Last Friday night the Palace Theater was packed with students eager to see the third ever production of Broad Street Behind the Beat, the only vocal jazz show on campus.
The show was produced and directed by seniors Hannah Goldstein and Anne Achenbaum and junior Hannah DeGarmo. Goldstein, one of the founding members, was interested in the production due to her experience in Cabaret.
“I really enjoyed getting to work with the music and perform with my friends, but I felt like I didn’t fully fit into the genre. I wanted to be a part of a project that was centered around jazz music, and that encouraged the
performers to take a bit of ownership of their numbers,” Goldstein said.
From there Goldstein started working with Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (CLSI) and recruited Achenbaum, her roomate at the time, to help. The two directed their first show together in the spring of 2014. Goldstein and Achenbaum have worked hard to produce a great performance. The show is cast in the fall semester and songs are selected and assigned based on the voices available after the audition process. Intensive practice begins three weeks before the spring semester show. For performers, that means about four hours of rehearsal per week and for the directors that can mean upwards of 18 hours of rehearsal per week.
“It was definitely a challenge, but it was worth the time in the end. The students who participated are some of the most talented people I know and are some of my best friends here,” performer and sophomore Ben Phelps said of the experience.
The hard work paid off. The directors anticipated an audience of about 85 and 155 seats were filled. That number does not include the attendees standing in the back and flanking the stairs.
The show was a mixture of soloist, duet and group performances with a series of styles, both contemporary and classic. Audience members enjoyed renditions of the popular Sara Bareilles song, “Uncharted” performed by sophomore Julia Feikens, junior Casey Lange and sophomore Sophie Louallier and Michael Bublé’s “Home” performed by first-year Drew O’Hara. These were in addition to oldies like “Fly Me to the Moon” performed by first-year Estéban Dardani, sophomore Mike Vassolas and junior Jordan Wright.
“I like the song selection. There was some classic jazz, like Emily Palermo’s performance of ‘If You Can’t Swing It,’ with some scatting as well as a mix of other genres,” junior Maddie Cuddy said.
One audience member was particularly taken by O’Hara’s rendition of “Home.”
“Drew took control of the audience, his voice was just insane,” sophomore Jacob Greiff said.
The band of jazz musicians that accompanied the singers was equally as impressive.
“The house band was great and the saxophone was a nice feature with some great solos. It was impressive that the piano player learned so many songs for the night and in so many different styles,” Cuddy said.
The production was crafted in a way that made it accessible to all music lovers.
“People often see jazz as this impenetrable, high brow genre,” Goldstein said. “We’re here to expose the audience members and performers alike to a kind of music that is surprisingly familiar and accessible.”
They were able to do just that as it seemed everyone left the Palace Theater in awe of the students’ abilities.
“It’s my hope that Broad Street Behind the Beat will continue to possess this spirit long after its original founders have graduated. And, if the execution of our last performance was any indication, it will,” Goldstein said.