By Katherine Carpenter
With the sudden departure of former Professor of Music Dr. Mel Wilhoit at the beginning of the semester, the music department was left a little short-handed. But perhaps what we didn’t count on was the loss of the theater department’s big spring musical, “The Sound of Music.”
While Wilhoit’s absence accounts for most of the decision to cancel the play, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Bernie Belisle said there were other factors; early this past December, Belisle underwent an emergency triple bypass surgery.
According to Belisle, “The Sound of Music” is a fairly labor-intensive production, and with the recent graduation of theater major Matt Wade, a major contributor to stagecraft and scene creation, the physical production of the play would have been extremely taxing.
While the Bryan community will not be able to see “The Sound of Music,” they will have the chance to experience the theater department’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Belisle said that one benefit to choosing this play is the fact that it has been performed at Bryan before; though the last production was over a decade ago, a familiar script is much less daunting than a new one.
“I’m more psychologically prepared to do ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’” Belisle said. Although it is no stranger to Bryan’s stage, Belisle said that the production will be fresh and exciting, featuring new elements and special effects.
He added that another advantage to a smaller production is the reduction in cost: less set means less cost, making it easier to stay within budget.
Although Belisle admits “The Sound of Music” would have been the bigger seller, he said he believes “The Diary of Anne Frank” is no less valuable and is sure to draw an ample crowd.
While there is no cast right now, Belisle confirmed that the cast and set will be small. He said he has a rehearsal schedule already drawn up, and students will be able to audition on Feb. 4.
According to senior theater major Jessica Baskin, the loss of “The Sound of Music” is disappointing, but the prospect of “The Diary of Anne Frank” is exciting. While she was looking forward to being in her first Bryan-produced musical, Baskin said that producing “The Diary of Anne Frank” is just “replacing one good experience with another.”
The new production will also be performed as a matinee for local schools. Baskin said that the subject matter will be good for the audience to be exposed to. It would be a privilege, she said, to portray the hardship Anne Frank went through.
Viewers will have to wait until April 16 to see “The Diary of Anne Frank.” However, they will have the opportunity to see a student-led dessert theater production of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” the weekends of Feb. 13 and 18.