The Beat Goes On opened this weekend in the Lyceum Theater. The interactive musical takes the audience on a journey through the decades riding the wave of rock’n’roll. Last semester’s show was one of Vanguard’s highest grossing performances. If you haven’t already secured your tickets, you might want to online (vanguardtickets.com)!
Since it was the show’s second time around, Director Vanda Eggington was able to take it up a notch, since the department maintained most of cast and crew members from last fall’s showing. The result is a fluid performance, that plays with the 4th wall and exhibits numerous lightening-speed costume changes. For every person on stage there are three or more crew members backstage making sure everything runs smoothly. For one of Austin Nunn’s changes he has 5 people help him prep for his next scene, with one person specializing on his shoes, another for his hair, and so on.
Eggington focused on making this season’s show more conversational. “The lyrics tell a story” she says “they become [the actors’] dialogue.”
The show moves from decade to decade, song to song in this way; imparting roles to the actors on stage. Some songs are sung all the way through, while others are only soundbites. The songs become shorter as the show draws closer to 1999. In the height of the madness, beloved TV and movie stars are thrown into the mix including Darth Vader, Indiana Jones and Doc from “Back to the Future.”
Two narrators, played by Johanna Jacobsen and Tyler Thoreson, keep the show grounded. If I started to feel lost, I was relieved to hear an informative and humorous speech by the duo. In this way The Beat Goes On shines light on American history and culture. It tells the narrative of youth over the past 5 decades by sharing their music, punctuated by narration and elaborated by the cast’s large array of costumes.
The Beat Goes On tells a rebellious, funny, moving story in a clean format. Audiences won’t hear any heavy metal in the Lyceum Theater. In light of their audience, Eggington wanted to keep it “user friendly.” With a committed cast and crew, Eggington’s vision has been achieved.
In it’s own way, this season’s show tells Eggington’s story. She put in songs that remind her of her loved ones, including Susan Berkompas’ favorite song “Come Sail Away” by the Styx. Senior Drew Bradford sings it with brilliant exactitude.
With quirky personifications of old pop stars, some known by college-aged viewers and others only heard of through our parents, The Beat Goes On offers something for all of us to reminisce over. It imparts a bitter-sweet nostalgia, even for the decades I haven’t seen with my own eyes.