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PEMCo to premiere ‘Merrily We Roll Along’

| Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Pasquerilla East Musical Company (PEMCo) will roll out its production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along” on Thursday night in Washington Hall.

Senior PEMCo producer Tommy Favorite, who plays Charlie Kringas in the show, said the production team chose this musical largely due to how relevant it is for college students.

“The story is a lot about growing up and finding out what you want to do and what’s important to you and how to compromise, change and evolve without losing yourself,” Favorite said. “Although it was a lesser-known story, it was one that we could find a lot of truth in for ourselves.”

Junior Meghan Cain, who plays Beth in the show, said she hopes students will see themselves in the characters at the end of the show, which is told in reverse-chronological order, beginning at the height of the main character’s career as a composer.

“It’s super relevant in the sense that the show ends in an apartment college students are moving into,” Cain said. “[It] ends on this hopeful note of, ‘This is what I want to do with my life, it’s my time to follow my dreams.’ I think that’s kind of where we all … right now.”

Senior PEMCo producer Amanda Bartolini said the producers and director had a large pool of talented students to choose from when casting the show.

“I think it still rings true that we have such a talented pool of singers, actors and dancers — triple threats — out there,” Bartolini said. “I think every year they just get stronger.”

The cast and production crew have to give up huge amounts of time — which Bartolini considers worthwhile.

“It’s a commitment, and it’s a sacrifice for our actors and our production team,” she said. “But it’s something that I think when you see the final product you realize … at the end of the day, what we get to put onstage makes it all worth it.”

Much of the time the cast puts in takes place outside of rehearsals, Cain said.

“In addition to your physical presence you also have to be super emotionally present,” she said. “So it’s going to rehearsals for about two hours a night … but then, in addition to running all that stuff, it’s sitting with your character, it’s doing your homework.”

This work has paid off for Cain. Favorite pointed to one of Cain’s character’s songs as his favorite moment of the show because of the raw emotion Cain expresses.

“It’s just sheer resign[ation],” she said. “I think that’s something we’ve all experienced at some point. Learning about my character and kind of the whole unwrapping of that scene has been one of the better learning experiences I’ve had as an actress and as a performer.”

In addition to the main characters, Bartolini said, the ensemble cast members are critical to the show’s story.

“I think the ensemble’s role is very important,” she said. “They’re the ones translating the story from the lead and their own lives to making it a universal theme that the audience can understand.”

Cain said the transitions the ensemble lead between scenes are crucial for the audience to pay attention to.

“I would encourage our audience to really pay attention to the transitions, really pay attention to the lines that are said and remember that it is happening in reverse,” Cain said. “And really try and put yourself in the characters’ shoes because we’re there, right now. We’re living it.”

Favorite said the story being told retrospectively makes the production worth seeing a second time to catch all of the hints dropped throughout the show.

“One of the cool things about the show is that everything in the show that is foreshadowing is also technically a callback,” Favorite said. “Frankly, I think it’s a terrific show to see twice.”

Performances will take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and tickets are on sale at the LaFortune box office.

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About Courtney Becker

Courtney is a senior from New York City majoring in film, television and theater with a minor in journalism, who recently wrapped up her year as Editor-in-Chief. She is a former resident of Pasquerilla West Hall and a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Contact Courtney