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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘Only for Now’ keeps performance pulse going at UW-Green Bay

Critic At Large

Show poster.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The revue “Only for Now: A Musical Revue” goes about business in new ways for University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Theatre and Dance – like so many things for so many people in the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

The original creation is continuing online to Dec. 15.

Some snapshots:

+ The 19 student performers introduce themselves – name, major, hometown and school, plus a tidbit about what makes them tick in performing.

+ The 12 songs in the show are mostly solos with piano accompaniment.

+ The selection is from Broadway shows.

+ The songs are of a person at an important moment – like now.

+ Lyrics and music give the performer the opportunity to create a character – build a soul.

+ Touches of costuming are part of the enacted singing.

+ Performances were recorded in the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts’ Fort Howard Hall, the acoustics of which allow singers’ voices to flex freely.

+ The finale, a trio, works around the revue’s title, with lyrics being lush with meaning, heavily edited here: “Nothing lasts… Life goes on… Full of surprises… You’ll be faced with problems of all shapes and sizes… You’re going to have to make a few compromises… Only for now.”

Finale scene. (UW-Green Bay photo)

A drawback is technical capability. What is seen on screen are images and movement akin to impressionistic paintings that are animated. That’s a euphemistic way of saying the university has been caught off guard. It is trying to do the best it can with what it’s got with the technology that works… but is not the best.

On the other hand, there are pluses. Editing allows some interesting touches. One song includes a singer and two dancers on separate screens. The opener is a weaving of three singers – solos, duets, a trio. “In My Dreams” finds the singer singing and then, through editing, separately dancing as if in a dream.

And the show is personable. Viewers get to see performers do their thing in a different format. Much relies on their core drive because they perform with no audience and no reaction, in a bare-black background in a song with minimal context. The character they create with singing-acting is the context. In many cases, the viewer gets to see a character take shape in a kind of one-on-one situation.

Needy as the production is, it has the feel of a memory in the making and of consciously being something temporary.

Setup for the opener. (UW-Green Bay photo)

***

Creative: Director – Laura Riddle; musical director – Courtney Sherman; choreographer – Denise Carlson-Gardner; pianist – Emily Sculliuffo; costume and make-up design – Kaoime E. Malloy; dramaturgy – Thomas Campbell; technical director and video editor – Dinesh Yadav; assistant technical director and recording technician – David Cook; sound and recording technician – Kellie DeJardin; stage manager – McKenzie Thompson; assistant director – Charrey Honkanen; technical support – Brock Neverman

***

Program

+ “At the Ballet” from “A Chorus Line” – Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban

   Isabelle Austgen

   Aisa Rogers

   Olivia Smith

+ “Sing” from “A Chorus Line” – Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban

   Mason Amidon

   Annie Skorupa

+ “If I Were a Bell” from “Guys and Dolls” – Frank Loesser

   Kara Anderson

+ “Good Morning Baltimore” from “Hairspray” – Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman

   Rhean Krueger

   Autumn Rettke

   Liesi Sigourney

+ “I Know Things Now” from “Into the Woods” – Stephen Sondheim

   Ally Stokes

+ “Everlasting” from “Tuck Everlasting” – Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen

   Aubrey Stein

+ “Never Ever Getting Rid of Me” from “Waitress” – Sara Bareilles

   Connor Anderson

+ “See I’m Smiling” from “The Last Five Years” – Jason Robert Brown

   Audrey Soberg

+ “In My Dreams” from “Anastasia” – Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens

   Hayley Eastman

+ “On My Own” from “Les Miserables” – Alain Boubil and Claude-Michel Schönberg

   Jasmine Christyne

+ “Little Miss Perfect” from “Tapes: A Song Cycle” – Joriah Kwamé

   Grace Kolb

+ “For Now” from “Avenue Q” – Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx

   Alyssa Hannam

   Faith Klick

   Cory J. O’Donnell

Running time: 49 minutes

Access through Dec. 15: Via weidnercenter.com

Online program: https://bit.ly/387jlIT

***

Some composer connections:

Marvin Hamlisch performed a solo gig in 1994 in Cofrin Family Hall prior to heading out on an extensive tour with his soul mate, Barbra Streisand.

Claude-Michel Schönberg was well aware of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts from being interviewed (by me in international telephone calls) in association with runs at the center of “Les Miserables” and “Miss Saigon.”

Jason Robert Brown conducted in the pit of Cofrin Family Hall during the tour of “Parade” (of which he was the composer and lyricist) and may well have been working on “The Last Five Years” at the time.

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