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PEMCo breaks boundaries

| Sunday, April 6, 2014

pemco_breaks_boundaries_WEBMaria Massa
“Breaking Boundaries” was the theme for this year’s PEMCo Revue. According to the director Anthony Murphy, the goal was to use songs from musicals that tested restrictions in their original contexts and then stretch them even further in this performance.

The program started with the entire group performing “Masquerade” from “Phantom of the Opera.” While the acoustics in the LaFortune Ballroom occasionally made it hard to hear the singers over the band in the group performances, the dancing kept the audience engaged through the entire performance.

In a literal expression of the theme of the night, the two vocal performers (Katie Mullins and Emily Nash) literally broke through a line of their fellow thespians to begin their performance of “Freedom” from “The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown.”

Theatrical transitions like this were common in the beginning and the end of the performance. During the middle, the transitions were less smooth, though this did not detract too much from the performance as a whole.

One of the most interesting transitions was the way the group chose to end the 10-minute intermission. Emily Nash took her seat for the next song (“Screw Loose” from “Cry Baby”) and instead of announcing the end of intermission, she cleared her throat until she had the attention of the audience. This fits in perfectly with the character singing the song, who croons about having a “screw loose” inside her head. Nash’s facial expressions during this performance were some of the best of the night.

While acoustics seemed to be a problem within the group performances, the solo performers did not seem to have the same issues. As a whole, the singing seemed much stronger when fewer performers were on the stage.

One of the most notable boundaries that PEMCo pushed in its performances of these songs was in the performance of “On My Own” from “Les Miserables.” Performed by Samuel Evola, the song pushed the expectations of who should be performing this song. Traditionally performed by a female playing Eponine, a male vocalist performing this song definitely cast a different light on the emotional ballad. PEMCo also played with traditionally gendered performances in the song “A Miracle Would Happen” from “The Last Five Years,” where Sam Schubert took on the traditionally male role of Jamie.

Perhaps the most engaging group performance of the night was “Let the Sunshine In” from “Hair” which featured vocalists Quint Mediate and Maggie Moran. The performance ended with the entire cast dancing through the aisles of the audience, which was a fun interlude between many of the slower songs.

The seniors in the group performed “When I Grow Up” from “Matilda the Musical.” The song featured some of the strongest vocalists in the Revue and was definitely among the highlights of the second half of the show.

The end of the PEMCo Revue featured a reprise of “Let the Sunshine In,” after the entire cast performed their final song. As with all the group performances, the choreography of “Like Breathing” from “Edges” was compelling. The final song featured multiple soloists from among the group and watching each of them step forward as they sang their lines was a powerful finale to the theme of the night.

Each of the performances lent something unique to theme of “Breaking Boundaries.” As a whole, the performance definitely questioned expectations in an entertaining and engaging way.

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About Caelin Miltko

I am a senior English and Irish language major, with a minor in Journalism. I spent the last year abroad in Dublin, Ireland and am currently a Walsh RA living in Pangborn.

Contact Caelin