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Terms of Endowment:

Amateur and Drama. Two words that upon leaving University I never hoped to hear in the same sentence again.

You see for some the word amateur conjures up images of sacrifice, of dedication, of the pursuit of perfection, of someone doing something for the sheer love of the activity, irrespective of monetary reward. But for me, I hear the word amateur and I cringe. In my opinion, if you’re any good, and feel that passionately about something, you should go and make money doing it. I can’t help but think that anyone who ‘loves’ an activity that much, yet does not pursue this course of action, is invariably not as good as they’d like to believe.

This of course assumes that turning pro will earn you money, but as anyone who’s stumbled across ESPN2 can testify, people do make money competing in the world Scrabble championships, so if you’re good, apparently someone will pay.

Of course there are exceptions, but these exceptions are dwindling as the world of commercialism and globalisation takes over. Just take a look at that bastion of amateur sport, rugby football, now a multi-million dollar business.

Fine I hear you say, the great thing about amateur-anything is that it fills a niche. Clearly if you want to see the best you should pay top dollar, and if you want to see the amateurs you’ll pay a fraction of this. After all they’re not doing it for the money. But as the old wives tale goes, you get what you pay for. And if you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys.

So consider my dilemma. Not a week ago, I gladly handed over $24 to see NERD and the Black Eyed Peas put on a stunning concert. And yet, seven days later I was being asked to shell out $28 dollars to watch an amateur production. Was I worried, irrespective of whether it had the HBS name attached to it or not? You betcha.

My questions over where the ticket price was going were quickly assuaged. On entering Burden Hall, it was plain for all to see, the ticket price reflected the huge stage, the thick steel frame that arose from the ground, the myriad of lights, and radio mikes all round for the cast. This transformation could only have taken place at a place like HBS. All that for a show that lasted less than a week.

Actually, we ought to clear one thing up from here. Calling Terms of Endowment a show is a fallacy. It was really two shows packaged around each other. On the one hand, it was a great collection of individual set pieces, modern tunes subverted with HBS inside jokes, all tied together with a common story and a little drama. On the other hand, it was a modern day cover band concert that surrealistically took hit tunes from the worlds of pop, rock and Broadway shows and repackaged them in a jazz, elevator, lounge bar style. If you thought you were only there to see the drama you might have questioned the orchestra pieces that accompanied each scene change, but once you accepted that this was part of the quid-pro-quo nature of the evening, you could sit back and appreciate the orchestra for what it was, a set of effectively marshalled, individuals skilled in the art of musicianship. (Editors’ note – I know we told you that we would act more like literary critics than sports editors, but that was ridiculously pompous).

So if the band was good, that means at least half the show was entertaining. But how about the other half? What about the drama?
Well, Terms of Endowment the drama was also exceptionally well put together. For one it was a complex beast, a machine with lots of moving parts and the most tricky of all shows to put on, an ensemble piece.

There is after all, a reason so many stage plays have few cast members, outside of lower overheads. It’s because the more people there are the greater the risk that things will go wrong. Ensembles are therefore fantastic if you have lots of talented people, and terrible if only one or two can act and sing. Fortunately, there are a more than a few people at this school for whom the years of practicing in shower has paid off.

Drew Meade (NJ) and Rebecca Greenawalt (NG) led the cast superbly.

Both demonstrated admirable comic timing and their strong voices gave the show a strong foundation from which to build. The video of Whit Sellblower from when he was originally at HBS and their Scorpion Bowl duet will live long in the memories of all.

Sri Krishnamachari (NI) & Mike Butville (NB), both playing with their future prospects by taking on the roles of Dean Kester and Dean Clark also excelled. Sri in particular was inspired casting. He was clearly helped by the fact he could be Dean Kester’s identical twin, but his ‘I lost my ID’ set the tone for the rest of the evening as he camped it up to great effect.

Putnam Shin(NG), Dale Shilling(ND), Karen Horstmann(ND), Darria Long(NG), Molly McCarthy(NH), David Frias(NH), Monisha Kapila(NH) and Gordon Liao(OH) all added their colour to an entertaining supporting cast, Darria echoing the thoughts of many a student with her A Few Good Men inspired face off. But Tynesia Boyea(NI) as Anne, delivered the stand out performance. This gal has a set of pipes on her that blew the roof off, and “One moment in TOM” was worthy of any Broadway stage. We’ve had an HBS-er reach the final 2 of the Apprentice, its time for her to go on to rule American Idol. Thanks to STRAT and NEG she should be able to get herself a better deal than the current suckers on that show.

Perfectly complementing the actors was the choreography. The dancing was exceptional, demonstrating that the HBS love of all things Pravda and Trio had been put to good use. If Britney and Justin are in the market for new dancers they really out to look no further than the “White Collar Criminal” segment of this show.

It is important however to not overlook the behind- the- scenes team, the writers and the executive producers. Definite props are due to Jarred Kennedy(OF), Marc Teillon(OF) & Larry Wasserman(OF) who delivered the material that allowed each of the actors to shine and Laura Franses(NB), Maria Trokoudes(OB) and Anna Dedousis-Wallace(OD partner) who spent months co-ordinating and planning this extravaganza.

So what did we think overall? Well, your reviewers went in skeptical and came out converted. Above everything else the HBS show was fun. It had humor in spades, and was overflowing with stand out moments. Sure it’s not Broadway. Yes, it suffered from first night problems. The band was too loud, making it impossible to hear the words of some songs and some of the initial scenes seemed forced. But we’ll never be able to think of the Cranberry case in the same light, and every time we hear Ignition, Whitney’s or Don McLean’s orginals, visit the Kong, or go see Les Mis we’ll think of HBS and this show.

April 26, 2004
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