On October 6th, I attended a concert at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts that many of my friends performed in entitled "Nathan and Julie Gunn and Friends: A Night of Broadway." Before going, I thought it would be just like any other concert that I've been to. I was very, very wrong.
Going to this concert brought me so much immense joy and gratitude to be in the music program at the University of Illinois. These past few weeks have been very difficult between rehearsals, classes and voice lessons. This concert was a reminder that this is where I need to be, as hard as it is, but I know now how much stronger I will become at the end of this semester. The concert was formatted in a way that took the audience through different time periods of the Broadway musical history. First up were three songs from the musical "Street Scene." The biggest highlight of the set was a duet sang by Logan Piker and Elliot Emadian. Both of them brought a ton of spunk and energy to the stage!
For me, theatre has always been about expressing myself in a way that I can't do in everyday life. Living in an imaginary world where I can do anything and take big risks is important for me to explore my identity and my abilities as an actor and human.
Currently, I am in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" at the Colwell Playhouse at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The entire musical is a huge comedy about a Roman slave named Pseudolus who is on a journey to free himself. The plot is intertwined with many characters including a pimp named Marcus Lycus who owns 5 courtesans: Vibrata, Gymnasia, Panacea, Tintinabula, and Geminae. I play a Protean, which in short is one of the ensemble characters. However, I am in almost every scene in some way, shape, or form. My point in saying this is that in the whole show, I am able to take risks and explore comedy in a way that I've never done before. I'm so grateful to be working with the theatre faculty and with such talented peers!
One of my favorite moments of working on this show was having meaningful talks with the rest of the cast about doing this show in the year 2018. There were many things about the show that we needed to understand in order for us to portray them clearly, like objectives. Comedy is something that has to be intentional, and it's really hard to do well. The whole directing team made it so clear that the cast was just as much a part of the process of creating the show as they were. It's hard as an actor when you feel like you don't have a say in the show you're a part of, and it feels like you're just being told what to do. Having that collaboration, communication, and honesty, particularly with a cast,, is something I learned is very important.
In conclusion, the theatre program here at the University of Illinois is so inclusive and open-minded, doing shows that are normally not done on a regular basis. This program has opened up opportunities for me to learn things that I'm going to need when I graduate but I never thought I would learn before I came here. I have also learned that doing performances isn't just about performing in front of an audience, but in retrospect, you apply things you've learned in classes (which you might not otherwise think are relevant to your major) in the rehearsal process.