“Living in the present’s got us feeling gray; we’re dreaming of a yesterday,” sings a chorus in Renaissance-era costumes. The class of 2019’s take on the annual freshman musical, or “froshical,” will carry audiences far from the fast-paced, high-powered world of Harvard to the Kalamazoo County Renaissance Fair. The culmination of months of collaboration among the newest members of Harvard’s theater community, “All’s Fair! at the Kalamazoo County Renaissance Festival” will run from April 14 to 17 at the Agassiz Theater.
“Froshical is a totally organic process,” says producer Henry M.N. Brooks ’19; according to him, the “core team” of each year’s show—producer, director, lyricist, composer, and book writer—selects its successors through an application process. This year, the core team is Brooks, Mitch B. Polonsky ’19, Allison S. Chang ’19, Scott Roberts ’19, and Landy Erlick ’19, respectively.
“The concept came from the five of us sitting around a table, saying, ‘What do we want to write a musical about?’, and a Renaissance fair [is] a fun thing to explore,” Polonsky says. The plot that resulted from that exploration follows Rose (Sara Bobok ’19), an aspiring big-time actress who joins the acting troupe of the titular Renaissance festival, as she contends with the distance between her dreams of stardom and the realities of her situation.
“Historically, Froshical is known for [being] very campy,” Polonsky says. But although Brooks and Polonsky agree that “All’s Fair!” prioritizes comedy, the show also looks to highlight the weighty themes of Rose’s story. “I want people to be able to walk away and have a new lens for themselves to think about their own dreams and their own expectations and the compromises they’ve had to make in their own lives,” Polonsky says, “and I think [‘All’s Fair!’] provides a framework to do that.”
Bobok finds Rose to be an especially relatable character for Harvard students. “I think a lot of people come into Harvard with huge dreams, which is an incredible thing,” she says, “and realistically there are a lot of obstacles for their dreams. At some times, it may just seem so unrealistic that those are going to come true. And I think Rose knows that. However, she’s able to maintain this unbelievable optimism as she goes through the show, and she’s just cracking jokes and being her genuine self.”
Brooks hopes that audiences will find meaning not only in Rose’s story but also in the nature of the freshman musical itself. “Froshical is everywhere. Froshical is Harvard, in a neat way: There are so many people involved in this show, all the way from our lead actors to the person taking our publicity photos or the people painting our set, that everybody already knows somebody who’s in the freshman musical,” he says. “It’s everybody’s show.”
—Staff writer Trevor J. Levin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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