This weekend in the ’62 Center’s Directing Studio, Clyde Engle ’15 will be putting up a production of his independent project, an original musical titled Don’t Cry for Me Banks of Wall Street. The show is certainly very unique to Engle and it yields a thoroughly entertaining production. The musical revue tracks the path of Engle’s eight weeks at an investment bank in New York City this past summer and his subsequent rejection of that lifestyle to pursue his dream of working in theater. The grand ambition of his dream is reflected well in the lavishness of his attempts to use the limiting space of the Directing Studio.
The stage is expanded and brought in and out of focus thanks to excellent light work by Kimmy Golding ’16 and choreography by Miranda Hanson ’17. The latter, in particular, does its best to create the illusion of a big Broadway production on the bare-bones stage of the ’62 Center. That mentality is, unfortunately, the place where this production falls short.
The sole piano and relatively tiny cast meant that the voices of the actors and the campiness of the script couldn’t be exaggerated and complemented in the ways that Engle probably hoped they would be. With that said, the production itself is still enjoyable and a valuable way to start off your Friday or Saturday night.
Engle’s script speaks frankly to the audience in what sometimes feels like an overplayed trope, but this device makes the informal setting of the Directing Studio blend much better with the ambitiousness of the production. The songs that he has parodied are aptly chosen, well rewritten and most importantly, instantly recognizable. Even if you’ve only seen one musical in your life, odds are pretty high that you’d recognize a a song from the musical’s score in Engle’s show. This warmth and familiarity make the brief show all the more enjoyable, complemented by the extremely talented cast of musical theatre voices highlighted by solos from Evelyn Mahon ’18, Teague Morris ’17, Madeline Seidman ’17, Carina Zox ’16 and of course, Engle.
In typical fashion from the creator of “The Clyde Show,” a short-lived variety show in the form of The Colbert Report that took place in Paresky Auditorium during the 2012-13 school year, Engle inhabits the stage for all 70 minutes of the show, an impressive feat and one that the format of the writing necessitated.
Engle doesn’t merely entertain, though. He does his best to teach us all something about the importance of pursuing our dreams, no matter how clichéd it may sometimes sound. Of course, he also uses his proverbial pulpit to espouse an anti-banking manifesto that includes perhaps more factual content than the average audience member could handle. These rants are made even more intense by the concentrated eye contact, which the stage allows Engle to make, and the instances when he ventures into the audience for a point of particular passion.
The ending is a bit of a letdown that initially seems to work against the thesis of the play, but after taking it within the broader context of the play, it becomes a more palatable ending which merely mirrors the reality of the dream that Engle describes.
With a short, tumultuous production time, it is a bit of a surprise that this independent project was able to pull itself together, but I am glad it did. While it is in no ways the most technically impressive play you will see at the College, it is certainly one of the most fun ones, bringing the levity and joy of a big Broadway musical to a small College stage, something which is not seen often around these parts. Entrance to the play is free and seats are sure to go fast, so be sure to arrive ahead of time to grab a good seat. Don’t Cry for Me Banks of Wall Street will be performed this Friday and Saturday in the Directing Studio of the ’62 Center.