By MEREDITH RIGBY
Monday morning, music students could be seen stumbling half-awake to their classes in Nunnelly Music Building. One cannot blame them for looking a little worn out though: they had just finished a whirlwind weekend full of performances of this year’s musical, “Clara, My Love,” followed by a complete striking of the set after the Sunday night show and a celebratory excursion to Steak’n’Shake that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. They deserved to celebrate; the world premier of Dr. Hunnicutt’s show was a great success.
One of the reasons the show turned out so well was that it was written specifically for the students who were involved. That way the music fit their voices, and their characters meshed well with their personalities. Another reason was undoubtedly the hard work and dedication that all the singers, dressers and crew put into it. It was evident that they took their parts seriously. Everyone had their lines solidly memorized, and they knew their music so well that it seemed completely natural for them to burst into song at the end of a conversation. Though most students acting and singing in “Clara, My Love” were seasoned performers, everyone gets nervous when it is time to go on stage. Some of the performers shared their pre-concert rituals for getting into the zone, which included listening to music, meditation, prayer, deep breathing exercises and getting into character.
I went to see the show on Sunday night, which was said to be the best performance of all. It went very smoothly, all the small technical difficulties having been ironed out. The show opened with an overture of Schumann’s music played by a small live orchestra. In the first scene, Robert and Clara Schumann’s youngest daughter is coming to visit her sister after their mother has passed away. They serve as a frame story for the narration of their parent’s lives, reading letters and diaries and relating their own memories. I admired the skillful ways in which the focus shifted and was shared between the frame story and the main story.
The use of music was varied and interesting as well. There were solo songs, duets and a final requiem sung by all major cast members. Some songs were accompanied by the orchestra and some by piano. There were also solo piano selections. I appreciated how songs were not only inserted as reflections or monologues, but also as music illustrating action being played out at the same time. Sometimes the sung music was even a part of the action, such as in the scene where Frederich Wiek, Clara’s father, becomes angry at Robert, using a song to express to Robert how he is now “dead to me.”
Is “Clara, My Love” over? Nikita Taggart, who played Maria, the Schumann’s oldest daughter, suggests not: “I would most definitely do something like this again. Although our performances are at Georgetown College, I believe in my heart that we aren’t done performing this production. There is forthcoming potential that is yet to be seen.” There has been talk of taking the show on the road. I certainly hope the musical continues to be performed. As Clara states at the very end of the show, “the music lives on.”