Americans embrace the Broadway culture. Back where I’m from (Malaysia), performing arts aren’t as appreciated as it is around here. So when my History in Musical professor assigned us to go watch a show and write a report about it, I was especially excited. I had never been to a Broadway show or even a performed musical, the closest I had came across to live musicals are low-budget high school performances that were mediocre at best.
My professor wanted us to watch Anything Goes played by Marquette students at the Helfaer Theatre here on campus. The play is based on Cole Porter’s musical comedy that ran for 420 performances in New York City back in 1934. The original play is a show about the stories that went on Ocean Greyhound America, an ocean liner bound for London from New York. It had a star-studded cast that includes Broadway diva, Ethel Merman.
Before we went to see the show, we were required to research about the history of the show and write a short biography about Cole Porter and Ethel Merman. Then, we would have to watch the performances and jot down our observations on our report.
On Thursday night, I went to the show with a friend and I was pleasantly surprised at how well done it was! The performers were great, the setting and props were great, the orchestra was great, the dancing was great!
After watching the show, I realized that everybody in the production had excellent indirect communication. The actors had proficiently used cue signals throughout the show. It was subtle, yet effective and the whole production knew what to do all the time. I knew the show was very well rehearsed, but the communication among them was very well done!
I noticed that whenever a song was about to begin, the actors / actresses would say a line that triggers an extra spotlight to be shined on them. Then, their microphones would turn on (their dialogues were conversed in natural voices and carried throughout the theatre) and the orchestra would start playing. The show was set up in a way where tasseled curtains served as the backdrop of the stage and also as a separation curtain between the performance and the orchestra. The orchestra would not have visual cues from the actors and thus, needed to rely on indirect cue that is the specific dialogue to open the song.
Speaking of nonverbal communications, the actors delivered their characters in a very believable manner. Their body language and tone of voice would match up to their characters, making their characters shine on stage. For instance, one of the characters in the show is Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, a stuffy English gentlemen. The actor playing him, A. J. Magoon (pictured on the right of this picture), was using his body language such as standing up really straight, nose held high, a nasally voice, and lots of finger wiggling to portray a snobby character.
Also, the communication between the show and the audiences was very lively. Whenever the actors told a joke, they would make a silly face at the audience to cue laughter. The pause after the joke lets the audience laugh without interrupting the flow of the show. The actors did this after a song was done too. They would always finish a song in a dramatic pose, then paused on stage in that pose to cue applause from the audience before walking off the stage. Although the show wasn’t particularly interactive, the audience could feel like they were part of the show, an aspect which I enjoyed very much.
Watching Anything Goes done by Marquette Theatre is by far one of the most interesting things I’ve done so far in 2017. I encourage all of you who have a love for Broadway and also curious first timers to go check out the show before it closes on Apr 23rd! If you read this afterwards and sad that you’ve missed the show, follow Marquette Theatre’s social accounts for more upcoming productions!
*all photos belong to Marquette Theatre