Mandy Moe Pwint Tu
Sewanee’s theatre and dance students came together one windy Tuesday evening to perform for an intimate audience in the Studio Theatre at the Tennessee Williams Center. Advertised as “Dynamics: Pizza and Dance with Songs and Monologues,” the event showcased the talents of Sewanee’s actors, singers, and dancers, and served to celebrate the last stretch of the Easter semester.
Robin Kate Davis (C’21) and Adelle Dennis (C’21), who spearheaded the event, were inspired to organize an informal event modeled after DanceWise that would feature more theatrical and dance forms.
“Our goal was to attract a wider range of audience members, including people who may not have been to a dance show before,” said Davis. “Putting together an entire show was definitely more of a challenge than Adelle and I expected it to be.”
With little experience with technical and crew aspects of the performance, Davis and Dennis were uncertain about how to execute the show. They received help from theatre tech students and faculty and in the process learned how to improve future performances. Deciding to have the show on the Tuesday after spring break, however, presented its own set of difficulties.
“No tech week, limited rehearsal time, and all finishing touches and the things that you might forget need to happen got pulled together in about two days,” recalls Davis. “We were very glad that the audience was full and there was a wide variety of viewers.”
The event kicked off with dancers Davis, Paige Greenberg (C’20), Kalynn Harrington (C’18), Julianna Morgan (C’21), Macy Ninness (C’21), and Danielle Silfies (C’19) performing to the song “This is Me” from the film The Greatest Showman.
“This dance pushed me a little out of my comfort zone,” said Davis, who choreographed the dance. “Although it was not hip-hop at all, it got closer to that line, something that I’m not super comfortable with performing, much less choreographing, so that was a fun exercise.”
Marion Givhan (C’18) followed the performance with a monologue from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was one of two Shakespearean monologues performed at the event, the other being Will Burton-Edwards’s (C’18) rendition of the King’s speech from All’s Well that Ends Well. Burton-Edwards introduced his piece with a humorous conversational summary of the circumstances that led to the speech itself, outlining the motives of different characters by stepping briefly into their shoes.
Karissa Wheeler (C’19) sang “Fever” with Nicholas Powell (C’19) accompanying her on the guitar. Wheeler decided on “Fever” primarily because it was in her repertoire; she sent a recording of Peggy Lee singing the song to Powell, who subsequently arranged the accompaniment on his guitar.
“We actually didn’t rehearse together until the night before Pizza & Dance and then a few more times before the show the day of,” Wheeler recalls. “He was so amazing to work with, and his musicianship and talent really shone through during the rehearsal process and actual performance.”
The event concluded with a Beyonce mashup, choreographed by Ninness, which was an apt and enjoyable way to end the evening.
“I thought the event had a really lovely, relaxed spirit,” said Jim Crawford, associate professor of acting. “I’m hoping this becomes a tradition at Sewanee- a refreshing evening fun, short pieces, followed by pizza.”