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Actor’s Conservatory packs the house for Musical Revue

(BRANDON BENARBA / THE STATESMAN)
Theatre 3 in the Staller Center hosted the second annual Musical Revue of the Actor’s Conservatory. (BRANDON BENARBA / THE STATESMAN)

The Stony Brook Actor’s Conservatory held its second annual Musical Revue this past Friday and Saturday, drawing a packed house at the Staller Center Theatre 3. The crowd that attended the closing show on Saturday ranged from Stony Brook students with a liking for musical theatre to family members looking to see the talent of their offspring. The performances ranged from Disney classics like “Colors of the Wind,” Broadway favorites like “Take Me or Leave Me” from “RENT,” and selections from New Zealand’s finest folk duo, Flight of the Conchords. The show was hosted by Actor’s Conservatory members Scott Eisenberg and “audience volunteer” Kevin Wieland, who kept the vibe of the show light and very comical with their give-and-take comic style.

Wieland, a senior history major, mentioned that he and Eisenberg had a third host in mind. According to Wieland, “the joke was going to be they never let me introduce anything, which we sort of stuck with.”

Unfortunately, the third host couldn’t make the show, so Eisenberg became the host in charge while Wieland became the fortunate host from the audience. Thankfully that didn’t throw off the duo when it was show time thanks to their great chemistry.

The beginnings of the Musical Revue date back to early February, when the audition process took place. Once the cast was chosen, the song selection process was set immediately into motion. According to fellow Actor’s Conservatory member Eric Noh, the songs in the show were chosen based on the selected cast members and on what the directors thought would be best to present in a show.

“[The directors] came together and asked what the audience wanted and what the cast could sing,” Noh said. “There was no big theme, but we treated it like someone was flipping through TV channel,” meaning the audience could view a variety of genres in brief moments.

From there, rehearsals were about building the performances. Noh talked about the process, explaining how the directors assigned songs with the cast members singing over vocals with the lyrics in front of them. The following week, the cast tried singing without lyrics, and then with just music the week after. In order to keep each performance new and fresh, seven directors managed multiple performances of songs.

This event has a lot in common with a big budget Hollywood movie sequel, at least according to Jeremy Cobb, a former Stony Brook theatre arts and English major who came back to the university to help direct the show. Cobb was a stage manager, director and performer in last year’s inaugural show, and he claims that this year’s show certainly stepped things up.

“I would say this year we had a much larger cast, and also a generally higher level of singing talent than last year,” Cobb praised, also commenting on the greater number of group members that lead to more help with the show.

“Last year, we only had three directors, and then a couple other people helped out during the end. This year we had seven directors, plus help from a bunch of other people, especially during Tech Week.”

As far as the booking of Staller Theatre 3, Cobb described the process of filling out the form to use the theatre. According to Cobb, those who apply need to list the director, stage manager and anyone involved in the tech department. Along with that, there must be a script for the show that a club is doing, proof that the performance rights for the show have been bought, a list of the cast involved, scenic requirements, props, a budget list and the qualifications of the director. There also has to be an explanation on how this performance would benefit the Theatre Department, and then the form is sent in.

According to Cobb, “That process took longer than usual this year because the person who used to run the Theatre 3 retired and it took the Theatre Department a long time to finish updating the application sheet, as well as to process our application once we turned it in.”

Fortunately, the form came in and the show went on smoothly. The audiences roared with laughter and clapped at each emotional peak of the performances. From Harry Potter musical send-ups to the Time Warp from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the Actor’s Conservatory presented a lively show of music and comedy. While it may be the last show for some members of the group who are graduating, it was an impressive send off for the students of Stony Brook with songs in their hearts.

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