A small cast with a large personality, Seattle Pacific Theatre department’s rendition of Oh Coward! reveres Noel Coward and his great contribution to the theater. A musical revue devised by Roderick Cook, the performance opened on May 21.
Coward’s effervescent music and captivating repartee combine for an evening encapsulating his talent to amuse.
As the show prepares for its second weekend of performances, the three-person cast reflects on the process of putting the production together. Throughout the show, the three actors sing numbers about England, travel, theater, love and women.
Actor and senior Gabriel Adams was excited to be a part of the production.
“When I got the role, I felt really blessed that I had been given a great opportunity,” Adams said.
“Throughout the process of the show, our director Candace Vance had us try and create characters for each specific scene,” Adams said. “It’s so different than a normal play. Very rarely does SPU do a musical, so I was super excited when I got the part.”
A small backstage production, Oh Coward! featured a simple and effective scene design. With accompanist Emily Witt situated on one end of the stage, the rest of the space was left open. The actors occasionally brought on three compact benches. Despite the multiple transitions within the show, the actors were able to maintain a sense of fluidity and precision.
Adams’ impeccable comedic timing was constant throughout the show. Equally as brilliant are junior Tucker Goodman and senior Hannah Schuerman, who play Man #2 and The Woman. The three actors were constantly changing characters and scenarios, yet their energy and zeal never faltered.
“The greatest challenge of putting together this show was the additional layers on top of normal acting, [such as] the dialect, music and remembering what time period we were in,” Adams said.
All of those factors are important to the comedy of the show.
“British humor as told by Noel Coward would have been described as champagne,” Adams said. “It’s light, classy and sharp. The crispness of the British dialect is so central to the musical that diction became the most difficult challenge for me,” Adams said.
Though Oh Coward! was first performed in 1972, the revue contains meaning and humor still applicable today.
“This being my last show here at SPU, I was so happy to be able to do it with two of my closest friends,” said Schuerman. “The show is about performers, performing. I love the moments in the show when I get to be stripped down of a character and just be that performer, which I think is the most real version of me as a performer.“
The dynamic trio had compelling voices that left a lasting impression echoing throughout the performance. They sang with fervor and excitement in a way that takes the audience on an engaging expedition of British humor and practice.
“I think people should see this show because it’s different,” Goodman said.“It’s something we haven’t done before, or not recently. Because it’s a musical revue, it’s less of a story and more about entertainment. It’s an opportunity to learn more about the playwright.”
The tightknit cast worked together to produce a show that had audiences roaring with laughter. With an exuberant cast and incredible accompanist, this end of the year production is one not one to miss.
“When I look back on this show, what I’ll remember most is the scenes where we were all together,” Adams said.
Oh Coward! runs May 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. and May 30 at 2:00 p.m..