A Song, A Dance, but No Show Plan?

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.—Two months into the fall semester, the Marist College Theater Program continues to have a murky future regarding their spring musical. They have changed their musical of choice twice, from West Side Story to The King and I.  The original choice for the Spring Musical 2018 slot had been Fiddler on the Roof, but had to be changed on account of losing the rights with the show currently touring.  From there the program went in the West Side Story direction, a decision that was later changed to the current show The King and I, and an update as of October 17, 2017 at 10:00 am it was announced that the musical is will not be

Director of the Theater Program, as well as Director of the Spring Musical, Matt Andrews, was available for commentary on the previous show choice for the spring, the main focus being the Golden Era musical.

“The Golden Era music, which comes from before the triple threat allows all lot of our female talent who might be strong singers to be cast in a principle role,” said Andrews.  “Because the principle roles don’t dance… We have lots of girls who are really good dancers but they haven’t got cast in Cabaret because they couldn’t sing”  Andrews added that Golden Era musicals didn’t have to require singing, dancing, and acting all at once from cast members.

Andrews also made not of  the shortage of men that has the program looking for a show that fits their casting pool. “The major 10 or 12 things that consider when picking a musical, every practical thing from budget to timeline, to skills, but it’s our casting pool,” said Andrews. “We have a real shortage of men, look at Cabaret, we had four principles and just barely cast.” Jerome Robbins, a director and choreographer for each of these shows, was one of the main influences behind Andrews’ reasoning for his play selection. Andrews mentioned that he was the conceptual learning component that would educate students.

Andrews admitted a mistake when asked about the thought behind originally choosing West Side Story as the musical for the spring. “West Side Story was just a mistake on my part because we had Fiddler chosen and then when the tour, the license got pulled it was just a rash decision,” said Andrews. “I was just overconfident because in past years we got lucky and we were able to cast the plays,but after I started doing my pre-production work on it, I realized that we don’t want to get to December and be with a play where we need 20- 25 guys and it’s not just that you need 20 guys, you need 50 guys  because then you got to find 20 that are right out of those 50.”

In the midst of choosing the musical the Marist College Club of Theater Arts Executive Board has heard and acknowledged several casting issues that have developed over the past few show choices.  Complaints that have been coming from club members since the announcements of West Side Story. In a statement on Tuesday, the theater program announced their intentions to formally drop The King and I from their spring schedule.

“We, as a board, have taken careful consideration to your concerns, and after multiple conversations have decided that we are not producing The King and I,” said MCCTA in an online statement. “MCCTA and the Theatre Program are currently researching and applying for alternative titles and are moving forward with producing a new musical”

Members of the Marist College Club of Theater Arts were available for comment after the decision was made. They cited the wishes of the theater community as a whole as the main reason they were so adamantly against this production. “We’re doing this in the best interest for our general members,” said a MCCTA spokesperson.

Anticipation and nerves stemming from the club in conjunction with the theater program should be an interesting situation worth watching. The club clearly would like for whatever production is put on to equally satisfy the performers and the directors. However, how the show is cast and produced is all in the hands of the director.  Keep an eye out for the updates as the semester goes, as auditions are anticipated to be in late November, with workshops occurring before then.

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