Friday, November 14, 2003

Fun in the sun
'Go-Go Beach' premiers with musical score by Concordia alumnus

By D. Marie Long
The Concordian

Imagine summer. Imagine lounging and playing on the beach in the warm sun. The summer may be a fading memory now, with snow collecting on the ground and freezing air blowing through the corridors, but really summer is just around the corner. That warmer season is in full swing right here on campus, in the Frances Frazier Comstock Theatre.

"Go-Go Beach" is Concordia Theatre's second main stage production of the year. This brand new musical is currently being marketed for Broadway and commercial theater productions by its creators (one of whom is a Concordia alumnus) but will be done here this weekend and next for the first fully produced college production.

It started with an email, subject heading "Go-Go Beach," a theater graduate was simply keeping in touch with his Concordia College professor. Included amongst the regular, polite e-mail conversation, Brent Lord ('98) announced to his former professor Jim Cermak that he had composed music and lyrics for a musical. Indulging his former student, Cermak requested that Lord send him the music he had composed. One listen to the sample CD and Cermak was in love. Cermak is now the director of Concordia's production of "Go-Go Beach."

Amongst an entire Concordia College Theatre season of regional premieres, "Go-Go Beach" has never been fully produced by a college before. "Go-Go Beach" is brand new: the choreography, the characters and the entire atmosphere are unique to Concordia's production because there is no other performance to which to compare it.

"It's so exciting to think that no one has ever heard these songs or seen these dances before," said junior Scott Brusven, a cast member.

A brand new show allows for some artistic freedom.

"This show was like a big, clean canvas on which we could paint anything," Cermak said.

Certain challenges come with an original new show. The writers of the musical were still in the process of making improvements to their fresh script while Concordia was trying to produce it.

"There were last-minute changes to the songs and the script up until two weeks before we opened," said Molly Zupancich, a junior who serves as the assistant to the director.

Priority was given to the dancing and musical elements of the show. The cast worked extensively on getting down their moves to give the show a beach movie feel. Choreographer Matthew Gasper had to create unique concepts for all of the dances, all the time making certain that the scenes tied together with the beach party theme because the beach party is the very heart of "Go-Go Beach."

"The dancing is just like partying on the beach!" said freshman cast member Charlie Retzlaff.

The set moves and splits in half, morphing every set piece so it can match the numerous locations. Black lights set the entire cast into a neon whirlwind of flashing, dancing color. And the costumes include 1960's classics: Hawaiian print shirts, hula skirts and flowing hippie bell-bottoms.

"'Go-Go Beach' is very teeny bopper, but in a way that is vibrant and happy. You'll be in a great mood with songs stuck in your head after you see the show," said Ann Demmer, a sophomore who plays Kookie.

The "Swinging '60's" were the peak time for beach movies, with simple plots about "boys and girls meeting the birds and the bees." Activities like surfing, dancing, rocking out with ukuleles and soaking up the sun's rays consume the daily lives of the kids at "Go-Go Beach."

The musical recalls a time in everyone's life when things were less complicated.

"There's a scene for every 'catastrophe' we go through as teenagers: the first encounters with the opposite sex, the young lovers' quarrel," Cermak said.

In addition to the lively and fun atmosphere, the characters all go on a journey of self-discovery, at the end of which they figure out a little something about life. The kids at "Go-Go Beach" live happily ever after in the end, but that's because during their "way-out, grooviest" summer ever they discover who they are.

Students, faculty and staff can pick up their free tickets to "Go-Go Beach" at the box office in the Frances Frazier Comstock Theatre lobby. .

"Go-Go Beach" performances are at 8 p.m. tonight, tomorrow night, Nov. 21 and 22, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

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