April 6th, 7th, & 8th, 2017 – Penn State Harrisburg’s Spring Production
Life outside your apartment is Only For Now, and anyone who missed Penn State Harrisburg’s prestigious performance of Broadway’s Avenue Q will admit their regrets after hearing the hype resonating from this inaugural musical on the brand new stage in the Student Enrichment Center (SEC) building. Cosmically all witnessing hearts were transformed, regardless of age or cultural diversity. The kids on Q-Street were valiant victors, conquistadoring hot-topics like phenomenology, politics, racism, mmj, lgbtqa+, and education in America. The setting being present day in an ‘outer-outer’ borough of New York City, our musical mixperience took place under the direction and design of eagerly enthusiastic students, staff, and faculty! The show was directed by Maria Enriquez (MFA), music by Adam Gustafson (PhD), and scenic/technical design by Matthew Mitra (MFA). The cast and crew was composed of both graduate and undergraduate students with majors ranging from engineering or biology to interdisciplinary humanities! Truly carnivál was resurrected through the collective unconscious underlining the ancient comedic sponge that is rung out in Marx and Lopez’s lovely libretto.
Mercurially charged audiences were intrigued by the information table each night, illuminating the presence of the Penn State Purple Hand Society (Capital Campus LGBTQA+ Organization/Club). The PHS info table was run by Rachael, PHS-social media manager. Following opening night’s performance on 6 April, a talk-back was held onstage with featured guest faculty, the directors, designers, production team and cast, and several Purple Hand Society members. The deconstructionally discoursed discussion, garnered an alchemical response among the intimately attuned audience members, that resonated reverently with all who witnessed the ethically reverberating, reactions and responses at the talk-back.
Total performances produced were four, covering one weekend-long Capital Campus 50th Anniversary event. On Wednesday the 5th, distinguished press and upper level English and Humanities courses were invited to a closed preview, followed by a terrific Thursday opening night with talk-back. Friday’s performance blew the eyeballs of its viewers right out of their sockets like a post-surrealist film or painting! Sending Saturday, an aesthetically appealing and wholehearted, energetically enthusiastic performance was perfectly produced.
After receiving a standing ovation, a special reprise of Princeton’s opening, “B.A. in English” was performed by the cast; re-written to reflect Humanities graduate student-actor Josh Gerstenlauer’s ‘Life as Brian’ in his [SUCCESSFUL, On Stage] marriage proposal to his girlfriend of five plus years, Ashley K. Foy.
Following the spectacular, spectacular production of Avenue Q, the inaugural musical in the new SEC Theatre space, one must conclude that Penn State Harrisburg’s School of Humanities has a whole ‘lotta talent, production team, and creative artistry up its sleeves, serving soul-magic to the Middletown and Greater Harrisburg areas for many years to come! Continuing with the legacy that began with our Fall 2016 production of David Auburn’s straight play, Proof, the PSH School of Humanities NEW Theatre Program will continue with their Fall play and Spring musical structure in October presenting, She Kills Monsters directed by Maria Enriquez. Coming next Spring, Penn State Harrisburg’s SEC Stage will welcome the rock musical, Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson so keep your ‘doors of perception’ peeled for auditions TBA. Many thanks to family, friends, and community support that helps continue educational productions, projects, and performances like this smashingly smart tribute to human rights, childhood reverie, and Sesame Street. Without love and support, ethical education and humanities would not take place. Just remember that whether you are a puppet, monster, human, imaginary, real, unreal, invisible, visible: “Let life roll off your backs; except for death and paying taxes, everything in LIFE IS ONLY FOR NOW”!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU TO ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!
Josh Gerst is a student in Penn State Harrisburg's Masters Program. He is a painter and published poet/photographer, featured in From the Fallout Shelter and The Paragon Journal.