Friday, February 24, 2017

From NY to Derry

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The cast of Doomsday Romance backstage at the Stockbridge.
If you’re wondering what caused the Flying Spaghetti Monster to invade the quiet rural neighborhoods of Derry a few weeks ago and land on the Stockbridge Theatre stage, ask the students who attended last year’s APAP conference in New York City.  Their enthusiasm for this talented Broadway’s Next Hit Musical group resulted in Pinkerton witnessing the creation of its very own musical, Doomsday Romance. Patrons roared at this talented and hilarious troupe’s creative spontaneity, and they were able to walk away with their very own souvenir, a download of the new locally world famous next Broadway hit, “The Flying Spaghetti Monster.”  If they wanted, they could purchase the entire score of Doomsday Romance, which the troupe created in mere minutes after the audience voted for its favorite from four “nominated” songs whipped up on stage based upon the song titles audience members had created and placed in a fishbowl as they entered the theater.  That night we sat in our seats hoping that our song name would be picked, experienced the thrill of a sorta somewhat actual awards show, and watched six people create a whole musical based upon that one slip of paper.  The audience rose to their feet at the end of that evening with sheer delight, all at our Stockbridge Theatre.

Jose Limon Dance captivated audiences with their new work.
And all because a group of our students and faculty rushed from one showcase to another in a three-day whirlwind APAP experience.  This year, to add to the excitement, Mother Nature threw in a major snowstorm that made us navigate slush and snowbanks to see the entire spectrum of talent that is available not only in America’s theater district, but from touring companies all across the world.  The highlights for me were certainly Elise Management’s dance showcase (for reasons that only a few of us PA attendees can appreciate!), particularly Limon Dance Company; the Estonian Piano Orchestra, with eight pianists playing four grand pianos; and the spectacular Cirque Eloize, which truly lived up to its billing as a musical acrobatic adventure. My first major takeaway, having attended a multitude of Broadway productions in my life, was the amazing talent that lies beyond the Times Square or Lincoln Center area.  I finally saw my first off-Broadway production, a spoof on Harry Potter that had Mrs. T and me laughing throughout—and fascinated by the two Potter groupies sitting in front of us.  I visited talent venues tucked away in buildings that the average tourist would only pass by on his or her way to St. Patrick’s or Rockefeller Center—one jazz concert at the Yamaha piano studio was particularly compelling.  Yes, I saw jazz. The second takeaway from all these experiences—especially as a result of visiting the three floors 
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Mr. Gaucher made sure that the students had ample snacks for the trip.
of talent exhibitions at the Hilton—is that the world of entertainment offers a wide variety of career opportunities for our students.  We focused on entertainers, but they are only the tip of the entertainment industry iceberg. Behind the scenes, the opportunities exist for artists and writers and business people and producers and designers and . . . the list goes on.  If our students want to work in a creative industry, there is a profession out there for them, and their experiences at the Stockbridge Theatre—and at the APAP conference—provide a great background for those who dream to be a part of the world of arts and entertainment.

-Peter Gaucher, English Department Head