From the farm country of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” to Bernstein and Sondheim’s Upper West Side of New York, students in PC’s Music Theatre program have been learning classics from one of the country’s most memorable eras in musical theater.
They will now bring the music to life in two performances of the show, “Songs of the Golden Age,” beginning this month.
The first show takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31. Students will perform again at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 2. Both performances will be held in Edmunds Hall. Admission is free.
Dr. Christian Elser, director and associate professor of music, created the show in a revue style as a tour of songs, duets and ensembles from the “Golden Age” of the American Musical Theatre (1943-1967).
The production, according to the director, uses a live band, lovely costumes, song and dance. It features music from shows like “Oklahoma,” “South Pacific,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “Guys and Dolls,” “My Fair Lady,” “Man of La Mancha,” “West Side Story” and many more.
“Educationally, the American Musical Theatre is our national art form,” Elser said. “It uses distinctly American dramatic idioms and stories, and musically, pulls not only form European classical music, but also from American jazz, contemporary and even Latin styles. It is a true ‘musical melting pot.’
“Even if you think you don’t know much about musical theater, chances are you will know the vast majority of the songs presented in this program. It’s great fun for all ages.”
The students in the show agree. “Songs of the Golden Age” features baritones Jerius Duncan and Brendan Shaw, as well as sopranos Katelyn Shiley and Rebekah Martin.
“Each scene and song is unique in its own way, and each song represents a different circumstance,” says Duncan. “It’s important for the audience to focus on the puzzle, rather than just focusing on singular aspects of the show. It’s a show that you don’t want to miss.”
Shiley and Martin say the roles and interactions between actors are constantly changing, but they end up having fun together while showcasing the popular tunes.
Shaw, who says his role is a modern African-American male in the 1950s, calls it a revue that will “keep you on the edge of your seat.” He said he enjoyed preparing for the program that “brought me out of my comfort shell” with the styles of choreography and music.
“I love having students really experience this Golden Age music for the first time,” Elser said. “By studying and performing these excerpts, they have gotten a chance to discover the drama and expertly crafted melodies of composers who ‘came before’ like Lerner and Loewe, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Bernstein and Sondheim, and Frank Loesser.”
Hear more from the Department of Music
Along with Musical Theatre’s show, the Department of Music will offer a variety of performances this spring, including the continuation of the PC Music Performance Series, which will feature visiting artists, the Greenville Jazz Collective and Greenville composer, Dr. Jon Grier.
The Spring 2020 calendar also includes the Music at Half Past series on Fridays, student and faculty recitals, and annual spring concerts.
Visit the department’s Events & Performances page for a full calendar, as well as admission and ticket information for shows.