This weekend and next week, is the last big show of the WIU Theatre Department’s fall semester lineup. The show is called “Merrily We Roll Along”. It will be held in the Hainline Theatre this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 14th and 15th, and next week, November 18th, 19th, and 20th; the show will start at 7:30 p.m. each night.
Professor of Theatre and Head of Acting, Bill Kincaid directs the show and is great at working with the student actors. A sophomore theatre major and one of the main character’s of “Merrily We Roll Along”, Astoncia Bhagat explained why this show is special.
“’Merrily We Roll Along’ is a Stephen Sondheim musical. Apparently we haven’t done one of his shows in about 12, 13 years, so in the Theatre Department, it is a big deal because we haven’t done one of his shows in so long,” Bhagat said.
I literally got goosebumps when Bhagat was explaining the show. The show is a tragedy centered around three friends. The crazy part is the whole show is told in reverse order. Bhagat plays the role of Beth, who is the first wife of one of the main characters, Frank Shepard.
“With each scene you go back in time and you see what happened to their friendship, what happened to them as human beings, and what happened to their dreams and goals. The show ends where it all began with the three of them meeting for the first time on a rooftop. You see all the potential and hope they have as young kids. (You might be thinking) Why would you want to see that? Why would you see a tragedy told backwards? You want a happy ending. I just look at it as this is what can become of us and this is how we cannot turn into that. It reminds you to hold on to the hope throughout your life,” Bhagat said.
Western is one of the few universities in Illinois to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre. This makes it very exciting that Western will be opening a Center for the Performing Arts because it will hopefully draw students from all over the state and nation to WIU. The construction of the Center for Performing Arts will start during the spring or summer of 2015. Although Bhagat will have graduated before the grand opening of the Center, she is excited to see how the WIU Theatre Department grows after its construction. The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre is a signature program at Western; Bhagat loves that the department is a family away from home to her.
“I love how much you feel like you are part of a family. I will never forget the first time I met Lysa Fox, Head of the Musical Theatre Department. I met her at Theatre Fest my senior year (of high school). You go and audition for all the colleges that are there. At the end of it you get a list of all the colleges that want to speak to you. Western Illinois was on there so I went to their booth and I officially met Lysa face-to-face and she gave me a big hug…and first of all that’s nuts because most people just shake your hand. She said you have to come visit Western. That really stood out to me and that feeling has remained true since I’ve been here,” said Bhagat.
You can buy tickets for the upcoming show, “Merrily Rolling Along” at the Hainline Theatre Box Office located directly inside the doors of Browne Hall or at http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/organizationSearch.jsp?organization_id=2419&cobrand=wiu.