Review: NUStage produces ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ revue

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Review: NUStage produces ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ revue

Julia Barksdale plays Audrey II in the song

Julia Barksdale plays Audrey II in the song "Feed Me." / Photo by Sam Cronin

Julia Barksdale plays Audrey II in the song "Feed Me." / Photo by Sam Cronin

Julia Barksdale plays Audrey II in the song "Feed Me." / Photo by Sam Cronin

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By Sam Cronin, news staff

After a content warning preparing the audience for “mature themes, substance use, abuse, suicide and scantily clad appearances,” the crowd immediately knew what kind of show they were about to see.  As a revue, the production was a collection of songs centered around a theme: In this case, sin.

The performers of NU Stage Musical Theater Company’s “Seven Deadly Sins” production each embodied their sins deftly, down to the subtle interactions they had in the background. The rage with which Wrath spurned the advances of Lust, as well as Greed’s obvious distaste for the other sins, were nice touches that endeared the cast to the audience and made the characters feel real.

Director Tierney Banco, a third-year media and screen studies and theatre combined major and composer Maximilian Maybury and the other directors and producers chose appropriate songs from a variety of productions — such as “Hairspray,” “Hamilton” and “Wicked” — that each aptly fit one of the seven sins. Even with minimal set design, which consisted mainly of a raised metal-framed platform, and despite periodically low microphone levels for the lead singers, each song had a unique mood.

“You’re Nothing Without Me” from 1989’s “City of Angels” was a compelling story of Pride, in which an author wrestled with a character he wrote into a story that led a more successful life than him. Pride’s struggle with vicariously living through his most popular creation and the self-loathing he wrote into the character created a compelling duet. Singers Daniel Koerner, a first-year environmental studies and political science combined major, and Andrew Barrett, a fourth-year game design major, had an excellent synergy as creator and creation, which manifested with the two pushing each other around on stage.

In an upbeat “Please Don’t Touch Me” from the production “Young Frankenstein,” Annie Barnicle’s pompous, crass and raunchy take on Elizabeth drew chuckles and jeers from the audience, while the ensemble Lusted after her body. Barnicle is a first-year international business major.

“Science has always come first,” said a member of the ensemble

“As everyone in New York knows, I come first too,” Barnicle retorted with a wink to the audience.

A cabaret called “Money Makes the World Go ‘Round” was a unique and refreshing journey through Greed. The piece stood out for showing as much — if not more — male skin as female. Sebastian Hymson’s character, The Emcee, drew whoops and cheers from the audience in his cash-stuffed lingerie, as did as the harem surrounding him. The band then played an interlude of Pink Floyd’s “Money” to carry through the mood of Greed.

Joe Straceski and ensemble perform the song “Great Big Stuff.” / Photo by Sam Cronin

Joe Straceski’s rendition of the manic “Great Big Stuff” showcased Greed and insanity. His gruff punk voice sounded like a merge between lead singers of Green Jello and Exodus, and his flopping mess of hair made him appear consumed by his Greed. Straceski is a second-year computer science and computer engineering combined major.

Songs including “Say No to This” from “Hamilton” and “Feed Me” from “Little Shop of Horrors” drew some of the most fervent applause from the crowd.  

Sebastian Hymson, president of NUStage and third-year bioengineering student, has participated in close to 30 productions over more than 10 years and said that this has been a rewarding experience.

“It’s been great to enable people on stage and give a safe space,” Hymson said. “NUStage is a unique experience. Everyone is dedicated to what we do.”

Hymson’s rehearsal schedule is usually hectic, as it is for the rest of the cast and crew. Rehearsals run for two and a half hours each weeknight and ramp up to four and a half hours a night in the week leading up to the performance.

The week leading up to a performance is referred to as tech week, and is the first time the group actually rehearses in Blackman Auditorium, where the production crew attempts to finalize their routines and make sure the equipment works for the show.  

People can become involved in NUStage productions outside of performing. Nick Lozoponi, a first-year math and physics double major, works on the production crew.

“NUStage has been a really fun time,” Lozoponi said. “[Seven Deadly Sins] is my first show. I got welcomed in with open arms.”

Emily McMichael, the media coordinator of NUStage, is a second-year international affairs major. She said her role at NUStage is strictly non-musical, but her work on the production staff keeps her plenty busy between managing social media accounts, making posters and handling other communication duties within NUStage.

“It’s been a great experience. I’m not musically inclined, so interacting through social media and public relations has been a fun way to get involved with musical theatre,” McMichael said.

NUStage’s “Seven Deadly Sins” was a well-choreographed, well-arranged, well-structured and well-performed revue. The variety of the songs, the charisma of the singers and ensemble and the elaborate costuming all culminated in a delightful good time. Because as we all know, it’s better to laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.