'Wonderful Town' offers new challenge for GV Opera Theatre
Grand Valley State University’s Opera Theatre is encouraging students to grow with their upcoming production of Wonderful Town, which will debut in February. The musical tells the story of two sisters from Ohio that move to New York City seeking success and their detours along the way. The show boasts 25 student actors, a 14-person production crew and 20 student musicians in the pit orchestra.
Dale Schriemer, a vocal professor at GVSU and director of the Opera Theatre, said the students are being challenged with new skills that accompany a comedic musical.
“Students are learning how to perform in a comedic piece and get people to laugh at what they do,” Schriemer said. “They have to sing, act and dance while they’re doing all of that, so there are multiple aspects to their skill development in the show.”
Senior theatre student Bruno Rodrigues, who plays out-of-season football player Wreck, cited moving parts as a demand throughout the production, from set pieces to passersby and quick character entrances.
“The show is also very dynamic, so a lot of characters come in on stage for a very specific reason and leave right away,” Rodrigues said. “So just watching out for all of these many multiple parts is the most challenging.”
Wonderful Town is under the direction of 2009 GVSU alumnus Chris Carter, who works professionally in Chicago. Carter has returned to GVSU to direct productions in previous years, with his expertise elevating GVSU’s Opera Theatre to a higher level each time.
“He works so fast, he’s very efficient...so just having this experience of working professionally but on campus is very rewarding,” Rodrigues said.
Mikayla Berghorst, a vocal performance major, hits the stage as Ruth, one of the sisters who aspires to be a writer. Berghorst said this role allows for her to “let go and be a little crazy on stage,” with the support of the 25-person cast.
“The most rewarding thing about putting on this production is being a part of a talented cast and creating something together that we can share with the community,” Berghorst said. “I'm so thankful for the support of people who come to share in the experience with the cast.”
With the musical written by Broadway greats Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Schriemer promises a show that everyone can enjoy.
“This is a stellar team, written amazingly...a funny, delightful piece. It has a broad appeal,” Schriemer said.
“The size of the set and the costumes and the story is hilarious, so I think that it’s something that we haven’t seen at Grand Valley for a really long time,” Rodrigues said, promising that the show will be “huge” in more ways than one.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of, as well as to watch, because it’s not a musical that’s done often. It will be a very, very enlightening experience for the audience to be a part of this really laugh-out-loud comedy with us," he said.
Wonderful Town will debut on Feb. 8 and continue through Feb. 17 in the Louis Armstrong Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at the box office.