THE MUSICAL HAPPENED.
So, first and foremost, I’d like to thank you, my predominantly imagined Internet readership (I know you’re there, prospective students), for patiently suffering through the obnoxious musical theatre love I force into every blog post and at least skimming each cheerfully-blatant Carousel plug. It’s meant a lot.
But I’m afraid that today marks the end of an era. (Please excuse the residual dramatic flair that’s still coursing through my veins.) Mere seconds after the figurative curtain fell this past Sunday, I watched (lol power tools) as the Carousel set was swiftly dismantled, until Swirnow looked about as empty and forlorn as a beautiful black box theater could be. And, for a brief moment, I felt a bit of relief. Carousel was time-consuming. I was excited to get some of my life back, you know, the time I typically devote to doing real-life school things. I did all the assigned reading last week, and, let me tell you, it was weirdly glorious.
Once I’d caught up on my sleep, however, the relief was replaced by a dull, achy kind of withdrawal that only happens when something really magical is over. I mean, how else am I supposed to feel when the thing that I had been looking forward to all year, the thing that exceeded every possible expectation, just came to an end in the matter of two weekends? And all I have to show for those six perfect shows, and the weeks we spent making Carousel fan-freaking-tastic, are some dying flowers in my room and a whole lot of premature nostalgia. (But actually, I’ve been going through Facebook photos and eating chocolate like I’m in the throes of a tragic breakup. It’s getting out of hand. Send help.)
As I’ve said a dozen times before, I’ve always wanted to be a Barnstormer. They were on my radar since before day one, thanks to a helpful “Hopkins + musical” Google search. When I decided that I officially wasn’t going to pursue musical theatre in college, I also promised myself that I’d never totally abandon it either. So I placed a lot of stock in that musical. If I was only going to be doing one a year, I wanted it to be incredible. Which explains why I was fairly incapable of digesting food for the duration of the week leading up to auditions. When I got the call that I’d be playing Carrie, I was speechless. Not only was a director who I’d never worked with before blindly putting his faith in me, a lowly freshman, but I was also entering a group of performers who I already knew were extremely talented. I was prepared to be anxious, awkward, and intimidated. I counted on it, in fact.
Welp, I feel like these posts are always centered around me being really wrong about, well, everything. What does that say about me as a person.
The Barnstormers were delightful. Supremely, unfailingly delightful. The kind of delightful you hope for when you walk into a new environment that you really, really, really want to like. They were just as talented and professional as expected, but also so warm and welcoming. The upperclassmen were quick to help my silly untested self (thanks for showing me how to get backstage, you guys), and I was blown away by the supportive vibes that always seemed to be flowing. When I was finally able to let go of my unfounded need to prove myself, it became more fun and rewarding than I ever could have imagined. We transitioned from cast to family in a matter of months. If you aren’t “aww”-ing out loud by now, you should be.
So I’m writing this for two main reasons. Firstly, I really miss the musical and am shamelessly seizing the opportunity to gush about how wonderful it was. But, most importantly, I realized while brainstorming that if I could share any one detail about Hopkins with a prospective student, it would be that the performing arts are unbelievably strong here. Sometimes it’s hard for them to get their due when our academics can more than stand on their own and the lacrosse team keeps slaughtering everything in its path (sorry, UMD), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t super legitimate. Our a cappella groups are ICCA regulars, and our gospel choir brings down the house. The dance teams/groups/companies are not only universally breathtaking, but also cater to every style I can think of and then some. And if you’re in the mood for a laugh or a million, Throat Culture, our sketch comedy group, and the Buttered Niblets, our improv team, are more than willing to oblige. So we’ve got a whole lot to offer to all those tap-dancers-since-the-age-of-three and closeted Beyoncés. Also, Peabody is here. So. Yeah. Go on over there, and sing your faces off.
I’ll confess I’m partial to the Barnstormers. Can you blame me? I’m a theatre freak, so that kind of automatically makes them my people. But there is a niche to be found for every JHU artist, which I think is a perfect reflection of the passion and creativity of our student body. So come in with your eyes and mind wide open. Watch performances; attend shows. You’ll probably see something you like.
Meanwhile, I’ll just be here, humming “This Was A Real Nice Clambake” and counting down the days until I get to storm the barn again.