“MAD About You!” will win hearts just in time for Valentine’s Day

By Giavanna Troilo

Looking for a last minute Valentine’s Day date idea? The Rider Musical Theater Department’s upcoming cabaret “MAD About You!” promises to take audience members on an emotional rollercoaster of love and loss.

The cabaret, guest directed by Franklin Trapp of the Forestburgh Playhouse, will feature a variety of familiar artists and genres and speak to the trials and tribulations of love, joy and heartbreak.

Nicholas Contois, sophomore musical theater major and cast member of the cabaret, is confident that this show will “pull at the heartstrings” of all who attend.

“I think that any audience member can find a piece of this show that they love,” he said. “It ties together musical theater repertoire and 2000s pop songs.”

The show will feature songs from the likes of Bruno Mars, Queen and Lily Allen, in addition to musical theater favorites such as “Hairspray,” “The Prom” and “South Pacific” — all within the course of an hour.

Contois will be featured in Mars’ “Marry You,” as well as the “South Pacific” classic, “Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair.”

“The show sells itself,” said Contois. “Each song features a new soloist, a new twist on a classic and an original image.”

The cabaret offers a different experience than the mainstage musical — though some are scripted, every year Rider creates its own collection of stories to tell through song.

Alyxandria Batty, sophomore musical theater major and another cast member of the cabaret, said the performance will put many featured soloists and ensemble members on display.

“I think everyone gets hyper fixated on the musical, but the cabaret gives more of a chance to showcase people who may not be showcased all the time,” she said. “We still do character work, but it’s more personal — it’s not like, ‘this is what you have to do because that’s what the script says’, which is really cool.”

Fine and Performing Arts students from first-year to fourth-year will all have a chance to shine; according to Batty, students featured in the show have had just a few weeks to get the show together, having received the song list in mid-January.

Despite the short rehearsal period, Batty, who will be a featured soloist in “Unruly Heart,” from “The Prom,” believes “MAD About You!” sets itself apart in that each song is a “showstopper.”

“Most of the time that doesn’t happen – most of the time, you’re like, ‘oh yes, that’s the weak spot.’ It’s showstopper after showstopper; there’s so much talent in our cast,” Batty said.

In attending this weekend’s performance, audiences can be sure to find something they can connect to — from euphoria, to angst, to bliss, to pain, “MAD About You!” will cover it all.

“Love is a very human condition, and it’s the basis of pretty much every interaction we have,” said Batty. “This showcases the many different faces of it.”

“MAD About You!” will run from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16 in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater. No ticket purchase is necessary. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. on both days.

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