The sounds of instruments fill the Kay Theatre of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center as 12 students from the School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies sing on stage.
This is an unusual sight – most musicals have an orchestrated pit located either in front of the stage or beneath it, but the newest performance theater at The Clarice features the actors and actresses providing their own musical accompaniment.
Beginning Oct. 10, “The Me Nobody Knows” will tell the stories of 12 individuals dealing with issues such as race relations, the judicial system, family struggles and other complications through song, rhythmic stomping and spoken word poetry. The production will be presented by TDPS at The Clarice.
The story takes place in the basement of a church in New York City, unveiling the characters’ lives as each one explains their reasons for coming to the group therapy session.
“It’s really relevant to issues that a lot of our students are dealing with and our nation is dealing with,” co-director Alvin Mayes said, which is why he and co-director Scot Reese chose to bring this musical to The Clarice.
“The Me Nobody Knows” first went into Broadway in 1970. The musical is based off of the book, “The Me Nobody Knows” by Robert H. Livingston, Herb Schapiro and Stephen M. Joseph. The story and characters were created from poems written by Joseph’s students.
There will be talkbacks, where audience members can ask questions, after three performances: Oct. 14 with Reese and Mayes; Oct. 15 with Reese and the design team; and Oct. 16 with a guest panel.
Christopher Lane, senior marking and theater double major, said he didn’t view “The Me Nobody Knows “as a typical musical.
“A lot of time when we watch musicals, they’re just singing because the title says ‘musical,’ but in this show, we have a reason and a need and a desire and an impulse to sing these songs because we [as characters] can’t really express them through words,” Lane said.
Junior theater major Chloe Adler, a member of the cast, has been working on the show since the cast was chosen last April. She explained that the show has opened her eyes about race in the United States.
“I’ve learned a lot about race relations and a lot about the dangers, fears, the thoughts and feelings that people of color have,” Adler said. “These things that I was aware of but never really took the time to think about and to really feel on a compassionate level.”
Performances will last until Oct. 17. Student tickets are $10.
Victoria Tanner is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.
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