Murray, KY – Campus Lights is the 73-year-old tradition of a musical production starring and run entirely by Murray State students. This year's show is The Music Man. The cast and crew of Campus Lights have been hard at work since well before Christmas, but grueling rehearsals started just a few days into 2010. Caleb Campbell has the story.
More than thirty actors in full costume shuffle across historic Lovett Auditorium's stage as they warm their vocals for another night of rehearsals. The cast and crew of Campus Lights has been hard at work since early January perfecting the 2 hour Meredith Willson classic.
The Campus Lights cast and crew consists of Murray State students. There is no professor or professionally trained director in sight. Each year, a new student director is nominated by the brothers of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and sisters of Sigma Alpha Iota. For 2010, theater major Dianne Rousseau got the job.
"As far as the part of being a director and directing your peers, it's really kind of a trip. And I think having been in the shows in the past here, both productions on campus and in Campus Lights, it's given me sort of a view point of what it would be like, but it's nothing like when you actually get in there."
Regardless of the added stress and constant responsibility, Rousseau sees the show as a musical that will please all types of music lovers.
"I think what's cool about this show is that there are so many different things happening musically. There's an incredible barber shop quartet on stage, so they've got their own thing going. We hear them intersperse throughout the show and of course, they have a really unique sound. We've also got a lot of solo pieces and some really incredible ensemble pieces that the whole cast is involved in."
Ten-hour daily rehearsals started a week before classes. Since classes have been in session, the cast and crew meet each night at Lovett Auditorium.
Senior Paul Corder of McDaniels, Kentucky plays the music man, Harold Hill. Hill is a traveling con man who comes to River City, Iowa and convinces the town that they need a boy's band to bring back morality to its youth. But, love gets in the way.
"My favorite aspect of my character is his progression throughout the show. He starts off as very in town to do his job, get in, get his money, get out.' Much to his chagrin he runs into Marian, whom he later falls in love with."
Marian Paroo is played by MSU senior Erin Silliman.
"She is the so-called spinster of the community of River City. She is the local librarian as well as music teacher. She has a very serious attitude about everything that goes on in the city. She has dreams for the city, getting the people cultured and out of their Iowa stubbornness."
For the cast, their performances will be an open window of opportunity for creative expression through musical dance and chorus singing. As for the director, it will be a proud weekend of celebration.
"I don't know that I'll do this again. I don't know if I'll have an opportunity or choose to do this or, for that matter, be on stage. But getting to experience it once was worth a thousand words and more."
While students are behind this production, the proceeds from the show will benefit incoming students. The show's proceeds will toward funding a music scholarship for an incoming student.
For WKMS news, I'm Caleb Campbell
The Music Man will be performed starting Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 pm.