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Nov. 3, 2021 LA GRANDE, Ore. – The Eastern Oregon University community can look forward to a resumption of live theater on campus after a nearly 20-month hiatus, with the production of “All Together Now” on Nov. 12 and 13.
The upcoming performance is part of a global effort to celebrate and commemorate the reopening of live theater, and features a medley of hits from classic Broadway musicals like “Rent,” “Hairspray,” and more.
Students in the EOU Music Department, Theater Department and Chamber Choir will join a chorus of over 2,500 schools and theaters concurrently performing the production on its premier weekend.
“Basically, it’s celebrating Broadway’s reopening and us coming out of quarantine and starting to be able to move forward with live theater. It’s a great fundraiser for us, plus it’s great to be part of this thing that is so worldwide,” said Theatre Professor Kenn Wheeler, who is directing the show. “Every song kind of matches the theme of, ‘let’s put the bad behind us and start forward on a new day.’”
Wheeler had just seven weeks to put the performance together. Eight team members are collaborating to produce “All Together Now” at EOU, counting Wheeler, four staff members, an accompanist, and three choreographers.
The cast of “All Together Now” is composed entirely of the EOU Chamber Choir. Currently, 41 students are involved, though closer to 50 will help with the final production. There are seven group numbers, five using the entire choir along with one male and female group each, along with numerous quartets, trios and solos.
Wheeler noted that the students have been quick to pick things up, despite some non-theatre majors needing time adjusting to the rehearsal schedule, and seem to be genuinely invested in the production. One particular student Wheeler spoke of was originally content filling a backstage role, before taking music lessons and earning their own solo.
“That really excites me. To see somebody who thought that they couldn’t do something be able to do it so powerfully,” Wheeler said.
During a rehearsal on Oct. 26, the choir practiced a mix of choreography and songs, including “Seasons of Love,” “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” and “Seize the Day.” Students expressed their excitement to perform live again and practice together as a group.
“Considering I didn’t even have a real choir class last year, it feels really good,” one student said.
And Wheeler said feeling good is the goal. The direction of “All Together Now’s” song choices, taken from a mixture of artists and productions, will focus on moving on from hardship and looking forward to the next great thing.
“There seemed to be like two different themes that came out depending on the song choice. One theme was what’s happened to us has been bad, but we’re moving on, starting new we’re seizing the day,” Wheeler said. “And the other one was a little bit more somber about looking at how badly this has affected us. And so I chose songs, with very few exceptions, that had the more positive message.”
EOU’s production of “All Together Now” will be performed for the public at 7 p.m., Nov. 12 and 13 in McKenzie Theater, located in Loso Hall. The theater will be filled to three-fourths capacity to allow for social distancing. Only 300 tickets will be sold for each performance and masks will be required for all attendees. All seating is general admission.
A special matinee performance is slated for 12 p.m., Nov. 15 primarily for area high schools. School groups can attend for free. Contact Mike Heater at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information. The community is also welcome to attend this midday showing.
Admission costs $15. EOU students can be admitted for free with their student ID. Tickets can be purchased at the door starting an hour before the show, online at tix.com/ticket-sales/tix/6521, or by calling 541-962-3757.
“The best way for the community, even the EOU community, to support the production is to attend, share in the talents and that magic that we’re able to create on stage. My philosophy is theater only exists if there’s an audience,” Wheeler said.
Written by PR Intern Garrett Christensen
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