It comes as a surprise how good of an actor Andrew Gaffney, A&S ’16, is when he first steps up to the mic at Bonn Theater. Skittishly weaving back and forth between the microphone and piano, Gaffney took a lighthearted, humorous tone that pervaded the entirety of People Weren’t Meant to Sing, an original song cycle written and arranged by Gaffney.
Gaffney conceived People Weren’t Meant to Sing back in October when he was faced with a large amount of free time in between shows. He first composed the opening song, “People Don’t Listen,” which eventually became the title song of the show. Arranged around piano accompaniment, Gaffney’s song cycle focused not only on the vocal abilities of the soloists but the meaning behind the lyrics. Performed by Christy Coco, A&S ’17, and accompanied by Gaffney, “People Don’t Listen” was referred to as “Is That What the Title Means?” as the first of a series of alternate joke song titles. The music number established the comedic, tongue-in-cheek mood of the show.
“Sob Story” (or “The ‘Political’ Song”) evoked both elements of narrative storytelling and comedy. Performed by Shukra Salon, LSOE ’16, “Sob Story” used personal hardships and difficulties in its lyricism. Salon played into the ironic nature of the song title by reiterating, “I have no sob story.”
Barefoot and clad in a whimsical white dress, Cassie Chapados, A&S ’17, emerged onstage to perform a rendition of “Out Damned Spot.” Incorporating prose from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Chapados evoked the image of a guilt-ridden Lady Macbeth, maddened by murder and wandering the royal castle in a delirious state. The title itself, “Out Damned Spot,” referred to a scene in Macbeth in which Lady Macbeth ruminates over how to remove blood stains. Referred to as “The ‘Psychotic Murder’ Song,” Chapados’ performance used both acting and singing in the performance piece in order to convey darker themes found in Shakespeare’s tragic play.
Julianne Quaas, A&S ’15, then stepped up to the mic for a performance of “Vanishing.” Aptly referred to further as “Dreams Come True,” Quaas’ powerful vocals and the emotional fervor of the lyrics backed the unconventional nature of the song. Alternating between comedic and serious musical pieces, People Weren’t Meant to Sing elicited laughter from the audience while also conveying emotional, personal themes.
“One Note” was composed and sung entirely in the E key. Performed by Sarah Mass, A&S ’15, the comedic music number used interpretative dance and humorous lyricism. Mass reiterated, much to her chagrin, how tiresome it was to sing only one note for the entirety of the song. Bolstered by impressive vocals and Gaffney’s piano accompaniment, Mass danced across the stage, acting out the lyrics through interpretative dance.
In a musical interlude, Gaffney himself took to the microphone in a piece titled, “End It All” or “The ‘Indulge the Composer’ Song.” In the slow musical number, Gaffney connoted personal experience and genuine emotion through piano and song. “There’s nothing out there for me,” Gaffney sang in one verse, expressing honest sentiment in a rare moment of solemnity during the show.
In “The ‘Quartet for 8 People’ Song,” eight members of the cast emerged onstage. Performed by Sarah Whalen, A&S ’18, Kathryn Raskin A&S ’15, Kate Weidenman, LSOE ’16, Jenna Corcoran, A&S ’17, Chris Losco, A&S ’17, John Robert Scordino, A&S ’17, Chris Pinto, and Ryan Cooper, both A&S ’16, the musical number featured four members at a time singing in unison, alternating between each grouping. Incorporating lyrics from Edgar Allan Poe’s “Deep in Earth” couplet, the song was notable for conveying classical poetry in song and stood as one of the more unique moments of the show.
Written by Sam Goober, A&S ’15, “Our Best Shot” featured Goober and Jared Reinfeldt, A&S ’16, in a tongue-in-cheek piece about relationships and romantic love. Fittingly titled, “The ‘Not a Love’ Song,” Goober and Reinfeldt detailed the progression of a failed relationship. Their playful humor and use of recognizable tropes in romantic relationships focused the song on relatable experiences. Reinfeldt and Goober sang, in the ending verse of the song, “Our love was good in principle, in practice it was not.”
In one of the more standout musical renditions in the song cycle, Julia James, A&S’17, sang about menstruation in “My Period Song” (or “The “Shocking For Some of You, All Too Real for the Rest’ Song”). James specifically sang “for the boys in attendance,” recounting the hardships and difficulties surrounding menstruation. James sang of period pain by focusing on humorous anecdotes and personal experience.
The last musical number “Where Are They Now” featured David Makransky, A&S ’17, in a slow ballad. Alternatively titled, “The ‘Please Sing Just One More’ ‘A’ For Us’ Song,” the rendition highlighted Makransky’s strong vocals in the emotionally evocative performance. Makransky was later joined by the rest of the ensemble in the reprise of the song.
Gaffney’s People Weren’t Meant to Sing infused both comedy and moments of poignancy through clever lyricism and relatable themes. “My Period Song” and “Our Best Shot” combined realistic anecdotes and meaningful experience with comedy. And with “One Note,” “Quartet for 8 People,” and “Out Damned Spot,” Gaffney wasn’t afraid to take risks, either.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor