Old Friends: A Musical Rollercoaster of Emotions

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Ah, yes. The Cabaret blog. A place that, for the past year, has published nothing but defamation of my character. Plain and utter slander. And some great reviews of Cabaret productions, but it’s the slander that really gets me.

But now, it’s my turn to control the narrative. David Novis has spoken nothing but lies about me on this blog. That one time I put him in a trunk, it wasn’t even locked. He just never figured out how to open it. So. How was I ever perceived as a villain? In this essay, I will–

Okay, update, I’ve just received a message from my new boss, John Lerman (who I would NEVER Photoshop devil horns onto) that I can’t dedicate this entire blog post to getting revenge on David. Turns out I actually have to write about shows to keep this job.

Hm. Kind of see where David was coming from now.

 

OLD FRIENDS: A MUSICAL REVUE

I love revues. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of four back-to-school revues during my time here at Rutgers, including this one. What I love about revues is that they’re often full of familiar songs, but pulled from different places, all to create one full production. Being in a revue, I get the chance to sing songs I might never get the chance to sing otherwise. Watching a revue, audiences can experiences songs they may or may not have heard before in a different light from how they were originally performed.

“The music in this show is unique in the way that so many different styles of music are woven together to create a set of cohesive stories. Music from as early as the 1960s and as late as 2017 coexist in a way that you wouldn’t even notice a time difference.”
-Skyler Fortgang, Co-Music Director

This year’s back-to-school revue was written by the one and only Larry “Hey Larry” Fried. I asked Larry what inspired him to write this show:

“There’s an expression that says, ‘You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends.’ Well, my version of that is, ‘Friends are the family you pick.’ I think everyone has that close circle of friends, or perhaps many different circles, that help them through different ups and downs. That being said, ‘Old Friends’ was largely inspired by my experiences during high school and college regarding the varying levels of friendship I was experiencing with different people.”

He goes on to say:

“I was fascinated with the notion that certain bonds between people will always find a way to survive despite what may be thrown at them. And then, before I knew it, I had already begun writing a story about just that, the ways in which friendships change and evolve over time.”

Since I’ve been told that I can’t make the rest of this post just quotes from Larry, let’s move on.

 I can neither confirm nor deny that Randy will be giving out free hugs during the show

I can neither confirm nor deny that Randy will be giving out free hugs during the show

Like Larry said, this show is relatable to him because of the friendships he’s had. But is this show relatable to anyone else? Cast members Sabrina Dunn and Liam McGeary believe it is.

“I relate to this show because when I graduated high school I had many expectations, and things didn’t go as planned,” Sabrina says. “Like many, my character experiences insecurities, and is hopeful to move forward despite those feelings.”

“I relate to the show because, like many, I have lost and gained many friends while becoming an adult,” Liam says, “and I think my character also really struggles in balancing relationships, friendships, and personal and professional goals.”

“There is something for everyone in this show, it is a very human story.” -Liam McGeary, Cast

Honestly, this show is very relatable, and makes me feel a lot of feelings just by being in it. I got very emotional one night after rehearsal, thinking about my own Old Friends from high school, and decided to reach out to them, just to let them know I was thinking about them.

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[sniffs the air] Smells like friendship.

“John, John!” I yell, chasing down our director, John Hennessey, as he travels around Cabaret Theatre in a whirlwind of productivity. I shove my microphone (read: empty fist) into his face. “Any comment on Old Friends: A Musical Revue?”

Not taking his eyes off the lighting board that he is now rapidly inputting cues into, he says, “I'm most excited for the audience to experience the immense and varied musical talent of this cast and pit.”

He then asks for my press pass, a request to which I respond by running away as fast as my little feet can carry me.

 I am Paul, and Randy and Liam are all my friends I keep   telling to come to  Old Friends  even though they've already bought their tickets

I am Paul, and Randy and Liam are all my friends I keep telling to come to Old Friends even though they've already bought their tickets

As I said before, I am fortunate enough to be in the cast of this revue, and some of my favorite moments recently have been watching people see this show for the first time. Being in a show, you can get accustomed to certain jokes or emotional moments, and it’s easy to become numb as it becomes routine. Watching people double over in laughter, or visibly reacting to a solid belt, or wiping a tear away while they watch this show reminds me of how impactful theatre can be, this show in particular, and makes me all the more excited for even more people to experience it.

I asked assistant director Mohsin Sharif how he feels the show has evolved from how he originally imagined it’d be:

Old Friends is much like any show in that you can never even fathom what the final production will look like just from reading the song list,” he says. “When I first read through the lyrics, I was so excited by the beautiful and intelligent story that emerged. When I saw who would be on the rest of the production staff, I knew it would be something special. But when we had our cast – a group of pure individuals who are so talented, bright, and lovely – I knew this show would evolve far beyond anything we could have imagined.”

“If you are a human, you will see yourself in many of the characters throughout this show and relate HARD. If you are a robot, you’ll probably still like it.”
-Mohsin Sharif, Assistant Director

 I don't have a creative comment for this but just know Sabrina's voice is a beautiful as she is

I don't have a creative comment for this but just know Sabrina's voice is a beautiful as she is

I did my first back-to-school revue as an incoming freshman, and it was both terrifying and wonderful. I hit up our cast’s resident freshman, Paige Jarusiewicz (who is a real life Old Friend of mine, North Brunswick Township Rec Basketball represent), to see how doing this show has been for her as an incoming freshman. (I doubt she was as scared as I was as a freshman, because Paige is Cool and Collected and I am A Gigantic Wimp).

I know it’s probably a bad idea to use this long a quote, especially in my first ever blog post, but it’s all so nice and made me tear up in a Panera Bread that there’s no way I can cut it down. Please read what Paige has to say, especially if you’re a freshman interested in getting involved with student theatre at Rutgers, and allow her words to motivate you to come support her and everyone else who is a part of Old Friends:

“As an incoming freshman, I was admittedly a little apprehensive to get involved so soon. I had only learned about the show the day before auditions, and I had just graduated high school the previous week, so it seemed early and overwhelming to start a college club already. In hindsight, I couldn’t be happier that I put myself out there right from the jump. In the past two months I’ve met the most talented, kind, and welcoming people I could’ve ever imagined. If any other incoming freshmen are interested in student theatre at Rutgers, they’re in luck because there are so many opportunities to get their foot in the door no matter what aspect of theatre they’re interested in. If the only idea stopping you from auditioning/applying is that you’re ‘too intimidated’ or ‘too young’ or ‘they won’t accept me because I’m a freshman and don’t know anybody’, you’ll be ecstatic to discover that none of those are the case. The thing I hear the most often from my upperclassmen friends is, ‘Man, I wish I’d joined sooner.’ You have nothing to lose by putting yourself out there, but everything to gain.”

Old Friends: A Musical Revue runs September 7th at 8pm, September 8th at 8pm, and September 9th at 7pm, at Cabaret Theatre.

Tickets are on sale now: https://sabo.tix.com/Schedule.aspx?OrgNum=4785

Visit our Facebook event for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/326882421391608/

Photography by Steph Bradli