MU students find their own way to participate in musical theater

Mizzou Off-Broadway produces a student-run musical revue.

By Anna Maples | March 13, 2016

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Mizzou Off-Broadway, a new “low-commitment theater” student organization and nonprofit, will stage its first musical revue, “Make the Moment Last,” Tuesday night.

“It’s something I’ve always been interested in,” co-founder and co-president of the club Katie Hayes says. “I loved theater in high school, and it was something that I really wanted to keep a part of my life here. There just wasn’t that much of an opportunity for it as a biology major.”

Hayes and her co-founder, Maggie Kickham, have made it their mission to provide a way for busy MU students to participate in theater for as much or as little time as they can spare.

“That’s kind of the beauty of the musical revue: We can cast people in individual numbers and, depending on how much time they want to put in, they can be put in more or fewer numbers,” Hayes says.

Their goals have worked out pretty well, especially considering that this is the first year of the organization, according to choreographer and MU sophomore Mary Klarsch.

“It’s something I’ve definitely been able to manage,” Klarsch says. “We just have a couple of rehearsals a week, and then I just pop my headphones in and listen to the songs on the way to and from class.”

Klarsch is studying pre-physical therapy and elementary education with the goal of becoming a dance teacher. She let Kickham and Hayes know about her experience at the audition, and they asked her to help with choreography.

“Even though they’ve just been in shows in the past, they really know how to put together a show,” Klarsch says. “They’re doing everything from directing and blocking to doing voice lessons and helping me clean up choreography.”

Morgan Mechelke, a sophomore strategic communications student, was recruited through her sorority for her music skills.

“I had heard about it from Katie,” Mechelke says. “She was talking it up like crazy because it’s kind of like her baby now, and we’re in Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority together.”

Mechelke comes to rehearsals whenever a song has more difficult parts to sing and her help is needed.

“I compare myself, I guess, to Kelsi from ‘High School Musical,’” Mechelke says.

Musical theater is a new experience for Mechelke, but she has been pleasantly surprised by it.

“It’s something different than I have done so far in college, and I’m getting to meet so many people from different areas that I wouldn’t have come in contact with otherwise,” Mechelke says.

Although members of Mizzou Off-Broadway are encouraged to dedicate only as much or as little time as they want, there has been an unexpectedly large amount of participation, according to Klarsch.

“Everyone is so dedicated, which really surprised me,” Klarsch says. “I thought when they said ‘low-commitment theater’ that people wouldn’t be showing up to rehearsals.”

The musical revue is set to include songs from many successful and well-known musicals from both Broadway and Off-Broadway.

“We’ve got everything from ‘Chicago’ to ‘Hairspray’ to ‘Bring It On,” Klarsch says.

Those with little theater knowledge shouldn’t be scared away, though, according to Mechelke.

“Personally, I haven’t seen very many musicals and there are a couple songs that I’m very familiar with,” Mechelke says. “For each person, there will be at least one song that they have heard before.”

Highlights of the production will include “La Vie Boheme” from “Rent,” “Candy Store” from the musical adaptation of “Heathers,” and “For Good” from “Wicked.”

Mizzou Off-Broadway’s musical revue will take place 7 p.m. March 15 in Jesse Auditorium. Proceeds will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Columbia to support their fine arts programs.

Edited by Elana Williams | ewilliams@themaneater.com

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