78th Annual Campus Lights to open Friday

File photo A student prepares for last years performance of “Anything Goes” at Campus Lights.
File photo A student prepares for last years performance of “Anything Goes” at Campus Lights.

File photo
A student prepares for last years performance of “Anything Goes” at Campus Lights.

Singing, dancing and all the girl power you can handle will be packed into a night at Lovett Auditorium Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 2:30 p.m. as students and the music department host the 78th Annual Campus Lights production.

This year, Campus Lights will be putting on a performance of “9 to 5 the Musical” with the original music and lyrics written by Dolly Parton, based off the original 1980 movie of the same name.

The movie centers around three female employees, played by Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, who work for the same sexist, arrogant man and are looking for a way of turning the tables on him.

“I know a lot of us turned to the movie ‘9 to 5’ for inspiration,” said Melanie Davis, freshman from Mount Vernon, Ind., and actress in the musical. “We even listened to music from the 1970s before choreography rehearsal to get a better feel for the time period. As far as the ‘girl power’ theme goes, I think everyone is looking to Dolly Parton herself for inspiration.”

It is not just the actors or actresses who put their all into making sure the show goes on during the opening weekend. Students of any major can use the skills they have learned to contribute to the production.

Lauren Ruser, senior from Belleville, Ill., said this is her third year being a part of Campus Lights, only this year she took on a new role.

“The last two years I played upright bass in the pit orchestra,” she said. “This year, however, I am using the skills learned through the JMC department under my public relations major to fulfill the role of publicity coordinator for the show.”

The last week before the opening night is called “tech week,” or technical week, by people on the set. Ruser said tech week is, by far, one of the most challenging times of preparation.

During this week, the cast and crew work together to be sure the lights, set and sounds all are in place for opening night.

“It can be frustrating at times working out the kinks,” Ruser said. “But it is always the most rewarding experience to see a performance finally fall into place.”

With shows beginning Friday night, Davis said opening night always has a special energy to it. She said everyone is able to throw their nerves on the shelf and put their best performance out there for the crowd.

“When your cast mates are giving it their all, you can’t help but do the same,” Davis said.

She will take on the role of Judy Bernly, a role originally played by Fonda in the motion picture, and said this character is the most dynamic and relatable character she has ever been able to play.

“She (Bernly) completely transforms from a submissive, clumsy girl to an independent and powerful woman,” Davis said. “Her transformation in the show is inspiring to me both on and off stage.”

Story by Breanna SillFeatures Editor