|Volume XXVIII Issue 24||April 10, 2003|
‘Grand Night’ an audience pleaser again
Lorie Arnold - Reporter
Elon University’s performing arts department presented "It’s a Grand Night for Singing XI" last weekend. This musical revue, compiled by director Catherine McNeela with accompaniment by Sharon LaRocco, provided audience members with an enjoyable evening of song and dance by students.
According to McNeela, who founded the program 11 years ago, this production is unique in that "students have ownership of their pieces," as they direct and choreograph them themselves.
As students choose their selections, they consider a variety of songs from the extensive repertoire they have built as performers.
The final number of the program often holds sentimental significance to the cast. The performance of the final piece begins with the senior cast members and gradually crescendos as additional classes join in on the following verses. The tradition of having the seniors begin the final selection started eight years ago.
"It’s our time to be first [but also] our last time [to perform together at Elon]," said Kiira Schmidt, senior cast member and assistant director.
"Grand Night" remains a popular event each year.
"It’s an opportunity for students to perform and for other students to see them perform…for free," sophomore Lauren Redmond said.
Junior cast member Mike Daly suggests that the program’s success is due to the community’s support of Elon’s arts department.
"[This production] is our way of giving back to the community," he said.
The program was a hit because of its high quality and carefully designed production.
It is a tradition for cast members to dress in black. The decision helps the performers achieve an immediate visual sense of unity as a cast.
The use of few props and minimal set pieces keep audiences from being distracted and allow them to direct their full attention to the actors’ performances. Even though the house was packed, staging the show in Yeager Recital Hall gives the revue an intimate feel.
Highlights from the program included a cleverly choreographed ensemble number, "Magic to Do," from Stephen Schwartz’s "Pippin," the Kander and Ebb "Cabaret" tune and "Two Ladies," performed by Adam Cooley, Kendra Goehring and Alex Ellis.
Act I was brought to a close with the haunting ensemble piece "The Ballad of Sweeny Todd" from Stephen Sondheim’s "Sweeny Todd."
The second act opened with "Single Man Drought" from "I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change," performed by actors Mike Daly, Perry Medlin, Connie Renda and Kiira Schmidt, who utilized their excellent comedic skills.
Act II also brought the charming tap number "Go Into Your Dance," from "42nd Street," and showcased the dancing talents of Lauren Rogers, Kelly Schmidt, Stephanie Swant and Jonathan Stoves.
Another highlight of the evening was performed by Jason Coosner, Buddy Hammonds and Kiira Schmidt. Their rendition of "Steam Heat" from "The Pajama Game" was a Fosse-esque number full of attitude and energy.
The show’s final selection, "Sunday," from Stephen Sondheim’s "Sunday in the Park with George," united the entire company in a moving musical moment shared by both the performers and the audience.
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Elon University Pendulum © 2003