Theater students to showcase Christmas classics

While students all over campus review their notes in preparation for finals, the cast members of Theatre TCU’s production “We Need a Little Christmas” are busy with a different kind of revue.

“I don’t think that a musical revue is something that a lot of our contemporary students have been exposed to,” said Harry Parker, the show’s director. “It’s very fast-paced. There is no dialogue: no one talks really, there’s maybe a line here and there. There’s no scenes, there’s no monologues: it’s just song after song after song.”

Eight student singers and two student dancers, all members of the musical theater program, will perform a series of more than 40 songs in about 90 minutes, Parker said.

Parker and musical director Alan Shorter picked most of the songs in “We Need a Little Christmas” from Broadway musicals because they wanted to give musical theater students the chance to showcase their acting ability as well as their voices, he said.

“We tried to pick some songs that gave them the opportunity to create a little one-act play, or an interesting situation or a character they can play while they’re singing the song,” Parker said. “They are a specific character; they have specific objectives and goals they are trying to achieve. They have an audience that they’re singing to – a sister, a lover, a brother, a parent, a friend – in a certain situation.”

Although the show will include a number of holiday classics, like “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” Parker said he’s looking forward to introducing audience members to some new favorites.

Senior musical theater major Eric Dobbins said his favorite number is “definitely not your typical Christmas song.”

“I do a song called ‘Send Me a Wife for Christmas,’ which is written by the same guy who did ‘Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,'” he said. “It’s this hick man who’s writing Santa and he’s completely sexist, so he’s asking for this perfect wife, in his mind, which is really not P.C. But it’s very funny.”

Senior musical theater major Rachel Rice said it was hard to learn so many new songs, especially because the cast members had less than a month to prepare.

“We got the sheet music, and we started rehearsing it, and a couple days later we had to be off book and singing it from memory,” she said. “Typically, for our big musicals, we usually have about five to six weeks.”

Because most of the actors appear in more than 20 of the musical numbers, they also had more material to memorize more than normal, she said. Most of the time, performers only have to learn five to ten songs per show, Rice said.

Parker said this is the first musical revue Theatre TCU has produced. It’s also the first time the theater department has put on a performance to celebrate the Christmas season. However, Parker said he plans to make musical revues a regular part of Theatre TCU’s annual lineup. The students involved in the musical theater program need more opportunities to perform, he said.

“We’re informally committed to trying to do a musical revue each year in the semester when we’re not doing the big musical,” he said. “One musical a year didn’t seem like enough.”

There will be six performances at the Buschman Theatre. Four of the performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4-7 and two are at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 6 and 7. Tickets are $10 to the public and $5 to senior citizens, students from other schools and TCU students, faculty and staff.