The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

‘Speed Dating Tonight!’ reimagines opera

Carley Nail

Hurry up and get dressed for a fun night of speed dating at the bar, where nerves will have you more buzzed than the alcohol. ULM’s School of Visual and Performing Arts performed its annual fall opera “Speed Dating Tonight!” from Nov. 2-5. 

“Speed Dating Tonight!” is a genre-crossing musical performance that focuses on a group of people attending a speed dating event at the local bar. Since each date lasts five minutes, the characters briefly sing about their life experiences and expectations. The audience learns more and more about the characters with every round of speed dating. 

 “It is a fast-moving melodrama which is all styles of music moving quickly through an evening that has momentum,” director Mark Clark said. “Each of the 10 cast members has their own story that is told through music in the ‘speed dating’ scenario.”

Clark has known the composer, Michael Ching, for many years. He and the opera’s musical director, Richard Seiler, collaborated with Ching to help make each song fit with the performer.

VAPA allowed the cast to pick which songs they wanted to perform. Working with every individual performer, Ching changed the key to each song to fit their range.  These changes determine if the song’s genre will be classical, jazz or another contemporary style.

“My favorite part about this production was being able to pick the songs we wanted to sing and build our characters how we wanted to,” sophomore vocal music education major Addison Mitchell says. “I chose those songs because I like a challenge, and I wanted to be able to try different things with different characters.”

Mitchell‘s main role was as the host and manager of the run-down Library Bar. 

She welcomed audience members and potential matchmakers to the opera. She stunned audiences with her performances of “Panic Attack/Leaving” and “Pat the Basoonist.” 

Senior music major Preston Anderson and freshman music major A’Marion Dimmer had a duet called “Fragile Heart/Waiting for Too Long” that beautifully showed off the differences in their voices. Dimmer has a deeper voice while Anderson has a higher tone that harmonizes perfectly together.

The cast also made sure to incorporate the pianist in the opera. Whether the bartender is offering him a drink or including him in a song, it was nice to see that kind of interaction.

Each performer played multiple characters in the opera, which can be seen by their various costume changes. The costumes helped represent the personality of the character and made it easy to differentiate between the characters each person played. 

Alissa Smith, a sophomore music major, played two characters, including an alien believer and an alumni pep band member. The alien believer wore a quirky outfit with bold colors and designs while the pep band member sported ULM merch.

VAPA set the opera at the Library Lounge, a closed bar that was located next to Waterfront Grill.

“I thought that it was really cool that the Library was an actual place near campus,” sophomore medical laboratory sciences major Claire Alford said. “That made it feel like I was a part of the show with how close it was.”

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