Carrying on their trademark flair for quirky comedy, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals (HPT) has launched the script of its 158th production—a play in which prewar tensions and Soviet shenanigans meet up with pirates, movie stars, and a great white shark.
The musical, called HPT 158 until it is officially titled, is the result of a collaboration between Sam Gale Rosen ’06 and Joshua M. Brener ’07. Both veteran HPT performers, whose theatrical resumes collectively include HPT 156 “As The World Turns” and last year’s “Terms of Frontierment,” the new playwrights are no strangers to HTP style. In their new production, Gale Rosen, a history and literature concentrator, and Brener, an English concentrator, pair up history and hilarity.
“We chose Sam and Josh’s script because it provided the basis for a supremely satisfying bit of musical theater,” said HPT President John P. Blickstead ’06. “The dialogue is hilarious, the characters are outrageous, the lyrics are witty. It’s just a great script. Josh and Sam are also both very handsome, and that’s important to me.” Blickstead also co-authored “Terms of Frontierment.”
“Our script is definitely in some ways a very traditional Pudding script, with a lot of the same humor. But I think that we brought our own individual sense of humor and made a product that combined all the things that are already great about the Pudding and what we could bring to the table,” said Gale Rosen.
Set in the 1930s, the adventure begins on one-eyed pirate Barry D’treasure’s cruise liner. With characters like “world-reknowned guru” Eve Angelicist, vocal charmer Sam N. Chantedevening, and sultry oceanographer Amelie Talbitmost strutting the decks, Barry’s ship is a veritable red carpet floating in the Atlantic.
The dirt and mystery start with Miss Dee Meaner, a spoiled has-been child star who will stoop to anything to get back into the limelight. Cookies go missing; Miss Dee starts hanging out with Indy Sykes, a suspicious dictator-look-alike; the ship gets hijacked—possibly by a great white shark—and a Private Eye gets on the job to discover what all the chaos is about.
“I’m ecstatic about the cruise ship setting. It’s just perfect for parody. You have the opportunity to get a lot of diverse characters together and put them in bizarre situations. Like people eating tomato soup—with forks. Is that even legal?” said Blickstead.
While the HPT’s traditional wit and whimsy remains unchanged, there will be noticeable differences in this year’s production—the foremost change being the stage.
Renovations on the old theater on 12 Holyoke Street, which has been the home of Pudding productions since 1888, began earlier this year. Since the renovation process will last through 2007, the HPT has relocated its productions for the time being to the Zero Arrow Street Theater.
Moving out of the old theater means more than simply losing a building, HPT members say.
“The Holyoke Street theater is since 1888—that’s how important [it is] and how emotionally tied the Theatricals is,” said Romina Garber, publicist and former producer for the HPT, who is also a Crimson editor. “This is the first time that we have had to make such a permanent move.”
Going beyond a tug on the heartstrings, the change of theaters is also a break of hoary habit. There will be a new environment for the stage managers, technicians, producers, and actors to adapt to.
But the HPT’s leaders say they are prepared for the adjustment. Each year, HPT hires 10 to 12 professionals to train its members. Together, the professionals and students ensure a smooth production, according to Garber.
“[The professionals and executive committee are] figuring out how it will work out this year,” Garber said. “There will be, definitely, changes. They had an eye for flexibility—whatever the show was, it wasn’t going to be something that you couldn’t move around and try things out with. I think that’s one of the main advantages of this year’s script, that it’s flexible.”
The bottom line for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals? That the show will go on. As usual, after its February showings in Cambridge, it will go on to New York and Bermuda in late March.
“The Pudding’s tradition is paramount, but the organization has succeeded through its ability to seize new opportunities. That’s true of our Man and Woman of the Year ceremonies, our new theater—pretty much everything we do,” said Blickstead.