The Blackbox Auditorium was filled this past Friday afternoon as the School of the Arts presented its first Act I of the semester, a classic play with an original twist.
Junior Michael Radi transformed Tennessee William's "A Streetcar Named Desire" into a musical by incorporating his original songs into the play. The cast performed songs and acted out only specific scenes of the play, while Radi filled in the rest of the plot with commentary and occasional singing.
This approach gave the audience an overview of the play's storyline with a focus on the original musical numbers. Radi's funny and catchy songs successfully followed the action of the play and provided a fresh and lively atmosphere to this classic theatrical piece.
Radi, a theatre and English education major, wrote all of the songs himself over the past summer. Although he and his team of actors and singers managed to prepare for and put together this Act I in just one month, they had no trouble delivering a professional and enjoyable performance.
Feedback sheets were passed out to viewers before the singing began, with the intention of getting the audience members' opinions of the play. The sheets asked what the audience thought of the songs, and whether or not the play would make a good full-length musical. It also gave a detailed list of Radi's songs, so that viewers could follow along as the Act I progressed.
Radi said that his musical may be capable of being performed in its entirety, "but the purpose of this Act I was to just test the waters."
Along with maintaining the original storyline of "Streetcar," Radi's songs succeeded in heightening the emotional responses of the audience members to the different parts of the play. Funny songs like "The Letter" or "French Flirtations" provided humor, while sad numbers like "Confessions" and the "Ballad of the Boy" evoked a more somber mood.
By reworking "Streetcar" from a play to a musical, Radi added a new dimension to the popular drama.
Act I's are examples of alternative cooperative theatre. Three or four take place each semester and all are free to attend. Along with performances like Radi's, they may also consist of poetry readings, full-length play performances, or anything else related to the performing arts. Schedules for upcoming Act I's can be found at the School of the Arts Web site.