Seventy-year old retirees with cash to spare will love this show. Tight-wired, straight-edged, penny-pinching intellectuals, on the other hand, just might not get it. It's too basic.
Secrets Every Traveler Should Know, a regional debut presented by the Oberlin Student Theater Association, may not be complicated enough to attract the masses of pensive Oberlin students. In contrast to the bulk of Oberlin student performances, this show is intended solely for entertainment value.
In the words of the director, senior classics major Becca Gershowitz, Secrets "is not deep and it shouldn't be. It's just what it is and shouldn't be over-analyzed."
The question remains: can knowledge-fixated Oberlin students handle the stress of enduring a performance which aims to de-stress? Maybe not.
But for those willing to suspend their highly intellectualized endeavors, Gershowitz's direction of Secrets offers Midwesterners a chance to view New York's longest-running new musical of this season.
With its purpose in mind, the cast and crew of Secrets have worked hard and efficiently-they had less than a week to rehearse in their stage space, Wilder Main-to produce a tight, energetic interpretation of Scott Perrin's script.
Based on true travel follies found in Fodor's travel magazine, the stories presented are at times exaggerated. For instance, in "Seeing America First," the actual couple had not really been drowned in the lava of Mount St. Helen or attacked by the bears of Yellowstone National Park.
Played by first-year Aaron Mucciolo and senior Sasha Pollack, the scene itself was exaggerated. Hence its appeal. The six cast members, each fortified with strong and pure-sounding vocals, focused on body placement and movement as well as singing.
While the lyrics and musical accompaniment were sometimes mistakenly non-synchronized, each performer clearly had made an effort to perfect his or her art, as was evident in the energy of the performance.
The most impressive aspect of Secrets was pianist Suzanne Hill. A senior psychology major, Hill was not only the solo accompanist for the entire show, she too joined the cast in singing while her fingers danced across the keys.
According to Gershowitz, Secrets is the "first Oberlin show with no issues." This could very well be true. Each cast and crew participant deserves commendation for student-producing and performing this regional debut.
To address the entertainment value, the second act couldn't compete with the excitement prompted in the first act by first-year William Dao's naked body (with the exception of a Bible which covered his privates). In fact, a two-act play composed of five to 10 minute song and dance numbers may even be too much for retirees.
Smart traveling: OSTA is puttin on the musical in Wilder. (photo by Noah Mewborn)
Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 127, Number 8, November 6, 1998
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