I am continually amazed by the breadth of arts groups that are part of the Physicians and Surgeons Club at the Medical School. Despite their extensive workload, medical students manage to find time to participate in a Choir, Coffeehouse concerts, Dance Club, Literary Society, acappella group The Ultrasounds, and more. This Saturday I headed uptown to see these talented doctors-to-be onstage in Bard Hall Players‘ production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.
The Medical Center is only several stops uptown on the 1 Train, or you can save the fare and take the Columbia shuttle for free. I was immediately jealous of the Alumni Auditorium, where the performance took place. The spacious theatre, though simple, is a great improvement over most Morningside performance spaces (certainly an improvement over Wien Lounge).
The production featured a large, exuberant cast; some parts that are typically played by one person (Narrator/Mysterious Man, Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince, etc.) were separated, in order to give roles to more actors. A few roles were also added to large group numbers, including Puss in Boots, Gnome, and “Maiden.” Though the set and lighting were limited, the stage was always filled with the talent and energy of the actors.
The enthusiasm of the performers was the most valuable, and pervasive, asset to the production. I have seen several productions of Sondheim’s classic, but this version of Into the Woods was one of the most fun I have experienced. The team clearly enjoyed themselves and that translated to the audience. Bard Hall Players added many whimsical touches, including the use of coconuts for the Princes’ horses a la Monty Python and the stepsisters played by two burly gentlemen in trashy wigs and bright gowns. The real stand-out was the cow Milky White, portrayed by Manuel Montano and Peter Rubenstein, billed as “Head” and “Rump” respectively. The bovine star stole every scene it was in, providing mute commentary on the action of its human costars and dancing to Sondheim’s catchier tunes.
Bard Hall Players directly challenges the dominant perception of medical students. These physicians sing, dance, and act, proving that doctors aren’t just entertaining on TV.
Darcy Zacharias, CC ’10