Student-run play does broadway justice

(Jody Waardenburg -- Lead Photographer)
(Jody Waardenburg — Lead Photographer)

Broadway Musical: The Broadway Musical was a ‘typical Broadway show’, and that’s exactly why it works.

The brainchild of Laurier student Ann Hascalovitz, the original musical was co-written by a team of talented young writers and musicians that included fellow Laurier students James van der Heide, David Bernacki, Kimberly Gauthier, Benjamin Miller as well as Hascalovitz herself.

Delightfully low budget, the show pays homage to the musical theatre genre, lovingly poking fun at the schmaltzy love stories and over-the-top characters that call Broadway home.

Hascalovitz, who, beyond acting as the co-creator and director, had her hand in all aspects of the production. Earlier this year she also established Not Another Joke Productions, which facilitated the logistical aspects of the show.

Her hard work came to fruition as the spot light came up on a flight attendant and sequin-clad pilot who cleverly explained the house rules.

The curtains lifted, introducing us to the jaded showgirl who acted as the musical’s narrator. Tired of being relegated to the sidelines, The Narrator, played with sass by Laurier voice student Emily Cortolezzis, invites herself into the plot and becomes an integral part of the show.

The musical follows the young and enthusiastic Marvin (Haydon Douglas) who ventures out on an Oz-inspired journey to follow the red-carpet, much like the Yellow Brick Road,  from Broadway to Hollywood, all in search of his (supposed) one true love.

Along the way they meet Wendy, a Judy Garland look-alike who sheds her innocent facade by singing about her desire for Hollywood super-stardom — and a boob job. Played by Laurier voice student Jessica van der Heide, she steals the show in Act Two with the pining, gospel-inspired ballad “I Found Love.”

Supported by a chorus of robe-clad choir singers, the song not only showcases van der Heide’s impressive vocals, but it’s also a standout piece of music that highlights the skill of the writing team.

Gary Butler, also a Laurier voice student, was hilarious as Marvin’s best friend/side-kick Abe. Channeling the likes of Samwise Gamgee, Butler played up his role with comedic ease and displayed some of the most impressive vocals of the evening.

A sort of meta-narrative, the characters were all aware that they were acting in a musical. A clever sub-plot centred around Jealous Chorus Guy (Simon Tse) — a heavy-headed back-up dancer who sought to inspire a Marxist-style uprising amongst his fellow proletariat chorus members. Played with fervent zeal, Tse gave one of the most energetic and memorable performances of the night.

Keeping the audience intrigued, the show featured songs from a variety of styles, including a raunchy burlesque piece. However, one number — a zombie vs. vampire fight scene — did not quite fit in.

While the song and dance numbers were well choreographed, I couldn’t quite understand the scene’s relevance to the show. This is just a small kink that can be easily ironed out in future productions.

Rumour has it that Hascalovitz and her team are in luck because Broadway Musical: The Broadway Musical may be re-mounted during the school year.

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