“Showcase”: A review of the theatre dpt.’s setlist for festival

ShowcaseOn Feb. 15, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. in Carlson Theatre, the Bellevue College theatre arts department, chaired and directed by Tammi Doyle, put on an evening of showcase materials before the company travelled to compete at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Sacramento, Calif.

With a line-up of 23 scenes, ranging from musical theatre to improvisation to monologues, the sheer length of the performance seemed to drain one’s energy by the end. With the exception of a selected few, the entire night’s line-up might have very well been advertised as “one throwaway after another” than any sort of “showcase.”

That said, let there be no rumor that BC’s  theatre arts department is completely without talent.

Based on the controversial play “Spring Awakening” (1891) by German playwright Frank Wedekind, “Totally F***ed” from Duncan Sheik’s “Spring Awakening” with book and lyrics by Steven Sater, was as exhilarating to see performed again and with such energy, as when it was when making its Broadway debut in 2006. Advertised as “1891 collides with 2013,” in this scene of musical theatre depicts the character Melchoir, as played by Danny Lacker, confronted by his schoolmasters for writing an essay on sex, subsequently found following the suicide of his friend Moritz. Blamed for the death by association to the essay, Melchoir knows that despite being innocent of wrongdoing, there is nothing he can do to fight the charges laid against him, thus “Totally F***ed.” The active choreography and epic vocal ensemble were of such grandeur quality it was perhaps unfair to lead off the night with this gem for the monologues and scenes to follow were severely lacking the same energy and refinement.

From an underappreciated tooth fairy dodging SMS to a militaristic drum major leading a band of stuffed friends, the monologues were all well-rehearsed, but by no means were they Shakespeare.

However, it would be unfair to write off all the monologues performed that night; there was in fact one outstanding definitely worth noting.

Maddie Dugan’s performance alongside James Webster followed by her concluding monologue, “Green-Eyed Monster,” by Dennis Schebetta, who stole the show. In what should perhaps have been the final performance to wrap up the evening, this sequence depicted the relationship of two dogs while addressed in relatable human terms: aging, sex and friendship. Dugan’s explosive performance was a wonderful reminder of what the audience had come to witness that night, and served as a much-needed palate cleanser. Sending shockwaves of laughter and energy rolling through the audience, this quirky scene quickly cut away any doubts of Dugan that may have been cast earlier in the night when her voice just wasn’t quite there to handle musical numbers from “Annie” and “Sister Act.”

It was unfortunate that following such a brilliantly satisfying performance, the finale to follow had to be an improvisational piece themed “shoveling poop,” by Stone Tablet Improv. It was such a tasteless, childishly-obnoxious and a disheartening end to the night. If it had not been for Dugan’s performance moments before, one would have a hard time discerning between the “showcase” and a high school talent show. It would have been better had the company stop whilst they were a little ahead than drag the night on for the chance to make a couple crappy jokes, pun intended. If the BC theatre arts department was trying to “showcase” anything, they only managed to highlight the performances of a select few whose skill appears to be well beyond that of the rest of the cast.