The musical “Show Boat” is making its debut at UK on March 2 at the Singletary Center for the Arts.
According to UKNow, “Show Boat” is a romantic musical that follows three generations of people on a show boat through 40 critical years of American history. Originally premiering in 1927, it was the first musical written in the U.S. that dealt with more serious matters like racial relationships and segregation. Audiences can expect a dynamic and revolutionary musical that involves political and racial issues, some of which are still prominent today.
Director Michael Ehrman began reviewing the musical six months ago, studying the show’s history, the words and music, as well as making decisions on how the set will work and look.
The show features 12 main characters with a cast of more than 50 people. Auditions began the first week of September when people brought their own music and dialogue. To keep the show authentic to its origins, the performers were chosen based on which personalities and voices best fit each character.
Since auditions, the full cast practices two nights a week, with rehearsals on other nights set specifically for certain roles. For the past four weeks, the cast has been rehearsing despite having fluctuating schedules with school and other responsibilities. As a director with a multitude of career experience outside of UK, Ehrman described the difficulties of transitioning from a professional setting to working with students.
“It’s not like in a professional company when you do a show where people can rehearse eight hours a day,” Ehrman said. “Here, you have only a couple hours a day and not everybody all the time, so the challenge has been putting the different elements of the show all together.”
The cast and director also face the challenge of not having a curtain at the Singletary Center, which was built primarily for concerts. With 17 scenes, moving props, scenery and furniture can be difficult without being able to hide the process from the audience. Since they cannot set up a scene behind a curtain before it flies open, set preparations began early.
Besides the focal points of love and racial prejudice, there are also many theatrical elements the audience will encounter at the performance.
“The audience will take away some of the most glorious music ever written for the theater. There are beautiful, classic songs from Show Boat,” said Michael Ehrman, the show’s director. “They will hear some beautiful music, they will see some entertaining dance numbers and there’s a certain amount of pageantry when you have 50 people on stage wearing costumes that start in 1890 and that go all the way to 1927, so visually it will be entertaining.”
“Show Boat” will be held in the Singletary Center for the Arts from March 2 to 4. The opening show begins at 7:30 p.m. on March 2. There are shows at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on March 3 and 4. Tickets are available on the Singletary Center for the Arts website, priced at $13 for students, $45 for adults and $40 for seniors.