My love affair with theatre began in 2012 when a friend of mine begged me to do the ensemble of Grease (School Version) with her. Of course I was much too shy back then to ever be seen on the stage. So I applied to be tech crew, backstage crew to be exact. That way I had minimal responsibility and no chance of being seen by an audience of any kind. I was appointed the position of stage manager (which in middle school is like a participation award but I’m still proud of it) and my friend who auditioned for ensemble didn’t get cast. C’est la vie. This ragtag production of Grease rehearsed for AGES (I’m talking August to March) and it was STILL terrible. I mean truly terrible, there was not a shred of talent or effort in that entire production. Every song was off key and the paraphrased lines were different every night. I don’t know what it was about that one production of Grease. Perhaps it was the comradery or the fact that we all put in our own unique efforts to create that shit show, but I fell head over heels in love with the theatre.
From the time that I fully immersed myself into Grease (School Version) until I graduated high school, I did 23 shows. If my calculations are correct (which usually they’re not, I’m a theatre major), that’s a lot of shows. My resume ranges from Shakespeare to musical theatre to a children’s show called “Cutie Pie Bear and Luke Lion’s Friendship Adventure.” I don’t like talking about that last one. If there was a chance to be involved in the theatre in high school, I was there faster than you could say “call time.” I hung lights, swept floors, constructed steel decks, made coffee runs, etc. all for my sheer love of theatre.
So what’s the point? What does all this hard work and theatre gushing have to do with four PASJ kids sitting in a Cowell classroom at midnight just shooting the shit?
I’m glad you asked. Our podcast is many things. Hectic? Maybe. Long? I’ll give it that. Unnecessary? Perhaps. But just having the opportunity to put four young artists of different focuses together in an uninhibited space and share our love of our art was something I never knew I needed. But now I have an hour (give or take) of solid ideas and feelings being shared that I can listen to and learn from.
The four of us touched on topics ranging from the stigma around commercial theatre to the potential for a PASJ musical and many more. What I gathered from this very long, very hit and miss conversation was that this freshman class is dripping with potential. We’re all driven, involved, and opinionated and we barely just got here. We strong but mighty few have the potential to change this program for the better and actually make it to senior year without dropping the major or transferring.
All four of us seemed to have a mission within the PASJ department. From the time we settled into our majors to the day we graduate, we want to accomplish something large scale. Here is where I mount my soap box: I want PASJ to produce a main stage, big budget musical. When you have a Performing Arts department with concentrations in Music, Theatre, and Dance as opposed to three separate departments, then why would you not put on a show that could unite them. Every semester there is a PASJ main stage show for music AND theatre AND dance but never all three. There is an endless supply of musicals that tackle social justice issues AND utilize all three of PASJ’s concentrations. In the Heights by Lin Manuel Miranda tells of immigrant struggles in America while also celebrating Latin American culture. Ragtime by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty is a musical based on a novel by the same name that tells the story of class and racial struggles in turn of the century New York. Parade by Jason Robert Brown is based on the real story of Leo Frank and how he was framed for the murder of 13 year old Mary Phagan.
I could go on and on and on about the opportunities for PASJ musicals but instead I will actually give my reasoning other than “But why not???????”
You can only put on so many social events to unite the concentrations but in reality the best way to fully unite a department is for faculty and students alike to work together to create a piece of art.
For fear of repetition, I will let our podcast do most of the talking. Without further ado, PASJ Podcast: Episode 1.