Admittedly, a few of the things on my Cap and Gown List were after-the-fact add-ons; they were things I did and only subsequently realized their importance. There are also things I wish I could put on my list but don’t because writing about them seems a little too revealing (or perhaps like it would get me in too much trouble to be worth the 750 words).
However, attending a performance at the Mondavi Center has always been on my pre-graduation to-do list, and I am happy to say I have successfully completed my goal. Oh, and now I have “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!” stuck in my head … but oddly I’m kind of okay with it staying there.
One of the features that puts UC Davis at the forefront of collegiate life is the renowned Mondavi Center, which serves as the stage for virtually every kind of production, from university-sponsored dance concerts to visits from the San Francisco Symphony. From Gloria Steinem (cancelled, much to my dismay), to the up-coming Patti Lupone visit, to Ladysmith Black Mambazo (awesome!), Mondavi has something for every taste.
Last weekend, I decided to make my UC Davis theater dreams come true and attended a performance of the musical favorite, Okahoma!. Beyond the fact that for a grammar nerd like me, a musical with punctuation in the title is irresistible, the UC Davis production of Okahoma! was truly wonderful.
A theater critic I am not, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as did the eight people I went with. The stage decorations were impressive, detailed and authentic; the pit orchestra was seamlessly incorporated into the acting and singing, and sounded cohesive and strong; and, the dance numbers were well choreographed and flawlessly performed.
More than any of that, though, the talent onstage was abundant. Admittedly, I chose this performance in part because I knew the female lead and therefore knew my maiden trip to Mondavi would be memorable. While I was correct in my belief that the performances would be good, my expectations were far surpassed, by my friend as well as all the other performers. I did find a bit of a green monster of jealousy situation at the singing ability of those involved, especially because “my shower hasn’t kicked me out yet” would be the best review of my vocal talents I could hope for. However, jealousy aside, I was blown away.
Watching these performers on stage, students I had seen around campus and had classes with, I was reminded how many opportunities are available to students at UC Davis in so many different areas. While there were professional actors and singers, who were very talented as well, the majority of the ensemble cast, and several of the leading roles, were students. They were able to keep up with the professionals and, for lack of a less cliché way to articulate my thoughts … they sang their hearts out.
I have always loved musicals; Okahoma! is no exception to the things that make musicals such fun to watch, and features such classics as “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!,” “Oklahoma!” and “Surrey with a Fringe On Top.” I most certainly left the theater with songs playing over and over in my head, and enjoyed the after-effects of the performance for days afterward.
Working in the department of music, I saw the immense amount of effort that went into just part of the publicity for Okahoma! I know there were hundreds of people involved in the various aspects of putting on the production and that adds another layer to an already impressive performance, as well as reminds me of the collaborative nature of a university like UC Davis.
Watching Okahoma! with my friends and hundreds of other musical-goers really enhanced my experience, especially being on campus and feeling like part of the larger community participating in culture. Ultimately, I emerged from the musical both with a smile on my face and suddenly aware of why the venue is one of the bragging-points of UC Davis and its theatre, music and dance departments.
EMILY KAPLAN is excited for the season finale of “Bones“ next week. Anyone else who is pulling for Booth and Brennan to get together should e-mail her at email@example.com.