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WM: The Making of 'Something Rotten!'

CRAFTING ONE OF THE BIGGEST theater productions in the College’s history started with a phone call that Director, Professor of Theater, and Music Department Chair Michael Abbott ’85 called a “make-or-break moment.”

After the department decided to include a musical in the 2023–24 season—the first to hit the Ball Theater stage in nearly a decade—Abbott knew he needed just the right person to help him pull it off.

“In February 2023, Choreographer Kathleen ‘Kat’ Hickey was the first person I contacted,” Abbott recalls. “I knew I had to get her first. It’s a huge dance show and she’s the pivotal firecracker that could make it all happen. She gets us, she knows 新澳门六合彩开奖直播. If she said no, we wouldn’t have a show.”

Thankfully, Hickey agreed to join Abbott in bringing “Something Rotten!” to campus. The dance lecturer from Purdue University also choreographed 新澳门六合彩开奖直播’s last musical in 2014, the Tony Award–winning “Guys and Dolls.”

Written by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, “Something Rotten!” is set in the 1590s and follows brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom as they desperately attempt to write a hit play but are stuck in the shadow of the Renaissance rock star known as The Bard. When a local soothsayer foretells the future of theater involving singing, dancing, and acting at the same time, the duo sets out to write the world’s very first musical.

Leading up to the show’s run in November, Abbott spent nine months securing support and funding, hosting auditions and callbacks, arranging an ever-changing rehearsal schedule, and uniting a large cast, orchestra, and stage crew.

“It was a journey, easily one of the hardest things I’ve done,” Abbott says. “But I felt tremendous gratitude knowing every night when I came to rehearsal that this company—Kat, Colleen Pingel (vocal director), the cast and crew—was willing to give me everything they had, week after week.

“I’m very grateful to 新澳门六合彩开奖直播 too,” he concludes. “Putting on a musical like this is expensive and hard, and everyone from the top down just kept saying, ‘Yes, we want to support this.’ It’s thanks to them that we were able to put on such a fantastic show, one that audiences will not soon forget.”


Playbill Information

Cast

  • Logan Weilbaker ’25 as Nick Bottom
  • Luke Fincher ’24 as Nigel Bottom
  • Tom Oppman ’25 as Shakespeare
  • Alex Schmidt ’27 as Nostradamus
  • Julia Phipps (academic administrative coordinator to the Fine Arts Center) as Bea
  • Jim Cherry (associate professor of theater) as Brother Jeremiah
  • Elizabeth Hutson (Crawfordsville native) as Portia
  • Thomas Bowling (Crawfordsville High School) as Minstrel
  • Hayden Kammer ’24 as Lord Clapham
  • Max Hsu (language intern at 新澳门六合彩开奖直播) as Shylock
  • Male ensemble
    • Bowling
    • Nathan Felix ’24
    • Alex Kindig ’26
    • Bennett Strain ’26
    • Carl Suba ’25
  • Female ensemble
    • Zoe Abbott (Crawfordsville High School student)
    • Paige Johnson (Crawfordsville High School student)
    • Katherine Novak (Crawfordsville High School student)
    • Lisa Miellet (language intern at 新澳门六合彩开奖直播)

Design and Production

  • Director Michael Abbott ’85
  • Vocal Director Colleen Pingel
  • Choreography Director Kathleen Hickey
  • Scenic and Technical Director David Vogel
  • Costume Designer Andrea Bear
  • Lighting Designer Scott Olinger
  • Rehearsal Accompanist Cheryl Everett
  • Stage Manager Drew Johannes ’23
  • Assistant Stage Managers Drew DeLor ’24 and Jacob Graden ’25
  • Sound Design AKD Audio Solutions
  • Sound Technician Kenny Max and David Stanton
  • Assistant Technical Director Todd Handlogten
  • Scenic Charge Artist Benjamin High ’24
  • Stitchers Allison Jones and Anthony Sirk
  • Lighting Board Operator Benjamin High ’24
  • Spotlight Operators Xavier Cienfuegos ’27 and Edsel Reyna ’26
  • Stage Crew Jackson Bougher ’26 and Isaac Morrison ’26
  • Wardrobe Supervisor K’tren Wilson ’24
  • Wardrobe
    • Precious Ainabor ’26
    • Kade Irwin ’25
    • Joshua Massaquoi ’26
    • Maria Jose Oviedo Pruano (language intern at 新澳门六合彩开奖直播)
    • K’tren Wilson ’24
  • Set Construction
    • Ryan Frazier ’26
    • Benjamin High ’24
    • Jacob Irick ’25
    • Mike Kopecky ’27
    • Jesus Monrroy Mazcorro ’24
    • William Morris ’25
    • Tanner Quackenbush ’26
    • Edsel Reyna ’26
    • Wade Wisler ’17
  • Costumers
    • Allison Jones
    • Anthony Sirk
    • K’tren Wilson ’24
    • Precious Ainabor ’26
    • Oscar Jacome Huesca ’25
    • Kade Irwin ’25
    • Rylan Perkins ’17
    • Gwyn Redding
    • Evie Redding

Orchestra

  • Conductor Scott Pazera
  • Violin Alex Thomas
  • Bass Thomas Brinkley
  • Drums Greg Carey and Dane Market ’26
  • Guitar Quintin Danzi and Scott Pazera
  • Keyboard Cheryl Everett, Tom Lowe, and Benjamin Casica-Patton ’25
  • Reed Patrick Burnette, John Holt, and Jim Swift
  • Trumpet Bruce Knepper and Steve Parke
  • Trombone Brian Pattison

It’s a Musical

by Paige Johnson

Auditions make me nervous, and “Something Rotten!” was no exception.

