Elizabethtown College to premiere production of musical “If/Then” Nov. 1
This year, Elizabethtown College will be putting on a production of the 2014 Broadway musical If/Then in early November in the Tempest Theatre. Michael Swanson, associate professor of theatre and director of theatre and dance, is directing this year’s production of If/Then.
“It’s a relatively new musical. We don’t get a chance to do new musicals very often,” Swanson said about choosing If/Then to be a part of this season.
The College’s selection committee is the three theatre faculty members and two students, and they choose three plays to make up the season. Every other season, they include a musical as one of the three plays. They consider reasons the plays would go together, such as theme, time period, etc. They also typically try to have one play to fill one of three categories: the crowd pleaser, which is the musical this year; a classic play, alternating between modern and ancient; and a cutting-edge play.
“If/Then has relatively few male roles. Our acting pool is heavily female, so we try to pick shows with a heavier female cast,” Swanson said about one of the many reasons for selecting this musical.
If/Then follows the story of Elizabeth, a recently divorced woman who moves back to New York City, which she considers her hometown, for a fresh start. One day, she meets with her two friends Kate and Lucas in the park, and each offers how she should spend the day. She ultimately chooses both, and the audience follows her day as “Liz” with Kate and “Beth” with Lucas.
“It has a great deal of LGBTQ characters. It’s about time; I mean, it’s 2018!” Swanson said about its selection and storyline. “It’s all a part of the world and is understood to be so.”
Emily Seratch, a senior international business major with a finance concentration, is playing the role of Elizabeth and her two different personas from her choices, Liz and Beth. She said that though she is on stage for a majority of the show playing the main character, the ensemble really carries the show.
“They make the music dynamic and they fill in so many different facets,” she said. “The songs are super intense and require really dynamic singers.”
“I swear if I was an ensemble member I would be losing my mind over the amount of changes they go through,” Seratch said.
This show is primarily a musical comedy, but not exclusively, according to Swanson. It shows that while choices have their benefits, they can also lead to losses. Swanson also discussed that while most musicals show the circumstances leading to a choice, If/Then shows what happens as a result of a choice that is made at the beginning, and the audience gets to see the result.
Seratch noted the similarities between the themes in the show and what is happening in her life currently. She said that she is always the person who sits on decisions and thinks about all of the options.
“Looking into the future is always scary and with applying for jobs and apprenticeships I am always wondering which choice to make. I think this show perfectly illustrates this concept,” she said.
Swanson said that though they have had to overcome scheduling challenges, they have done so successfully and the actors are excited to perform, especially certain songs that are cast favorites. Swanson is also happy to be working with an orchestra for the performances.
Dylan Warner, a junior business administration major, plays the role of Josh, a military doctor returning from his second tour. Although he had never heard of the show before starting the production, he said that he has grown to love it. He said that it has a lot of emotion written into it and has a great story to tell.
“It can be a little confusing for the audience with the constant world changing going on, but I’m optimistic about our ability to make the transition between worlds clear and to keep the emotion running strong throughout,” Warner said.
Warner also said that he thinks that the way that the show deals with the idea of choices is very unique. He also said that while the show does cover some heavier and more thought-provoking topics, there is something for everyone.
“If you are looking for a powerful examination of concepts like fate, love, tragedy, heartbreak, and the like, they are all explored in this show. However, it is also an entertaining musical with plenty of lighthearted moments and songs,” Warner said.
Performances will take place on Nov. 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. in the Tempest Theatre in the Brossman Commons on campus.