Preparations underway for 76th Campus Lights

Lauren Kapfhammer, senior from Louisville, Ky., performs a song during practice. || Taylor McStoots/The News
Lauren Kapfhammer, senior from Louisville, Ky., performs a song during practice. || Taylor McStoots/The News

Lauren Kapfhammer, senior from Louisville, Ky., performs a song during practice. || Taylor McStoots/The News

Traditions at Murray State are what makes the University so unique. One of the longest-running traditions in the South will be cherished again with the music department’s 76th production of Campus Lights.

This year, the brothers of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and sisters of Sigma Alpha Iota will be producing “The Drowsy Chaperone” in Lovett Auditorium on Jan. 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. Kathie Reinhardt, senior from St. Louis, Mo., said an afternoon performance will be exhibited on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 3:30 p.m.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” has never been performed at Murray State, but she said it is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

“This is a new show for Campus Lights,” said Jamie Wilson, Chairman of the Campus Lights and senior from Paducah, Ky. “This show is hilarious and I know that our audience will love it.”

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is a musical comedy in which a man retells the story of his favorite musical. Within this man’s story, the other characters come to life on the stage as commentary by the character continues.

Some of the songs featured in the musical are “Overture,” “Fancy Dress,” “Show Off,” “Toledo Surprise,” “Message From A Nightingale” and “Love is Always Lovely in The End.”

The Campus Lights production always puts on a show, but it is unique because it has always been, and still is, produced and presented entirely by Murray State students. The students pick the musical, cast the actors, build the sets and promote their show without help from the faculty.

“Many consider Campus Lights a symbol of the memories and dreams of the original members of Greek music organizations,” said Ryan Knight, assistant chairman for Campus Lights and senior from Benton, Ill. “They built a tradition nearly from scratch using their own knowledge, skill sets and drive for success.”

Pulling the show together is a year-long process. After months of narrowing down the choices of musicals, three are presented to the members of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and Sigma Alpha Iota, where a majority vote determines the show they will perform for the community. Auditions are then held at the end of the fall semester.

“Shows are chosen through a rigorous, semester-long process,” Wilson said. “Campus Lights is a short time for most of the people involved, only the month of production. But for people like me who are leaders, we work on Campus Lights for a year, starting shortly after the show closes each January.”

There are more than 100 students involved in the production including cast, pit orchestra, tech crew, builders, painters, ushers, ticket sellers, Board of Producers and production staff.

After starting its humble roots in 1937 when the Men’s Music Club compiled their own varsity show entitled “Rhythms Talks of ‘37,” the club formed Campus Lights. Since then, the production has grown larger every year.

The show was used to pay for charter fees for Murray State’s first Greek organization, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Currently, the show’s profits are collected and placed in an account for music scholarships for young Murray State students. These scholarships are given out every four years.

The Campus Lights tradition continues each year because of its popularity. The show sells out almost every evening the show is presented each year.

In addition to the show, Campus Lights has built traditions into the production, such as the “Running of the Letters” during alumni night.

“Small changes are made to allow the ‘Running of the Letters’ for both music fraternities,” Knight said. “Probationary members and newly initiated members carry large boards or various sets of Greek letters for both organizations. The crests are also displayed somewhere on the sets.”

Following the show on Saturday night, the alumni join the fraternities in the Performing Arts Hall for an informal reception.

Tickets are available at the door for a cost of $10 for adults, $7 for students with a Murray State ID and $7 for children under 18.

On Friday night, students wearing something to signify they are in a student organization or Greek fraternity or sorority will receive $1 off their ticket price.

Saturday night, alumni of the Gamma Delta and Iota Beta chapters receive $1 off, and Sunday, seniors and children under 18 receive $1 off ticket price.

Only 500 tickets are available for each night.

Story by Hunter Harrell, Staff writer.