“Once Upon an MTC” upholds storied traditions

With the final curtain of every show comes the genesis of another––or at least that’s how the Musical Theatre Club has come to operate. In order to assemble its wide-ranging program of club-written songs, skits and dances, the club members gather together to brainstorm and vote at the end of every semester. With that, the grand cycle begins again. Club president senior Valerie Marchesi discussed the process of developing a new show in anticipation of the opening of the club’s fall revue “Once Upon an MTC” which opens Friday Nov. 14. “We put up themes at the end of the semester [before the show],” Marchesi said. “We do it as a group. We just ask ‘Did anyone think of something?’ and we throw out ideas.”

For a club that has established such a significant presence on campus and has become known for its rigorous rehearsal hours, the process of developing the next show is relatively laidback. The club executives, however, have continued to push for a more professional show, moving away from simply stringing together songs and dances and shooting for more complete thematic consistency.

“It’s a revue, so it’s all a bunch of different numbers from a bunch of different shows,” Marchesi said. “But in recent years, we have tried to make some sort of cohesive storyline that runs throughout the show.” Still, the members are encouraged to include their crazy ideas. Marchesi noted that if it all stayed with the theme “that would be really boring.”

MTC really does encourage participation from across its membership. “It’s all club generated,” Marchesi said. “The whole club is student-run, which is what I like about it.” In a club centered on creative expression and member input, the executives try their best to remain open when it comes to developing the show. “We are definitely not totalitarian,” Marchesi added.

“Once Upon an MTC” explored fairytale-inspired numbers that recall childhood memories of “Winnie the Pooh” and other classic Disney tales. But in keeping with the club’s creative roots, the stories are not exactly as you might remember. Many of the numbers took on a tongue-in-cheek feeling, as they poked fun at classic happily-ever-afters. Tinged with some good-spirited cynicism, a few of the numbers challenged the fairytales with common college struggles like registration and academic toil.

Alongside some good-natured ribbing at the expense of the Disney classics comes a number featuring a heart-warming affirmation of the spirit of friendship. The “Winnie the Pooh”-based scene set to The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” was a definite highlight, featuring strong vocal performance in addition to captivating choreography.

In keeping with its commitment to membership input, the revue also featured a number that challenged the role of female characters in many fairytales. “I was worried about this theme, because I don’t think these fairytale stories teach good things sometimes, so we have something that addresses that,” Marchesi explained.

“Once Upon An MTC” opens Friday Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. in Wadsworth Auditorium, with a second show on Saturday Nov. 15 at 8 p.m.