Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Extra! Students’ season/campus farewell song a grabber

Critic At Large

St. Norbert College Knights on Broadway

Screenshot of St. Norbert College Knights on Broadway 2020.

DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – Marvin Hamlisch is on the line. It’s 1994.

“Certain things in your life you should do just because the experience has been offered to you, and you choose between what this experience is going to mean to you as compared to others,” says the Oscar, Grammy, Tony and Emmy Award-winning composer.

Marvin Hamlisch is telling me about what he is doing for love – setting all aside right after a solo gig in Green Bay to team with Barbra Streisand for a sold-out tour.

He talks about “two people who really love music getting together.”

Flashing forward to 2020, the music he composed for a hit song is getting new life. Singing the song from the musical “A Chorus Line” are singers who chose one singular experience.

The song starts…
Kiss today goodbye
The sweetness and the sorrow
Wish me luck, the same to you
But I can’t regret
What I did for love, what I did for love

A link to the song is embedded in a message to followers of the St. Norbert College Knights on Broadway show troupe.

In an email, Kent Paulsen writes about life changing on a dime in March, when the grip of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

Kent Paulsen of the faculty has led the show troupe for 13 years.

Screenshot of Kent Paulsen.

“We were getting ready and very excited to perform on campus in May with a great new show for all of you, when everything shut down,” he writes. “Because of COVID-19, none of those performances happened.  We sent our seniors away without a farewell performance, and we missed sharing our joy of performing with you. Like so much of life this year, we couldn’t gather the way we used to. We missed it so much, and we know you missed the live performances, too.

“The work the students did last spring was just so outstanding, I wanted to figure out a way to share some of it with you – even if just a song or two. So, each student recorded themselves alone at home in August and September on their phones and i-Pads, and, with the video editing magic of my assistant Josh Fields, a virtual performance was created. As you can imagine, each student recording without hearing each other was quite the task, but we know how worth it this was – to have something to remember, to reflect, and to share with you.

“For your enjoyment, please enjoy a Knights on Broadway 2020 virtual performance.”

The song, “What I Did for Love,” ripples with meaning.

It is slow, embracing, warm.

Four of the singers have kissed today goodbye – graduated from St. Norbert.

They graduated among sweetness (accomplishment) and sorrow (so many broken moments caused by the pandemic).

Friends they made in the group wish them luck, knowing so much of what they did together was out of a kind of love.

Hearing waves of applause is rewarding and exciting, too.

The song on the recording is a bit of a feat. Initially, as Kent Paulsen plays piano on a separate screen, individual voices are heard. Eventually, all will join on one screen – 12 people who really love music getting together.

Singing are Maverick Berner, John Dicks (graduate), Garrett Fritz, Sarah Gregory, Marki Hietpas, Alyssa Higley (graduate), Briah Larson, Trent Larson, Andrew Lococo (graduate), Nick Surprise (graduate), Emily Tomcek and Annie Yamamoto.

“What I Did for Love” is a thief. It steals your heart.

In the context of the video, sentiment is profound. It is wonderfully sad, sadly wonderful and the wonderfully wonderful that heartfelt feelings bring.

Back to Kent Paulsen in the email: “We will be sharing another virtual performance from last year’s group with you in a few weeks.”

As for Christmas 2020, “With students returning to campus, we have been working hard to prepare a great Christmas program for you. But with no live audiences permitted on campus, we are going to try something new. We will perform on campus for an empty room, and you can watch at home via livestream! We will just pretend we hear you clapping after every song, and we won’t even notice if you’re not dressed up, if you sing along and out of key, or even if you talk during the songs! Snacking is encouraged in your home theater! We will send out more information on how to purchase these livestream events through our box office.”

Back to the song, which includes this verse:

Love is never gone
As we travel on
Love’s what we’ll remember

RIP, Marvin Hamlisch, June 2, 1944-Aug. 6, 2012

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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