From Campus to Cabaret: Students Perform at 54 Below

“It was a dream come true to share a dream alongside your friends,” said junior Grace Peknic, a member of Sacred Heart University’s Theatre Arts Program (TAP).

On Tuesday, March 12, the Broadway venue 54 Below in New York City held a concert revival celebrating William Finn’s Marvin Trilogy musicals. The event, which showcased the songs of “In Trousers,” was co-produced by an alumna of the university, Grace Kelly Kretzmer ‘23.

William Finn is an American composer and lyricist best known for his musicals, which include a trilogy about the character Marvin. “In Trousers” is the first of the trilogy, followed by “March of the Falsettos” and “Falsettoland.” The one-act musical was portrayed by a cast of 20 people at 54 Below, including two undergraduate students, Peknic and senior Christopher Conte.

“It was so fun. If you’re a theatre kid, you grow up watching these people perform at this place and then to see yourself there is like a full circle moment,” said Conte.

Kreztmer had reached out to her peers about the auditions for the show. The rest of the cast was made up of friends, actors in the city and other people looking for a chance to perform.

“I personally love meeting new people who share the same love of musical theatre. The opportunity to perform alongside these artists and musicians and connect with them was an experience that I will forever be grateful for,” said Peknic.

The show presented 29 songs from “In Trousers” in a cabaret-style format. This format entailed the show running continuously for a little over an hour, with some songs lasting as short as 30 seconds to one minute.

Among the attendees were not only theater enthusiasts but also fellow SHU students and friends of the cast members.

“I was really impressed with the show, especially with how they utilized such a large cast for only four characters and simplified it for the audience,” said junior Addie Brewster. “The way this cast acted on stage I would never know that they just met each other.”

The sheet music was handwritten by Finn, and there were many different recordings from the original that the producers and cast had to work with. The cast was given the material back in October, but they only had two to three weeks to rehearse together before show night.

“Sacred Heart University’s Theatre Arts Program gave me the skills to adapt to this fast, changing environment,” said Peknic.

The connection that Peknic and Conte made with Kreztmer during their time at the university and in TAP allowed them to have this opportunity and understand what their career path looks like post- graduation.

“I met Grace at Sacred Heart and we got close through doing a show and it was cool to see how this friendship has grown into us performing in the city together,” said Conte.

Aside from performing, Kreztmer has worked as an educator, director, choreographer, stage manager, assistant director and dance teacher in community and children’s theatres across Connecticut and New York. She is an aspiring artistic director and her production of “54 Sings in Trousers’’ alongside Dara Weinstein was a sold-out show.

“I was filled with immense pride. Grace worked so hard to put on such an incredible show and Chris shined on the 54 Below stage,” said Peknic.

This event diverged from the traditional show format that Peknic and Conte typically engage in, offering them a chance to explore diverse performance avenues.

“This experience really solidified that I want to pursue musical theatre outside of college and that I am going to follow my dream,” said Peknic.

About the author

Staff Writer

Leave a Reply