This past weekend, Brock Musical Theatre (BMT) performed six shows at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (FOPAC). The group, who has a ten-year history as a Brock club, delighted audiences with their incredibly polished and lively version of Green Day’s American Idiot.
The club is open for everyone to join, not just arts students, and boasts a number of successful sold-out shows during their run as a Brock club. Each year, a new creative team, cast and crew is hired as part of the lengthy process that putting on a show of this scale entails.
The director for this year’s show, Chanel Danbrook, highlighted that BMT functions as an outlet for Brock students to showcase their talents, meet new people and have fun, all while enjoying musical theatre.
Though the club has seen long-term success over the course of its existence, putting on a show of this magnitude and scale does not come easily.
“We started auditions in September and then began rehearsals in October – we got right into it,” said Danbrook. “The entire creative team – myself as the director, the choreographer, the musical director, the vocal director, my assistant director – all came together and made a schedule of everything that needed to get done. We tried to start off with the more heavy stuff to get the ball rolling. We have to plan the choreography, the music, the live music because we have a band and everything in between. We have a cast of 17 so we would split up rehearsal time and do little bits and pieces here and there, but then we finally brought it all together and here we are.”
The group’s collective hard work is evident in their performance on stage, as well as in the audience’s reactions. Audiences enjoyed the production, providing bouts of applause after each number, as well as laughs throughout. This only further motivated BMT’s performance, and it was clear that both the cast and audience energy were feeding into one another. This can further be attributed to the fact that BMT succeeded in selecting a musical that was guaranteed to garner attention and praise.
“We ended up wanting to do American Idiot just because we knew that a lot of people would recognize the music,” explained Danbrook. “A lot of people love Green Day, and love the album American Idiot so we had a feeling that it would be really relatable and people would be excited about it. It’s like having an actual rock concert on stage, which is something that will appeal to a lot of different people, especially different ages. Our generation grew up with this album, and there are people older than us who grew up with it, and people now that still listen to it and still know Green Day. We thought it would be something people would want to come see.”
Audiences flocked to the show in large numbers; BMT sold out five of their six shows, and the audiences were engaged and elated – the show I attended received a standing ovation. It was a joy to see a Brock club garner so much praise, attention and pride — both from the audience, and the cast and crew — filled the Robertson theatre at FOPAC.
Hosting their event at the newly opened FOPAC greatly impacted BMT’s success, both from the comfort of having such a large stage to work with, and from the audience’s they knew the location would garner.
“Now that FOPAC just opened and is brand new, people are talking about the location and raving about it, so we knew we needed to get the show in there because people are going to know about it,” explained Danbrook. “It’s new, it’s fresh, it’s right downtown with the new school, so we knew the word would get out. It was definitely something we needed to do.”
“We were excited about the stage and how huge it is,” she continued. “The actors were very excited to be able to work on the stage for the first time, because in many other productions we haven’t seen a stage of this size. There’s a lot more that we can do with it like having our live band up there with us, which is something we really wanted. Plus, it affords the actors a lot more space to use for movement and dancing.”
Overall, BMT achieved incredible success over this past weekend, with their efforts being recognized through the support of the large number of community members that went out to see the show. The sold out shows were not a surprise, considering the level of skill and talent that all members of BMT exhibited over the weekend. The performance was a true treat, and an extremely entertaining couple of hours.
“We’ve loved doing this, especially here at this theatre,” said Danbrook. “We feel very privileged. I’m so appreciative to everybody who has been a part of this, it’s definitely been a great way to end off my time here at Brock.”
Assistant Arts & Culture Editor