English 170: The Musical a mellifluous mockery

Geneseo English professor Tom Greenfield performed his original concert, "English 170: The Musical" last Thursday evening at the Knight Spot. Greenfield kicked off the night with a description of the required English course. After reading aloud the official bulletin description of the class, he ironically commented that he wished he had read it beforehand.

English 170: The Practice of Criticism includes the study of various genres of literature as well as an introduction to the interpretation and analysis of it. Greenfield went on to explain that the "show was disturbingly like his class."

After a short description and a few laughs from the audience, Greenfield dove straight into his first number, "The Attendance Policy Song," and made it quite clear that he was "picky about attendance in the same way that the Nazis were picky," gaining a few hearty laughs from the audience members.

"The Attendance Policy Song" was modeled after an 18th century drinking song and required audience participation with three separate verses sung simultaneously. While trying to coerce people into singing along with him, Greenfield added that in order to do well in his course it takes, "50 percent participation and 50 percent feigned appreciation of my songs."

As Greenfield progressed through the musical, he used more songs to comment on the other various aspects of an ENGL170 class, including the studies of fiction, film, drama and other genres. He also tried to enlist the audience in helping him as much as possible throughout the show, by having them stand and sing along with him.

The song "What Lysistrata Meant" was sung with the help of all the women in the audience while "Ben's Song," about the character of Ben in Arthur Miller's American drama "Death of a Salesman" (one of Greenfield's favorite plays), featured all of the men.

One of the crowd favorites featured the talents of only one audience member, senior Sarah Parker, in Greenfield's ode to his own book, "Work and the Work Ethic in American Drama from 1920-1970." The song was called "PS338.W65G71982" after the book's Milne Library call code. Parker fluttered around the room holding the book, moving it in time with Greenfield's singing to create the illusion that the book itself was speaking.

Other crowd favorites included "Have Yourself A Marxist Little Christmas," regarding the literary theory section of the course, and "Willy's Rap," another song with ties to "Death of a Salesman" that contained more audience participation alongside Greenfield's hilarious rapping.

The audience thoroughly enjoyed Greenfield's show, and would have given him an excellent SOFI review, especially after his final song, which featured the bad comments that professors had received about their classes from students on SOFI reviews over the years.

Junior Caitlin Klein said with a laugh that Greenfield's musical was "brilliant [and] masterful" and that he himself was "a musical genius."

"English 170: The Musical" was organized by the English Club and Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society. Thanks to all those who attended, the two groups raised over $100.