Ben Summers Culture Critic
The Company’s cabaret Around the World in 20 Songs opens Friday, April 26 at 8 p.m. and will have performances on Saturday, April 27 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 28 at 2 p.m. Additionally, there will be a dress rehearsal on April 25 at 9 p.m. that students may attend if they cannot make it to the other showings. The term “cabaret,” for those who aren’t well-versed in French, is roughly translated as “a theater nerd’s iPod on shuffle.” It is a stage show that smashes together songs from many different musicals into one all-singing, all-dancing spectacle that is usually tied together by a theme or a plot whose main goal is to make a transition from Les Miserables to The Lion King less of an emotional and stylistic whiplash. It is a musical smorgasbord, taking the prime cuts from one musical or another, and serving it up in a new style. Around the World in 20 Songs will, as promised, take the audience on a 20-song trip around the world. The audience will be teleported from America to Uganda to France and beyond as the cast performs songs representative of each locale. The audience will be guided by MCs that introduce the songs and provide a brief background of how the song represents the location to which the Company has whisked the audience away. Tom Cocchi, the director of the show, explained, “This year, the Company is returning to a more traditional idea of cabaret instead of forming a plot to string the songs together, in order to break the forth wall and give the show a more conversational feel.” Even though cabarets strongly appeal to those who know that the Tony Awards are not given out by Kellogg’s, Cocchi does not want to dissuade novices to the theater who cannot tell the difference between Our Town and UrineTown from coming to the show. He mentioned that the Company is performing in partnership with the Visionaries of H.O.P.E. as they celebrate multiculturalism throughout the campus. Cocchi also said that the show will incorporate songs that express “historical, traditional, and multicultural elements” that put an emphasis on the unique characteristics of the birthplace of each song. Cocchi added that the MCs of the show, Kelsey Harris and Dean Graner, will use humor and poignant comments to make the show more than just a geographically-themed history of musicals. Cocchi stressed that it is “going to be a fun show,” as if the sight of the players whirling around and belting out their favorite songs was going to be a dull affair. The cabaret will like watching all the cast collectively dancing around their rooms and singing into hairbrushes, except in public; they absolutely love what they’re doing, which makes it impossible not to get swept up in their crazy, bewildering explosion of sound and movement. This season is also a milestone for the Company as many of the group’s mainstays will be performing their last show during the cabaret. Longtime Company members Tom Cocchi, Trish Allan, Rory Mitrik, Averie Shaughnessy and others will be passing the torch to younger members. This show has convinced Cocchi that the Company will be in good hands. He said, “The underclassman have stepped up during production,” noting the excellent work by musical director Josh Gongaware and choreographer Brandon Snyder, whom he feels are some of the most promising underclassmen members of the Company.