Shorter University’s “It’s the Talk of the Town” musical was fun, entertaining, and well executed. It seamlessly linked together mid-twentieth century musical talent Jerry Livingston and his timeless tunes with difficult choreography.
Is it too much to say that by attending I laughed, became sentimental, and felt a joy that I’ve never experienced from attending a live show before?
I say this because Jerry Livingston writes music with a hammer, and his catchy tunes hit the nail on the head. He achieves a coherence in his musical proliferation that most composers only dream about. To hear his music is to scratch multiple music and entertainment surfaces, and as soon as you hear his Looney Tunes Overture, Fuzzy Wuzzy, and the theme of Casper the Ghost to name a few you know what I’m talking about.
The musical’s co-creator and musical arrangement composer (also Shorter University’s Theater Specialist), Julie Bearden, has a knack for the piano, and an eye for hemming different pieces of great music together.
From the birth of this musical in New York City and its first showings at the Triad Theater on 72nd street and Broadway, later when it was produced at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City’s theatre district, and now down south at Shorter University Bearden shows audiences Livingston’s magic.
Portraying Livingston’s “magic”, is a hard nut and the dozen or so student-performers of the musical had to crack it. These students busted it to pieces and gave the audience a fine snack.
“All of our Fine Arts students are true triple threats. They can dance, sing, and act all at once.” said Bearden before the show. This soon became obvious. They also have something else, but I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it is the intimate black box type construction of the Callaway theatre in which the musical took place on Shorter’s campus.
One of the female students sung “A Little Bit Later On” and it felt like she was an arm’s length away, which caused me to get a serious case of the vapors. I couldn’t look her in the eye but I could tell she was singing straight through me. It takes inner strength to perform at the Callaway theatre. Human emotion is the medicine there and no audience member gets out of taking their recommended dose.
As mentioned earlier the musical was put together in New York. Bearden was given carte blanche to compose its melodies and 5 part harmonies. Later, at Shorter, Instructor of Dance Georgie Hall redid the musical’s choreography. This means that attendees of the local production not only got a chance to revisit Jerry Livingston’s memorable music but also engage in the local talent that put it all together.