Taking the stage in “35mm: A Musical Exhibition,” students in the Weber State University theater program will delve into the grit of the human condition.
The multimedia musical by Ryan Scott Oliver is a contemporary take on the adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Oliver collaborated with photographer Matthew Murphy to set music to a series of photographs that capture the many triumphs and pitfalls of the human experience. Just as film develops, so does life, and that is the concept this musical seeks to portray.
“This show touches a lot on perspective. Perspective is really important in photography, and, therefore, through images and music, we really want the audience to have an open perspective of life in regard to anything, such as in relationships, even nature. I think audiences will definitely feel something in this show,” said Colton Hattabaugh, a member of the cast and a WSU senior.
By building the musical around photographs that depict a common thread of human experiences, the cast and director insist that “35mm” will be a show that attendees aren’t likely to forget.
“Every song has a deep, deep meaning, and that’s what I love about it. It matters. It’s about stuff that matters. It’s still fun, but it’s like … It makes you think without hitting you over the head with it,” said Director Mandie Wood Harris.
Although the show will spend a great deal of time addressing the deeper crevices of humanity, cast member Lara Vo notes that it strikes a balance between heavy and light material.
“We have some goofy songs, but we have a lot of very beautiful songs about loss and love and heartbreak. It’s just … It’s very, very human. I feel like a lot of lessons, or things that people will leave with, are just like the experience of humanity and being able to see how everyone can relate to, like, their first heartbreak or that one relationship that they held onto for a little bit too long or things like that,” Vo said.
Projections Designer Lydia Oliverson also emphasized the human element of “35mm.”
“I feel like it addresses a lot of things that are a little harder to face, things like rape and abuse and insanity and just the common breakup. I think there will be at least one song that everyone in the audience can relate to somehow. It’s a good way to remember that we’re all human and we all have these experiences together,” said Oliverson.
In addition to providing life insights, “35mm” has also given both cast and crew the opportunity to stretch and grow. Unlike most WSU theater program productions, “35mm” is completely run by students.
“It’s all student-produced … We’re doing this ourselves. So, this is the next step in our education, because we learn about this, but theater, you can’t go to class and go home and take a test. You have to learn theater. You have to do theater. So, this is the next step in our development. We do the shows with the faculty, we do this show and then we’ve learned enough that we can hopefully take it out and be completely on our own, and that’s probably the coolest thing about this show,” said Harris.
Hattabaugh and Vo also mentioned the tremendous growth they’ve experienced personally and vocally since beginning work on “35mm.”
“I’ve been involved a lot with musical theater, but I’ve never been in a show quite like this. It’s very unique because it’s a pop-rock kind of genre of music whereas I’ve been involved with more classical and golden-age type of musical theater, so it’s really fun to be in a contemporary show, where audiences can relate to the style,” Hattabaugh said.
“35mm: A Musical Exhibition” will show Feb. 1-6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Eccles Theater, located inside the Browning Center at WSU.