Cast n Crew. Until six weeks ago, all that phrase was to me was the name of a WashU student theatre group whose mailing list I had signed up for during the activity fair the first week of freshman year. Now, when I think about that phrase, the first thing that comes to mind is murder, betrayal, and revenge.
Not really, but close.
You see, about six weeks ago, I auditioned for Cast n Crew’s production of Clue: The Musical, a musical comedy based on the classic board game, Clue. This musical takes breaking the fourth wall to a new level as the cast interacts directly with the audience as everyone works together to solve the mystery of which suspect killed Mr. Boddy with what weapon and in what room.
You know me, I love to sing. Acting, however, has become a slightly new adventure for me. I did some acting in high school but never really pursued it because I was so busy with other activities. Besides one acting class here at WashU, I hadn’t even really done any acting in college. But my friend Victoria was stage-managing Clue and encouraged me to audition because she knows how much I
obsess over love musicals (see all of my posts about the Ghost Lights if you really don’t believe me).
So I auditioned, and I was cast as Professor Plum, an awkward (or maybe that was just me) schoolteacher with a wry sense of humor and a penchant for quotes by obscure British writers. The rest, as they say, is history.
For the next six weeks, I spent almost all of my time in rehearsal learning my lines, learning to dance, and learning my blocking (the movements we do on stage that aren’t dance-related). Clue is unique in the fact that it has 216 different endings because the audience draws cards with the murderer, the weapon, and the room , and the cast had to be prepared for any and all combinations. That meant practicing every possible scenario–was it Mr. Green in the billiard room with the candlestick? Or perhaps Mrs. White in the kitchen with the lead pipe? Whatever happened, we had to be prepared.
In addition to knowing the show, we also had to build the set. The cast and the crew (hence the name of the theatre group) joined together for close to 30 hours to build a series of platforms, hallways, and even secret passageways for us to navigate through as we played the game with the audience.
And finally, it was show weekend. All of our hard work culminated into four completely sold-out shows across three days. We had a great set, we had a great cast, we had a great crew, and finally, we had a great audience with whom to interact. I was performing alongside people who had become some of my best friends in such a short time, and every performance was an opportunity to try something different in an attempt to get the audience to laugh. Overall, it was a successful run, and I learned so much about myself as an actress and even as a person.
If Cast n Crew taught me anything this semester, it’s not to be afraid to pursue what you’re passionate about. In high school, I told myself I didn’t have time for theatre. The first semester of college, I rationalized my decision not to participate in the arts because I’d been told they weren’t “practical” enough (which is not true). But after watching so many wonderfully diverse people come together with immense passion and dedication to create such an awesome show, I realize how wrong I was and how lucky I was second semester to start rekindling my love for the arts. Being part of Cast n Crew has been an incredible experience that has brought me so many new friends and so much new knowledge about putting a show together and the amazing teamwork that goes into it. It’s been enlightening in so many regards.
I’m going to end this entry in true Professor Plum fashion–with a quote from one of those aforementioned British writers. As Somerset Maugham said, “Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.” I must say that I wholeheartedly agree. Thank you Cast n Crew for teaching me that.