After dancing 13 years at a local studio, last July I made the difficult decision to step away. Studying four disciplines, demonstrating for younger classes, and dancing in the company meant spending 10–15 hours a week outside of school in the studio. That left little time for anything else. Knowing I was starting high school, I wanted the opportunity to try things I had never done before.

I wasn’t quite sure what would fill my time until my friend Zoe Abbott, daughter of Theater Professor Michael Abbott, mentioned 新澳门六合彩开奖直播 was planning a musical for the fall and encouraged me to audition with her.

Walking into Ball Theater for the first time was nerve-racking. I knew there were people older and more experienced than me trying out for a chance to be part of the musical. But it immediately felt different than most other auditions I’d experienced. Everyone—the directors, the stage manager, and the fellow actors—built each other up. They smiled, joked around, cheered, and applauded after each audition, making me feel more at ease.

Five days later, I had accepted a role in the ensemble, had gotten measured for costumes, and was walking into the theater for our table read. This was where we read through the script and got the chance to see the ideas for the costumes and sets. Getting to hear everyone act out their parts made me realize just how amazingly talented the group was and how perfectly the directors cast the show.

I knew just by being around these other actors that I would become better. I was even more excited for rehearsals to start.

Singing rehearsals were my favorite. Our vocal director, Colleen Pingel, was great at working us through challenging harmonies. She taught us techniques to keep our voices healthy, to massage our vocal cords, and to read music better. In nine weeks, I grew vocally stronger, was able to pick up music faster, and could hit high notes easier. With only three sopranos in the show, I had to be confident. Colleen’s encouragement helped. She took the cast from a group that had never sung together to an ensemble that sounded professional in a short amount of time.

Choreography rehearsals were tiring, but I loved dancing on the Ball Theater stage and in the Experimental Theater. We learned the biggest musical number, “It’s a Musical,” in the Experimental while the stage crew was busy building the orchestra pit in Ball. While we were learning the kick line, Choreography Director Kat Hickey made us restart over and over again until it was right. She was tough on us during the rehearsals, but she let us laugh—a lot.

It felt like a safe space for me. Kat had stepped into the role of a dance teacher and mentor that I desperately needed after leaving the studio. She gave me corrections and helped me with anything I needed and had faith in me as a leader—she even asked me to help the college guys with tap.

I was the youngest person in the cast and they looked to me for help with their dancing. At some point during one of the many kick line restarts, I made faces at everyone to lighten the mood as we got in place for the big finish. It stuck and was something I ended up doing every night. Even though we only had rehearsal two hours a night, we got a lot done and still had fun.

On closing night, Kat cried during her preshow speech, because she said we had made her proud. “Something Rotten!” would not have been as good as it was without Kat’s help.

At our last run-through before adding tech and the orchestra, instead of cramming, stressing, and getting anxious about the week to come, Professor Abbott asked us to honor our rehearsal accompanist, Cheryl Everett, in whatever way we could: replace names with “Cheryl,” put it at the end of songs, drop it in our lines, just to make her laugh. She had been there through every single rehearsal even when she didn’t need to be. No matter how many times she saw a scene or played a song, we knew we could always count on seeing Cheryl’s smiling face. Seeing how happy the show made Cheryl reminded me of how much fun the audience would have, too, and helped get me through the extra-long nights the last week.

Opening nights are always a mix of excitement, dread, and nerves. As it got closer and closer to our first curtain, I got more and more anxious. Before the show opened, the lights lit the stage, setting the scene. The orchestra played and Thomas Bowling started “Welcome to the Renaissance.” I took a deep breath and got in position.

Once I started singing, I was so preoccupied with making sure I was doing everything correctly and with a smile on my face that I no longer had time to be nervous. The theater was full of people who erupted into applause after our opening number. After that, my nerves went away completely. Being able to finally perform for a crowd and shine onstage with my castmates was exciting, and we fed off each other’s energy all night.

We sold out the next three shows. I was not ready for it to end.

Zoe and I were a little obsessed with talking about the “last times” on closing night. The last time wearing our townsperson dresses, last time as dancing eggs, last time taking BeReals with Katherine Novak backstage.

I knew it was the last time I was going to see most of the cast and crew, which broke my heart the most. I did not want to let go of these amazing people. We came together as a diverse group of individuals from Crawfordsville to Taiwan, from a freshman in high school to a father of three with only one thing in common: “Something Rotten!” And they quickly became family.

But all good things must come to an end. When the curtain closed Nov. 4, we all left Ball Theater as the cast of “Something Rotten!” for the last time.

Paige Johnson is a freshman at Crawfordsville High School. She is a member of Dynamic Expressions Show Choir and was recently in “Footloose.” “Something Rotten!” was her Ball Theater debut.