Madison Baker put her notebook on the table. The front and back covers are wrapped in a homemade collage she put together, and its pages are filled with notes on Crazypeople, the musical that occupied the intimate Bonn Studio Theater from January 27 to 30.
Opening the notebook to its central page, Baker, director of Crazypeople and MCAS ’22, revealed the lined pages are surrounded by splashes of dark color pierced with vibrant blues. Alongside these stark contrasts of light and dark, ordinary images of roads and highways appear grim.
The notebook contains Baker’s creative inspiration for the musical and depicts the show’s process of moving from page to stage, a process that began in March 2021.
The Boston College Theater Department reserves the position of director of its winter production for senior theater majors, who apply for the position and submit a proposal for the show they wish to put on. Baker said she’s been anticipating the opportunity to direct a production since her start in British Columbia.
“I was so moved by the piece,” Baker said. “And I thought it was such an important story to tell, but [it] still depicts stress, anxiety, fear and vulnerability in a way that I have never seen or articulated before.
After the department accepted her application in the spring, Baker met with all of the show’s student designers: set designer Lily Telegdy, Lynch ’23, costume designer Franny Giangiulio, MCAS ’23, and lighting designers Jun Choi, MCAS ’23 and Sophia Lombardo, MCAS ’23.
The group reflected on the show’s visual themes, which Baker’s eclectic collage embodies. Crazypeople is the first student-directed musical the BC Theater Department has produced, although it has produced student-directed plays in the past.
In front of the audience as they entered the black box theater was a three-dimensional version of the images Baker had presented in his diary. A gray board sat center stage with its surface fragmented by triangular pieces. Vibrant LED lights illuminate behind the pieces. Ahead stood the steely silhouette of a car.
The musical opens with Samantha (Giovanna Befeler, MCAS ’23) singing “The Girl Who Drove Away” against a backdrop reminiscent of an explosion. Until her senior year of high school, Samantha’s life had been complicated but planned to perfection. She had the same boyfriend, Adam (Nick Rossi, MCAS ’23), for three years. Her bossy mother, Beverly (Julia Parks, CSON ’24), was determined that Samantha would follow in her footsteps in the Ivy League.
But Samantha’s world imploded when her best friend Kelly (Abby Wachter, MCAS ’25) died in a car accident during their senior year. What was supposed to be a year full of memories turned into a year of reflection for Samantha. Already wondering if she should go to college or stay with her boyfriend, the death of the one person who made her feel free made Samantha want to embark on her own adventure.
The musical deals with the heavy subject of loss, but there are strong comedic moments interspersed, as Samantha deals with other characters in her life. In Adam’s humorous ballad “The Proposal”, he begs Samantha “Won’t you please have sex with me? / I make great Darjeeling tea.
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and winter breaks interrupting rehearsals, the production process was far from straightforward. The cast’s first week of rehearsal took place over Zoom due to a cast member testing positive for COVID-19.
Since the actors had to rehearse the music over Zoom, Emma Roney, Music Director, Sound Designer and MCAS ’22, used sample tracks from the songs and isolated each actor’s vocal parts from the tracks to make learning easier. of their individual parts. . Roney also gave each actor the track with every vocal arrangement except their own, allowing them to hear how their voices sounded together without singing at the same time or in the same room.
“I mean, I think our cast was so talented it was easy because they learned quickly,” Roney said.
The Roney-led music coincided with Samantha’s shifting feelings throughout the show. When Samantha alludes to Kelly’s tragic car accident, a heartbeat echoes in the background.
Likewise, the light emanating from the gray shards in the background changed depending on the emotions of the characters. When Samantha expressed her frustrations about her mother, the light turned pink, the color of love. Even though Samantha gets mad at Beverly, her love for her mother still shines through. As Beverly talks about the stress of teaching Samantha to drive, the lighting becomes brighter and more intense to match her growing anxiety.
Performers in Crazypeople entered the stage from all directions but generally congregated near the car prop which remained the focal point of the set. The constant presence of the car shows that to solve the other problems in her life, Samantha must recognize the one that causes her the most pain, no matter how hard she tries to avoid it.
As the actors faced the challenges of the rehearsal process together, the four actors individually stepped up to dive into their character study and also forged a close bond with each other, Baker said. Wachter agreed that the four cast members bonded strongly throughout the intense production process.
“It was a very tight-knit group, and we all really supported each other,” Wachter said. “And [we were] all working very hard. The hours were long,… but I think the group we made made it possible to work in these circumstances.”
The show went ahead with just 14 rehearsal days before starting dress rehearsals. Not only did the cast and crew connect over the story they were telling, but the musical’s theme of figuring out your path in life ties in with a college audience.
As a high school student, Baker said the show resonated with her as she approached a new phase in life.
“I sometimes get uncomfortable watching it because I can literally see myself having these [same] conversations and I can see myself in these characters, which is a good thing,” Baker said. “And you know, I don’t think theater is supposed to make us feel comfortable. But, it’s really exciting.
Featured Images by Vikrum Singh / Heights Editor