By Tara DeLorenzo
Rider musical theater will be saying “Howdy!” to some of country music’s best-selling women with its spring cabaret, “Constant Craving: A Country Music Cabaret.” The event will be taking place Feb. 13 and 14 in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater.
This cabaret will feature only women performers and is directed by Franklin Trapp. It will feature an array of numbers from country stars, such as the Dixie Chicks, Patsy Cline, Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood.
“This show is a revue of country music, both vintage and contemporary,” said Trapp. “It is a showcase of the diversity of music from the country music canon. The show highlights the talents of 16 Rider University women and will have a concert feel to it, complete with a live band on stage.”
As the director of this cabaret show, Trapp is passionate about country music. His selection of the genre was meant to challenge and inspire both the performers and the audience.
“Country music is a storytelling genre,” said Trapp. “I wanted to pick a genre that requires great singing, but really emphasizes the ability to tell a story about raw human emotions and situations. Country music fit the bill.”
Ensemble member, soloist and dancer Ashten Banister, a senior musical theater major, also has a passion for the cabaret’s theme, and is eager for the audience to see the show.
“I am from Tennessee, and I am beyond excited to share some of my heart and home with you northerners,” she said.
The show itself will be centered on powerful women country singers, and when planning the show, Trapp immediately focused on two of the major artists.
“Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire both have gorgeous voices,” said Trapp. “Their music really taps into some exciting themes that provide wonderful opportunities for our performers.”
In having such an experience as perfomers, the 16 women were able to develop a show in which every number being performed will be something to look forward to.
“Franklin Trapp wanted to celebrate country music and to tell stories through the different country songs that are in the show,” said Banister. “There is a ton of stand-out moments in the show. Every single girl in the cast has a wonderful, unique energy. I am thrilled for people to see what talent this cast has.”
Working on the show was an experience Banister was proud to be a part of, as everything fell together seamlessly.
“The process of putting the show together was quick and painless,” she said. “We staged the show in a total of three days because everyone was so on top of their music. The director, music director, choreographer, stage manager, assistant stage manager and the cast have all made this experience an amazingly fun one.”
Trapp, too, was impressed with how the production came together, and said he “loved every part. I have an amazing cast, crew and am working with marvelous designers.”
According to Trapp, this show is unique because country music is not the most popular genre on campus.
“Country music has not been highlighted as a viable performance genre at Rider,” said Trapp. “I think those who see the show, especially the students, will discover music that they want to explore and use for themselves.”
Banister agrees with the director’s sentiments and has high hopes for the audience’s reaction to the performances.
“The audience has the ability to go on emotional journeys with each of the cast members, both heartbreaking and delightful, and to be a part of the fun we are having on stage. They should expect everything — tear-jerkers, a ton of ‘Yee-ha’s,’ big group numbers and simply a good time,” she said. “I believe the audience will be shocked by how much fun they had.”
Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 and 14 in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater. Admission will be free.
Additional reporting by Emily Klingman and Alyssa Naimoli
Printed in the 2/10/15 edition