By Mallory Sherwood, Managing Editor
Thursday was a night of love, food, music and dancing as 10 theatre majors began the year’s first production with “A Grand Night for Singing,” a dinner theatre celebrating the emotions of love in relationships.
The fall dinner theatre, directed and choreographed by Dawne Swearingen, associate professor of theatre, is a Rogers and Hammerstein production with 30 classic shows represented through song. Swearingen said the cast will perform popular songs familiar to the audience from plays such as Oklahoma!, The King & I, Pipe Dream, The Sound of Music and Carousel.
The show was first produced in 1994 in New York and is not a typical performance, Swearingen said.
“Those who come will get to enjoy a cabaret evening with the cast standing next to the piano singing familiar songs,” Swearingen said. “There is not a lot of costume and stage work that had to be done.”
She said she chose five men and five women, twice as many as normally performs the play because she wanted to give the students more learning opportunities.
Swearingen, a 1995 graduate of the Theatre Department, arrived in July to begin directing the production as a guest director and ended up landing a position in the Theatre Department. She taught for a short time at Baylor University and ��then moved to New York City, where she worked as a professional actress and director.
“I have always wanted to teach theater and now was the right time for me,” Swearingen said. “I had been talking to Adam Hester about some day returning to teach here, and God just opened the doors for me.”
Lara Seibert, senior theatre major from Grapevine, said this production is special to her in many ways. Besides performing with her best friends on stage, who are also seniors, Seibert said she also gets to work with Swearingen for the first time.
“It is neat for all of the seniors to get to work with Dawne for the first time,” Seibert said. “It is like the new and the old are working together.”
One challenge the cast and new director had to overcome was learning the music and choreography to 30 different songs in four weeks, Swearingen said.
“These students are extremely talented, their voices are glorious, and they learned the music quickly,” Swearingen said.
Even though this will be Seibert’s ninth production in her four years here, this is the first time she has a done a musical review with no dialogue, she said.
“This is just about song and dance, and I am so excited,” Seibert said. “I’ve never just sang song after song without any dialogue, so this is a new experience for me.”
She said that the music was like the cliché, and “all about love,” with songs reflecting the different stages of love from new couples, to marriage, to a parent’s love for a child — something everyone can relate to. Seibert said she encouraged students to come because it is a night of easy listening.
“It is a night of classic love songs, and it is so simple,” Seibert said. “You don’t have to think about anything, you just come and listen and relax. It’ll be an enjoyable evening.”
The show takes place during the next three weekends. Other performance times are Aug. 26 & 27, Sept. 2 & 3 and Sept. 9 & 10. The dinner begins at 6:45 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27 for dinner and the show and $15 for only the show, and they can be purchased at the box office at Ext. 2787.