It’s no “Mamma Mia” or “Phantom of the Opera,” but the student-directed musical “Edges,” premiering on March 13th, is sure to rise up to the same expectations.
After the success of the musical last winter, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” the Robinson Players asked sophomore Colby Harrison to direct this year’s production.
“I fell in love with it the moment I listened to the music,” said Harrison. “I knew I couldn’t do this alone, so I wanted a partner-in-crime and I went to Katie Van Patten. She agreed and we decided to go in this together as a team.”
What makes this production so unique is the idea that there is no specific plot to follow; it’s technically a song cycle. While the songs don’t directly relate to one another through narrative, the show is still comprised of musical numbers that tell a story. “Edges” attempts to break down the walls between the self and society, as it is these walls that prevent us from expressing our true personalities and embracing the world around us. The show reveals the barriers that we think protect us but ultimately shut us out of the space around us.
Accordingly, the music and general theme of the show revolve around questions about one’s personal being and identification, such as, “who am I and who do I want to become? Am I good enough? Why can’t I just connect with someone? Will I find love?”
First-year Sarah Curtis plays an overly independent character who, throughout the play, transitions to become open and vulnerable to the outside world. She said, “I think that ‘Edges’ was a really fantastic choice, because it not only showcases the voices of everyone in the cast but also addresses common themes throughout each song that people can really relate to. In the grand scheme of things, the show is really genuine and universal.”
Even the audition process foreshadowed how connected the show would be to the ideas of collegiate atmosphere and personal development. Curtis had to prepare a song for the directors and stage manager as well as recite a monologue. Perhaps the most interesting part of the process that had a lot to do with the overall theme of the show was the “additional talents” portion of the audition, where Curtis ended up freestyle rapping to an instrumental version of “Ms. Jackson” by Outkast.
The songs in this production were written when the authors were sophomores in college, the exact age of Harrison and Van Patten currently, emphasizing the fact that everyone here can relate to them in one way or another. The songs encompass many issues that we deal with on a daily basis, “emphasizing the importance of communication and vulnerability when becoming an adult,” claimed Harrison.
He stated, “all of the actors in the show sing songs about love, breakups, divorce, family, careers, as well as many other subjects around this central question. We still want to make these characters come alive by giving them some sort of story. While we believe that the emotion of the characters is most important to express to the audience we have also made relationships and small story arcs between the songs and characters.”
The cast of students that bring these characters to life have been working tirelessly with Harrison and Van Patten for weeks to perfectly convey the messages “Edges” embraces.
“I could not have asked for a more perfect cast,” exclaimed Harrison. “Theater is all about collaboration and this cast was the epitome of it. All of them are talented singers, musicians, and actors. They were so patient when Katie and I were behind schedule or a little flustered from dealing with important director duties. These are powerful songs accompanied by powerful actors.”
The audience can expect to be not only wowed by the talent of the performers like Curtis, but also to be faced with resonating contemplations about who we are as the human race as well as individually.
Curtis added, “the audience can expect to see some great performances sing songs from comedic to serious, all of which are moving.”