WTAMU Students Present “Brooklyn: the Musical”
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As the lights dim in the Happy State Bank Studio Theatre, the cast members of “Brooklyn: the Musical” emerge into the audience. The musical begins with 20 minutes of one-on-one interaction between cast members and the audience, followed by a unique show filled with singing, dancing and acting.
“I love to see the integration of music, singing, dancing and acting and how we can tell the story with different mediums and how it makes you feel,” Director Andrew Barratt Lewis said. “It really reaches out to an audience.”
“Brooklyn: the Musical” focuses on five street performers, known as the City Weeds, who present a play under the Brooklyn Bridge. The “sidewalk fairy tale” tells the story of a Parisian girl named Brooklyn who travels to America after her mother dies, gaining fame as a performer in her search to find her father.
West Texas A&M University opens auditions for their performances to all students, whether they are theatre majors or not. This year, close to 65 students auditioned for parts in “Brooklyn: the Musical.”
“When it comes to auditioning, you’ve got to want it, you’ve got to love it, you’ve got to bring it, you’ve got to share it,” said Caleb Summers, who plays Streetsinger in the musical.
Many of the cast members involved in “Brooklyn” most look forward to seeing the audience’s response. Summers said he can’t help but take a glance at some of the people’s reactions in the audience because so many different emotions happen during the show.
Of course, while the audience is a big part of the show, for Madeleine Hale, who plays Brooklyn, her favorite part of the musical is the individuality of each performer and how each song is different from the next.
“The show has such a big heart,” Hale said.
Actors in the play set aside five weeks of their lives for rehearsals. Rehearsals started one week before the fall semester and the cast practiced three times a day until school started, at which point rehearsals were cut to three hours a day.
Aside from the large time commitment these West Texas A&M Students put into “Brooklyn,” they also made some changes in their lives as well.
“The show is extremely vocally and physically demanding and near impossible to pull off unless you are in tip top shape,” Hale said. “My whole diet has changed; my lifestyle has changed. I make sure to go to bed as early as possible every night, and I’m a night owl. I don’t go out, I completely cut out any kind of alcohol or anything acidic in my diet and I really haven’t had a social life at all.”
While the cast prepared for hours for “Brooklyn,” they also made sure to set aside time for traditions and bonding. According to Summers, the boys in the dressing room have a jam session while they get ready for the show. The cast and crew also participates in a “magic circle” in which the group gathers in the acting studio right before the show to warm up and get good vibes going for the performance.
“I hope every person who comes to the show is touched in some way. That’s all I can ask for,” Hale said.
“Brooklyn: the Musical” is playing through Sunday.
Photo Credit: Assistant Professor of Theatre Tana Roberson