Over the weekend of Nov. 19, the class of 2018 Music Theatre students at Baldwin Wallace will present the premiere performance of “Xtreme Music Theatre” – a review featuring selections from popular contemporary musicals including “Edges,” “Aladdin,” and “Rent.” The review is led under the direction of music theatre program director Victoria Bussert and will feature Nancy Meyers as staff accompanist. Performances include an on-campus showing in the John Patrick Theatre on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m., and an off-campus performance at popular Cleveland Heights jazz venue Nighttown, on Monday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.
The student performers chose to incorporate more modern music theatre works into this review, which they feel has helped them connect with a wider audience, said Alec Irion, senior music theater major.
With this show, the students had the special opportunity to perform the Disney portion of the review at the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland.
“With this Xtreme Music Theatre, we’ve been able to do a little bit of outreach,” said Irion. “In the past, we’ve done edgy music theatre geared towards a sophisticated, mature audience, so it’s cool that we’ve added an element that can be shared with the community.”
The Xtreme Music Theatre review stems from the Music Theatre Workshop course that is a part of the degree program. Bussert directs the course and contributes professional knowledge and expertise; however, she insists upon the leadership and decision making comes from the students themselves. The students carry the responsibility to direct themselves, and craft the product they are interested in presenting to the campus and wider community as artists.
The students have crafted their performance to be adaptable for a variety of venues. The performance in the John Patrick Theatre will take on a more formal style and feature elaborate choreography, but the space and the audience at Nighttown require a differently tailored presentation.
Nighttown is an old club without a physical stage, so performers must work in a tightly compact space and limit the choreography. The venue also brings performers close to the audience, in a more intimate and engaging style.
“Nighttown has sort of become a precursor to [the showcase], like practice,” said showcase producer Hannah Maier.
The Nighttown performance is a great opportunity for the Music Theatre students because it simulates the experience of the music theatre showcase, an extremely important part of their degree program which takes place annually in the spring, at a similar venue in New York City called “54 below.”