The cast only had three weeks to pull the entire performance together, Zelmer said.
First-year Zack Ruighaver, a cast member in the showcase, said the audition process was fairly simple and fast. After submitting a video of himself singing, Ruighaver received a callback, then was off to rehearsals all within a few days.
Last September, after weeks of rehearsal, a production for the program New Faces was canceled due to a rise of COVID-19 cases among its cast members. This was hugely disappointing for all involved, Phillips and Zelmer said, which made everyone more eager and ready to perform in the musical showcase, as most cast members were previously cast in the canceled show.
Staying up until 1 a.m. some nights to record rehearsal tracks for Zelmer’s castmates before spring break was another one of the many tasks they helped with behind the scenes. Zelmer also bought the props for the show from Party City using their own debit card and mentioned that most of the costumes used in the show were things from their personal closet, they said.
Phillips had to take on the roles of sound and production designer, which allowed her to learn the ropes of programs like QLab. Once she had cut all the tracks and selected the visuals she wanted to incorporate for the backdrop of the performances, QLab allowed her to sync up all the stage cues for the showcase with the push of a button, she said.
It was difficult at times for Phillips to balance her role as both a director and a cast member.
“That was kind of a little tricky, sometimes navigating, how to guide your peers,” she said. “Because it's like, we're the same age. We have the same level of expertise on those things.”
Zelmer said the greatest challenge of putting on a showcase like this was the lack of departmental support.
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Zelmer hopes that moving forward, the theatre department can see that there is a high interest from not only the students who want to perform in shows like this, but also from the students who want to come and watch.
Contact lifestyle writer Bettina Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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