If you were one of the hundreds who attended Jack Welch’s speech last week, maybe you noticed something funny about good old Burden Auditorium. The normally barren stage had been replaced by big black curtains, colored flood lights, and tape on the floor denoting marks. It looked like something very serious was in the works down on that stage. And indeed it was: the HBS Show.
With a professional lighting director flown in from the West Coast, a full orchestra in the pit, and Broadway-quality sound controlled from a laptop, this is decidedly NOT akin to your typical high school production. No, the “Wizard of Hawes” is much bigger than anything you have previously seen in a school setting. And while the sets, music, and cast are on par with that you would find at Summer Stock, the show is anything but serious. Your writer was lucky enough to enjoy a sneak preview last week. And I can guarantee that the HBS Show is a must-see. You will laugh. You will cry. It’s better than “Cats”.
One thing the “Wizard of Hawes” certainly has over “Cats” is the inclusion of squirrels, the beasts that share Spangler lawn with HBS students and are reportedly shampooed on a regular basis to keep the campus looking as pristine as possible. Look out for these squirrels on set in the opening scene, a huge dance number to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” which involves shaking hands and shaking some booty. We are even treated to everyone’s favorite: jazz hands.
Professional choreographer Becky Bullard, wife of Ward Bullard (NE), is to thank for the fantastic dancing in the show. She has successfully turned even the most inept dancers into potential Usher back-ups. Some of her best choreography comes in a great scene depicting various corporate recruiters. A take-off on the women’s prison scene in “Chicago”, we see recruiters extolling the virtues of their various firms. The climax is a fight between Goldman Sachs (recruiter played by Janelle Lin, OG) and Microsoft (recruiter played by Tina Lai, NE). After HBS Show Associate Director Greg Marsh (NH) intoned to his actresses, “The fight must be convincing! There must be more anger!” Microsoft approached Goldman and the following exchange occurred:
MS: “I rule my sandbox.”
GS: “I OWN your playground. Code that, nerdgirl!”
MS: “I have 95% market share!”
GS:”I’m sorry, I can’t hear you. I’m listening to my iPod.”
This witty banter is only as good as the actors supplying it, and they are excellent, indeed. There are six leads. Hope Carlson (NF) plays Anita Richman, hard-headed, calculating, sarcastic, and ambitious. Hope is a classically trained opera singer, and the rest of the cast raves about her singing ability. Greg Lau (NJ) plays Justin Thyme (nice TOM take-off), a well-meaning but na‹ve guy from a small town who is still coming to terms with all that HBS has to throw at him. He is joined by Christian Charnaux (NC), who as Chris Matic, is suave, charming, and confident but tends to get the wrong end of the stick. Mike Lester (NG) is HBS’s own Carl Kester (hey, that rhymes), portrayed here as the long-suffering second fiddle to the dean.
And then there is Carolyn Roth (NF). Having broken her leg on the Tremblant ski trip, Carolyn has gamely decided to stick with the HBS Show. As Christian noted, “Carolyn, with her crippled leg, has crippled our hearts.” Her fine acting will likewise cripple audiences. Carolyn plays completely to type as a brilliant student who takes life and HBS very seriously indeed. Anyone who knows Carolyn knows that she was born to play this role.
The last lead, Anthony Trani (NI), fills the big shoes of Kim Clark, described here as the “star-struck dean of HBS.” Anthony is taking his starring role quite seriously. He has concerns about paparazzi and potential stalkers. Like any good Hollywood star, he has his battles with the associate director, saying, “Greg is completely demanding and overbearing. It causes me to spend a lot of time in my trailer. You should go through my agent from now on.”
In response, Greg Marsh, exclaimed, “I’d like to say it’s been a pleasure to work with such a multi-talented and brilliant cast….I’d like to say that, but I cannot….I’ve never worked with such a bunch of idiots in my life. I quit. I quit! That’ll make the bastards weep. Do you reckon?”
Of course, he was back on set minutes later. But he still proves that all those involved in the HBS Show have gone Hollywood! And Hollywood-quality the “Wizard of Hawes” is.
Run, do not walk, to get your tickets right now. You will not be disappointed!