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Pemco’s “Beyond the Curtain”

Tae Andrews | Thursday, April 19, 2007

You can hear them before you see them. The sound of piano keys clinking out show tunes mixes with the hubbub of excited cast chit-chat and the melodies of performers warming up their vocal chords, rising to a loud, pleasant din that fills the LaFortune Ballroom.

It’s a Monday night rehearsal for “Beyond the Curtain,” the sixth annual Musical Revue from the Pasquerilla East Musical Company, and with just three days before opening night, directors Brad Lancy and Wendy Pepper have their hands full.

After a quick round of warm-up chords (led by the seemingly tireless Nicholas Shaneyfelt, the show’s musical director and the man behind the piano), Pepper announces it’s time to get this show on the road. “All right,” she shouts, “let’s go, and we’re going to try to run this rehearsal as if it were an actual show.”

While she watches the rehearsal, her fellow director Lancy has time for a few questions. So why the title, “Beyond the Curtain?”

“The inspiration for the show comes from a song in the musical “Chorus Line” called ‘What I Did For Love,'” Lancy said. “The title felt very appropriate because through all of the experiences the people in the show have had with theater, we’ve all come to realize that we all do what we do for the love of theater.

“The show’s themes are all about people’s experiences with musical theater at ND and how those experiences helped make them into the people they are today.”

The show is structured around different categories and is interspersed with quotes from the actual cast members talking about how theater has impacted their lives beyond the stage.

Featuring over 25 acts from more than 20 different musicals, “Beyond the Curtain” features nearly 40 young ladies and gentlemen drawn from all over campus, mostly undergraduate students, but with a few graduate school Double Domers thrown into the mix as well. That’s a whole lot of talent packed into one room, even one with ceilings as vaulted as the LaFortune Ballroom. And these are just the cream of the crop.

Auditions for “Beyond the Curtain” were held the week before spring break over a two-night span. More than 100 acts auditioned before the final number was whittled down to less than half the original count.

With a surplus of talented thespians here at Notre Dame, the show’s title, “Beyond the Curtain,” puts the spotlight on people who are sometimes overlooked.

“One of the reasons we chose to do this show is that with so many talented people here at Notre Dame, not everyone gets a chance to be featured onstage,” Lancy said. “This way, you can really feature people who might otherwise go unnoticed.”

Pepper agreed. “The reason we came up with the idea for the show’s structure,” she said, “is to highlight the talents of people who might be less visible and find out why they do theater in the first place.”

Not to mention that “Beyond the Curtain” is also just plain fun. As cast member Erin O’Shea put it, “It’s cool because you come in knowing a group of familiar faces, and then you find out it’s a good way to build a community of friends. It’s always entertaining and the best part is not doing homework and watching the other acts. I always bring a book to rehearsal and never read it.”

The opening number from the show is “One Night Only,” a song from the musical “Dreamgirls.” Fortunately for undergraduates here at Notre Dame, we have three nights to take in the voices and acting on display in “Beyond the Curtain.”