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Now Playing: Songs from the 2009 Broadway Season

Analise Lipari | Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tonight, Fortnight productions, an event series sponsored by the Student Activities Office, returns with its latest production,”Now Playing: Songs from the 2009 Broadway Season.” The performance, a revue featuring well-known songs from contemporary Broadway shows, is free for students.

Kyle Chamberlain, a student at the Notre Dame Law School and graduate of the University, is one of the people behind Fortnight Productions, an initiative of Student Activities that first came into being last year. According to Chamberlain, the project began as an effort to reach out to students whose academic or personal schedules kept them from getting involved with other, larger productions on campus.

“When I was an undergrad,” Chamberlain told Scene in a recent interview, “I never did any theater work, which was a big departure from high school, where I performed all year round. I was too busy to commit back then.”

Chamberlain said that the philosophy of Fortnight Productions is threefold: One, that their shows are always performed on weekends, so students can easily attend; two, that the performances are always free for students; and three, that the entire production schedule will take no more than two weeks.

This approach then allows students who have an interested in theater but aren’t necessarily free to join larger campus groups, such as the Pasquerilla East Musical Company (PEMCO) or the Farley Hall Players, to participate in similar activities.

The short time span of each production also encourages students who haven’t worked in musical theater before to try their hand at theatrical performance. The students involved in Fortnight Productions, Chamberlain noted, range from the very experienced to those who’ve never set foot on a stage before.”We have some people whose first time on stage is now,” he said. “We draw from a lot of different groups.”

Chamberlain first came up with the idea of Fortnight Productions while working for Student Activities last year. “I tried to think of what I would enjoy as an undergrad. The mantra behind Fortnight is that it’s an opportunity for talented performers who are involved in other things – those whose schedules keep them too busy – have a chance to act.”

This year, the event series moves to Washington Hall – their previous production, a similar musical revue, was held in the LaFortune Ballroom.

Chamberlain promised that the revue’s selections are both varied and fun, drawing from a wide range of Broadway shows that students should recognize.

“The current revue has songs from shows that are playing or have played on Broadway sometime this year. That includes some newer stuff, like ‘Hairspray,’ ‘Wicked,’ ‘Jersey Boys,’ the big blockbusters, and also older things, including revivals of ‘South Pacific’ and ‘Guys and Dolls.'”

The revue format, Chamberlain noted, is well-suited to the range of talent and strengths of the students involved in the show.

“The good part about the revue format is that you can pick numbers that are well suited to the talent you have,” he said. “If you have people that work well with a certain genre, you can find something that showcases their abilities. That’s a big advantage.”

Highlights of the show will include selections from “Wicked,” “Jersey Boys” and the recent stage adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.”

“I think people will really like the four guys who do some of the Jersey Boys numbers,” Chamberlain said, “looking back on the Four Seasons. Some of the big ensemble numbers we’re doing will also be highlights, including numbers from ‘Spamalot,’ and a performance of ‘Under the Sea,’ complete with a steel drum band.”

Ultimately, Chamberlain said he hoped to draw a wide variety of students to the revue for a fun night of musical theater.

“This show has a little bit of something for everybody,” he said. “Musical theater fans will love it, but people who aren’t normally interested in that art will also find something entertaining. It’s a short time commitment, and it’s free. You don’t have anything to lose.”

“Now Playing” begins tonight at 9:00 p.m. in Washington Hall, and is free to students with a Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s or Holy Cross ID.