Among the highlights of Garnet Weekend are two performances of the classic musical Guys and Dolls, a production for — and very much by — the entire College community.
From its student conductor, actors, musicians, and costume and sound designers to faculty and staff who tackled key roles to art studio majors who made placards to mark scene changes to music majors who wrote essays for the program, it’s been all hands on stage. Read more in the Daily Gazette.
“It’s just been wonderful and enriching to collaborate with so many different members of the campus community,” says Andrew Hauze '04, associate in performance. “I hope they take joy from collaborating on such a rich piece together, and a sense of possibility for how musical theater can gather people together, working toward a common artistic goal.”
For conductor Audrey Edelstein ’15, that means transcending the usual role of guiding the orchestra.
“It’s so much more fun being a collaborator, working with actors, directing dialogue, and using the score to support the story,” says the music major from Manhasset, N.Y. “It’s exciting to be a part of every character’s musical moment, to be the linchpin that ties everything together.”
The piece itself draws from an array of influences, Hauze says, presenting an exciting opportunity to the student singers and the 40-piece College orchestra.
“There are Tin Pan Alley soft-shoe numbers," he says, "hymn tunes, corny night club dances, Gospel choir influences, a quasi Irish ballad, gorgeous love songs, patter songs in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan, marches, and an extended sequence drawn from Cuban dance styles.
“Yet, it's not just a pastiche,” he adds. “The script and score cleverly unify all these styles in a cartoon version of New York City circa 1950, and it's been exciting to explore the intersection of all of these influences.”
The full script and score of the musical, including “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat” and “Luck Be a Lady Tonight,” will be presented in concert format. That poses a special challenge for the actors to engage the audience, says cast member Kelly Langhans ’16.
“It’s been hard to walk that line of a concert performance, using our script [with staging limitations] while being sure to make the performance interesting and tell the story,” says the biology major from San Mateo, Calif.
That approach gelled quickly, however, and Langhans and castmates laud Hauze and Edelstein for offering both direction and freedom.
“I was able to create my own choreography for all of my musical numbers,” says Sarah Tupchong ’17, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., “which was both extremely generous of them and really fun.”
Hauze, too, put his own stamp on the production, creating new arrangements of the original orchestrations to suit a large orchestra — an exciting, nerve-wracking, pain-staking process.
“As soon as you change one detail, the whole balance is altered," he says, "so I worked measure by measure to re-cast the original ideas for the new medium. It was great fun to really get inside the score and to re-arrange it for the Swarthmore players that I know.”
Hauze tinkered with and the players learned the new orchestrations through the week of the shows, when rehearsals for the performers ratcheted up. But there were still moments of levity, from a student trio belting an impromptu “Ten Minutes Ago” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella to the cast and Edelstein reading lines as Mean Girls characters. And moments of gravity, like Tupchong sprinting from her phonathon job to sing before a large orchestra for the first time in her life.
“I was really out of breath, but it was exhilarating,” she says. “I’m so thrilled to cross that off my bucket list.”
The performances will take place in Lang Concert Hall on Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. A faculty panel exploring the cultural context of the musical will precede the Saturday show at 7 p.m.