The Comenian

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Think the headline is funny? You should’ve seen the show.

The Moravian College Theatre Company put on four performances of the comedy musical [title of show] in Moravian’s Arena Theatre from Thursday, Feb. 22 to Sunday, Feb. 25. The play was written by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell.

The show starred five students — Elainea Horan ‘16 as Susan, Dalton Hornberger ‘20 as Jeff, Corinne Philbin ‘20 as Heidi, Mairead Young ‘20 as Hunter, and Emily Brands ‘16 as Mary. In the drama, Hunter and Jeff are aspiring playwrights, looking to write and produce a musical for a theatre festival. They recruit their friends Heidi, a low-key Broadway actress, and Susan, a corporate phone worker by day, into the production.

When the characters cannot figure out what to write their original musical about, they decide to create a musical about writing a musical. There begins the play-by-play of their lives, each conversation about their creation meticulously recorded and inserted into the show. The rest of the musical follows their struggles and triumphs with their musical entitled [title of show].

The play has a curious set-up, but this is what makes it so entertaining. There is immense amounts of fourth-wall breaking, character self-awareness, and witty jokes made by the cast hinting about the play being real, or a play within a play. For example, the opening song of the show is literally called, “Untitled Opening Number” with the last line being, “This is the last line of our show.” These constant jokes and references to their own performance make the show undeniably engaging because the audience is constantly forced to recognize that they are sitting in a theatre, watching a production of how musicals are created.

However, the show was more than just a slapstick, over-the-top, uncensored, witty, and wild time. The plot dealt with very serious aspects of the theatre business. It showcased the almost insurmountable struggles that unknown aspiring writers face before they strike it big—and the even more difficult struggles of when they do.

The first act of the musical shows that with so many obstacles stacked against them, it is surprising any writers are successful at all. From lack of inspiration to personal and societal doubt, writers struggle just to get their works on the page. Furthermore, the personal and interpersonal struggles that successful artists face can tear them apart if they’re not careful.

The musical proves that making it big-time is not always all it is cracked up to be. The second act of the musical reveals that struggles like critics’ reviews, and pressure from producers to change an element of the performance, can make or break a show.

Overall, the show was funny, entertaining, and heart-wrenching, all at the same time. It was a wonderful way to showcase the personal struggles and accomplishments that playwrights experience, while being delightfully entertaining, too (even if the actors only had a keyboard and four chairs).

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