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Dessert Theater Launches Performing Arts Season

October 31, 2018 by Elaine Rottman

Dessert Theater photo by Colby Collier (Class of 2019)

The musical revue “A Night at the Movies,” held October 19, was the first Providence performing arts event under the direction of Matthew Roy. The Laudate Choir (3rd through 6th graders), Middle School Chorus, and High School Chorale—almost 75 students—presented an evening of choreographed group choruses, ensemble pieces, and solo numbers. For this year’s theme, they performed songs out of the eclectic variety of cinematic music: from Disney favorites and an all-female rendition of  “Mamma Mia!” to ballads from The Greatest Showman and a barbershop quartet singing Billy Joel. An a cappella rendition of “Misty Mountains” from the movie The Hobbit by the high school men received an audible “Wow!” from the audience.

The large group numbers were the culmination of many hours of dedicated rehearsal time to memorize both music and choreography. The Laudate Choir sang a medley of Pixar songs, including “Touch the Sky” from the movie Brave which was particularly energetic, especially following the sedate poignancy of “Remember Me” from the movie Coco, with Aaron White playing a “sad guitar.” The Middle School Chorus sang choral highlights from the movie Annie and seemed to take seriously the disgruntled tone of “It’s a Hard Knock Life;” bravo to Jane Krautmann for her short solo on “Maybe.” The High School Chorale did a medley from the musical Godspell, featuring a variety of soloists, a Sermon on the Mount rap, and lots of disco moves in the final number “Light of the World.” 

Finally, a Dessert Theater first was the Pirates of the Caribbean medley, an instrumental piece consisting of piano, guitar, cello, double bass, and hurdy-gurdy—a medieval instrument that sounds like a cross between a violin and a bagpipe, played by Mr. Roy. (For more information on this unusual instrument, see Mr. Roy’s personal blog: matthewjroy.com.)

The new director stated: “I am so very pleased with Dessert Theater this year! I am proud of the way that it showcased the hard work, enthusiasm, and imagination of the students. There is so much happening in a complex concert like this, and whether things went perfectly to plan or there were moments of improvisation, I applaud the way in which they pursued musical and theatrical excellence to the glory of God!

“When I first began at Providence, I committed to making the performing arts program into something holistic and dynamic,” he said. “I wanted to know what students could do and what they were interested in, and to try to find ways to cultivate those talents and desires through practice and performance.” He cites the Pirates of the Caribbean medley as a product of this commitment. “Not only did it tap into the instrumental skills of current choir members s such as Blake LaBrie on cello and Jordan Short on guitar, but through it I found out that we have a double bass player on campus, our own Davis Peterson.” 

Frankie Harman, a junior, took on the task of choreographing the show, impressing the new performing arts director. “As a skilled dancer herself—her solo dance during “On the Willows” was gorgeous—Frankie worked hard to communicate with and organize large groups of students with great results,” Mr. Roy said. “Additionally, I’m so pleased that lower school music teacher Sarah Eglin put together choreography for the Laudate choir, some of it based on Frankie’s written instructions and others her original ideas—gotta love a good kick line!” Mr. Roy also expressed appreciation for Donna Venzor and all the parent volunteers who worked behind the scenes to make the night a success.

In a dramatic moment at the end of the evening, Mr. Roy announced the spring musical:  Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Auditions will be held in January for what promises to be another exciting show. In the meantime, students are preparing a repertoire of Advent and Christmas music for concerts in December.

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