Lighting up the stage: Students prepare for the 81st Campus Lights production

Story by Lindsey Coleman, Assistant News Editor

Story by Nick Erickson, Assistant Features Editor

Photo courtesy of Millie Wade

Murray State is vibrant every January as students return to campus to rehearse for the longest running student produced and performed musical in the south: Campus Lights.

This year will mark the university’s 81st production, breathing life into an old classic entitled “Into the Woods.”

Sigma Alpha Iota and Phi Mu Alpha sponsor Campus Lights each year and students from several different majors come together to bring the show to life. Anyone on campus can get involved.

The Brothers Grimm musical by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim is being made over by this year’s director, Landen Bates, senior and theater major from Shelbyville, Kentucky.

“When we are doing show selection, it’s brought up every year as one of the options, but it’s never chosen,” Bates said. “I came in with this different concept of it and everyone latched to it.”

Bates was the Campus Lights assistant director his freshman year. Now in his fifth year at Murray State, he serves as the director.

“This is the first show that I ever fell in love with when I was like ten years old and I’ve always had this concept in my head,” Bates said.

By bringing in the humanistic qualities of classic characters such as Cinderella and Red Riding Hood, Bates said he thinks the show is something everyone would appreciate— even people who don’t usually attend musicals.

Nathan Arnold, senior music performance major from Mount Vernon, Illinois will be participating in his third Campus Lights performance.

Arnold said that many hours of hard work go into the show’s preparation.

“Phi Mu Alpha and Sigma Alpha Iota volunteer a lot of time helping create the magic of the show with the sets, props and technical design such as lights and sound effects,” Arnold said. “The actors spend two weeks of their winter break working every day with the director, choreographer and vocal director.”

In addition to the actors, Arnold said the select number of talented instrumental musicians who put in the time and effort help to make the experience amazing.

Arnold said that his favorite part of performing is the bond that is created between the cast members.

“I also enjoy being able to create my own version of the character I’m portraying,” Arnold said.

Lucas Morgan, junior from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky and assistant chairman of the 2018 Campus Lights production said he is most excited about the 1920s spin on the show.

“It’s not really something that Campus Lights has done in the past,” Morgan said. “They’ve just kind of taken the shows as they are and presented them. I’m excited for the audience reaction to that.”

One of the most unique parts of the production is the beginning of each live performance. A tall vintage street light, which Morgan said is their most prized possession, sits illuminated in the corner of the stage during every Campus Lights show.

“It’s locked up in the light room,” Morgan said. “No one is allowed to bring it out until Campus Lights night but we have that on the corner of the stage every single year.”

For Morgan, the opportunity to join the tradition is indescribable.

“It’s super cool that I get to carry it on and train the future of Campus Lights as well,” Morgan said. “I can’t really see this ending. We’ve built up this momentum.”

Despite university closures from inclement weather, Campus Lights will be open to the public in Lovett Auditorium Jan. 19-20 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 21 at 2:30 p.m. See below for ticket prices.

Adults: $15

Students (with I.D.): $10

Children 12 and under: $7