QU Theater brings a bit of Broadway to campus

Janine Elliot

With Broadway hours away, there is little opportunity for students at Quinnipiac to enjoy musicals, but that is all about to change. Combinations of music and dance movement as well as vibrant and intense scenes all blend together in a tribute to American pioneer women in the musical “Quilters,” written by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek. The joys, horrors and challenges of frontier life are revealed through the lives of a pioneer woman and her six daughters. The story of these women highlights the trials and tribulations of coming of age on the American Frontier. The show emphasizes how strong and loving women can be, as well as how much they can overcome, all the while dealing with illness, death and the harshness of frontier life. “Quilters” also provides lively humor as well as tenderness and warmth through music and drama as the characters try to overcome the misfortunes of frontier life.

The musical was originally developed and produced at the Denver Center Theatre company, but this spring students at Quinnipiac can look forward to enjoying what the New York Post believes to be, “a show pieced together with love and stitched with pride.a thing of beauty, comfort and joy.” The theater program at Quinnipiac, which typically performs comedies and dramas, will be presenting their first musical in over a year called “Quilters.”

“Quilters” will be directed by Keely Baisden and performed next semester. “Artistically, I chose this musical because it speaks to me on many levels – not only as an actress, singer, dancer and puppeteer (and this musical incorporates all of these facets of performance), but it also speaks to me in its dramatic form,” Baisden said.

Baisden said she naturally gravitates toward musicals as a performer. Baisden’s wide-ranging background in musical theater as well as being provided the opportunity to teach a musical theatre performance class in the fall of 2005 caused her to gain interest in directing a musical here at Quinnipiac.

Dr. Crystal Brian, chair of the drama department, asked that Baisden direct the spring musical. Brian said that she believes a large-scale Broadway-type musical could one day be performed at the university, but for now “Quilters” calls for an intimate setting as it will be presented in the Black Box Theatre. Baisden says she chose “Quilters” rather than a grand-scale musical based on logistics as the small theatre offers a very personal atmosphere for the audience.

The audience can look forward to watching the pieces of this musical gradually fall into place. According to Dramatists.com. as the show progresses the “various patches are assembled into one glorious, brilliantly colorful quilt,” causing the audience to leave the theater with breathtaking memories which will last long after the curtain closes. Brian expects to have the Quinnipiac theater program present one musical each year and hopes in the future to add theater for young audience productions that would most likely also be musicals.

The auditions will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. Students will be asked to read parts of the script and sing a song, any style, a capella. The auditions are open school-wide and may include undergraduate, graduate, part-time as well as non-traditional students.