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SPIN starts the theatre year with “New Beginnings”

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Brooke Prohaska (‘21) and Zane Larson (‘19) perform “First Date/Last Night” from the musical “Dogfight” during the cabaret.

Brooke Prohaska (‘21) and Zane Larson (‘19) perform “First Date/Last Night” from the musical “Dogfight” during the cabaret.

Kien Dao (‘20) | PhotoBureau

Kien Dao (‘20) | PhotoBureau

Brooke Prohaska (‘21) and Zane Larson (‘19) perform “First Date/Last Night” from the musical “Dogfight” during the cabaret.

Elizabeth Hand, Staff Writer

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Luther’s SPIN Theatre Company presented “New Beginnings: A Musical Theatre Cabaret” on Friday, Sept. 22. Around 140 people attended the event as well as one theatre-loving wasp.

The student-led company began their year under the co-direction of Laila Sahir (‘18), a first-time  cabaret director. In the cabaret, participants performed a mix of solos and duets from a collection of Broadway shows. From the streets of New York in “Dogfight” to the African Savanna of “The Lion King,” performers earned abundant applause from the audience for their ability to transform Storre Theatre into their show’s respective setting.

The cabaret opened with “Watch What Happens” from “Newsies” sung by Emma Deihl (‘18), who was unfazed during her performance when a wasp landed on her halfway through her piece and stayed until stage manager Megan Gaffney (‘18)  swept it away.

Other acts in the cabaret included “First Date/Last Night” from “Dogfight” sung by Brooke Prohaska (‘21) and Zane Larson (‘19), “Stars and the Moon” from “Songs for a New World” sung by Amy Pham (‘18), and “Home” from “Beauty and the Beast” sung by Gabby Laske (‘18). The cabaret closed with a performance of “Hakuna Matata” from “The Lion King” performed by Emma Withers (‘18) and Inga Aleckson (‘18), which was the only piece of the night performed a cappella.

According to Sahir, the purpose of this cabaret was to show incoming students what the visual and performing arts department offers.

“A lot of times [first-years] are not sure in what ways they can be involved in theatre on campus,” Sahir said. “So we like to be one of the resources for them to have something that is a low time commitment, different performance opportunity, or other way to get involved like designing and directing for other events. We like to be a resource for them to try things out.”

SPIN is a place for students to figure out what aspects of theatre best suit them. For Mikaela Hanrahan (‘21), SPIN was something she looked forward to when coming to Luther. Hanrahan made her Luther theatre debut with the song “I Can Do Better Than That” from “The Last Five Years” during the cabaret.

“The energetic atmosphere of students already involved in theatre at Luther made me feel right at home,” Hanrahan said. “I have always loved theatre, and it was exciting getting to perform so early in the year.”

Auditions for the cabaret took place on Sept. 4 and 7. Prior to auditions, the theme was up in the air because Sahir wanted to see what naturally formed through the audition process.

The directors held auditions to see what songs people brought to the table and encouraged them to prepare a song that they would like to sing in the cabaret. According to Sahir, the audition pieces lent themselves to a theme of “new beginnings”.

The cabaret featured 14 different solos and duets. Thirteen of these performances were in collaboration with student accompanists CJ Heck (‘19) and Bethany Larson (‘19). Performers had the option to stage each piece similarly to the musical that their selection was from, but also were encouraged to take their own interpretation of the lyrics.

SPIN Theatre co-directors  Sahir and Karl Nycklemoe (‘18) were strategic in staging each individual song. The performers were limited to a hand prop, two black boxes for seating, and a costume. Some managed to clearly convey their story with just one of the three. By using low profile props each performer should shine.

“All of those things [like lighting and design] are exciting and nice, but it is also really exciting to just focus on what is happening,” Sahir said. “[We wanted to] show the performers and make it just about them.”

The next SPIN event will be the annual haunted house, which will take place on Oct. 27 and 28. They are also looking for directors for the One Act Festival and the mid-winter play. According to Sahir, they are open to student suggestions for other events.

“We really strive to be an organization and a community that provides opportunities that students feel like they aren’t getting other places,” Sahir said. “We are always willing to hear what students want to bring to the table because that ultimately is what creates the best art.”

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