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The Michigan Daily I michigandaily.com I Thursday, November 3,2011
Nov. 3 to 6
Hey, Rude Mechanicals
is doing a play in the
tomorrow and Saturday
at 8 p.m. and Sunday
at 2 p.m. And it's called
"Hamlet." And it's about
this prince of Denmark
whose father was killed
by his uncle and now his
uncle is sleeping with
his mother. And then his
father tells the prince
in a vision to avenge his
death. Oh, and "The Lion
Kin " is kind of based
on t. Tickets from $3.
The rise of a 'U' theatr
troupe from the Basement
to the national stage
By Kavi Shekhar Pandey, Senior Arts Editor
bouttwoyears ago, inabasementon aNorth
Campus far, far away, a group of friends
from the University's theater program put
on "A Very Potter Musical," a lovingly witty
tribute to The Boy Who Lived and his wiz-
arding pals. Inadvertently, the musical's international
fame blossomed, and its creators, members of the group
now called StarKid, followed up with the legendary Base-
ment Arts performances "Me and My Dick" and "A Very
The founding members of StarKid, who are all alumni
of the University's School of Music, Theatre & Dance,
have moved base camp to Chicago, where they continue
to put on original musicals like last February's "Starship."
But tomorrow night, the crew will return home to the
Michigan Theater for the opening leg of their S.P.A.C.E.
(StarKid Precarious Auditory Concert Experience) tour.
Everyone knows the fame: Darren Criss in "Glee" and
his impending succession of Daniel Radcliffe's role on
Broadway. Everybody knows the numbers: The group's
channel has more than 100 million views on YouTube. But
the story behind their rise to global stardom reveals how
truly remarkable and down to earth these StarKids are.
A StarKid is born
The beginning of StarKid can be traced back to a Base-
ment Arts stage adaptation of one of the great fantasytales
of our time - no, not "Harry Potter" (that came later), but
"The Hobbit." Back in 2006, then MT&D student Nick
Lang pitched the idea to put on a "Hobbit" play to Base-
ment Arts. The student group approved it, but that was
before Lang had actually read the play. Once the script was
in his hands, Lang realized it wasn't good and decided to
rewrite it - which is against the rules of Basement Arts.
"But that's a big part of StarKid," said 2009 alum Joe
Walker. "Doing whatever the hell we need to make the
"The Hobbit" begat April 2008's production of "The
Hobbit 2: The Lord of the Rings" which featured much of
the current StarKid cast, including 2009
alum Lauren Lopez as Frodo Baggins, 2008
alum Brian Holden as Aragorn and Walker
as Boromir, Faramir and their father Denethor
(who Walker calls the "asshole humans"). While
Lang's version of "The Hobbit" toed the line between
proper story and parody,this production was more explic-
itin its absurdity - Sauronwas defeated by tying his shoes
together (delayed spoiler alert), for one.
Alas, there's no opportunity for StarKid fans to see a
video of the "Lord of the Rings" adaptation, but the show
succeeded in developing a working relationship among the
StarKids-to-be and making an impression on those who
weren't directly involved with the play.
e cal he fans
call us StarK
-- Bran H en , 200 U a r
"I'm a year behind, so my freshman year I saw the show
and thought, 'Holy shit, that's the funniest thing I've ever
seen,' said 2011 alum Joey Richter, who would go on to
play Ron Weasley in the "Potter" musicals.
At this point, there was no conception that the actors
were in some sort of troupe - they just took classes and
were friends with each other in the School of Music, The-
atre & Dance. Walker and Richter described the theater
program as a "small fraternity" where everyone, if not
friends, at least knew each other.
He performed last
semester in Hill Audi-
torium. If you missed
him, then you've got
another chance now,
Meanwhile, the concept of a assuming you're will-
"Harry Potter" musical had been ing to make the trek
bubbling in the minds of brothers over to Ypsilanti.
Matt and Nick Lang (graduates in Three-time Grammy
2010 and 2008, respectively) for years. nominated Lupe Fiasco
Some of the key gags that would appear in will be playing at the
the musical were jokes they had been floating around, liM U Convocation
and these ideas eventually drove the creation of a defini-~
tive script. The writers - the Lang brothers and HoldenCenter on Saturday
- were savvy of the actingskills of close friends and class- at 8 p.m after releas-
mates and often wrote the parts to fit the strengths of the ing his third album
actors they had in mind, a tactic they often practice in cur- L.A.S.E.R.S earlier this
rent productions. year. Tickets from $45.
The premiere date for the "Harry Potter" musical was
set for April 2009, and the weeks leading up to the show
were as haphazard as one would expect from a student
production. For starters, much of the cast was in anoth-
er play two weeks before opening night - a show called
"Summertime," directed by 2009 alum Julia Albain
(who's also directing the current tour) - which trimmed
the rehearsal schedule to about a fortnight. While every-
one else was tied up with the show, Walker and 2011 alum
Brian Rosenthal spent the time knocking out their scenes FILM
as Voldemort and Quirrell, fine-tuning the tricky blocking
that comes with standing back to back for most of the first "I Would Die 4 You"
act, with their heads sharing the neck hole of a single robe. to attend a midnight
Once the rest of the cast was done with "Summertime," showing at the State
the next two weeks were a mad rush to make sure the
show would be ready in time for the premiere. Criss had Theater this Saturday.
to use the time to nail his lead role and write all the music Just kidding. But actu-
and lyrics, finishing the last song - "Voldemort is Going ally, "Purple Rain,"
Down" - two days before opening night. the Academy Award-
"My dad had come into town to visit, and he came in to winning musical-film
watch one of our rehearsals on the Monday of the week of sensation starring
the show," Richter said. "He looked at me after rehearsal Prince will play at 11:59
and said, 'You guys sure you're going to go up on Thurs-
day? You don't want to give yourselves one more day?"' p.m. The opportunity
But aside from a few minor miscues, the first show - to go crazy watching
which was the first time it was performed seamlessly Prince circa 1984 -
See STARKID, Page 3B whether fictionalized
or otherwise - is one
that cannot be missed.
Tickets from $7.
This Saturday, a buf-
fet of unaccompanied
and beatboxing will be
coming to a Rackham
Auditorium near you.
It's MACfest, the Mich-
ian A Cappella Coun-
cil's annual tribute to all
that is vocal polyphony.
The 7 p.m. concert
features all 14 of the
a cappella groups on
from South Asian to
Jewish to Christian.
All tickets $10.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHRIS DZOMBAK
DESIGN BY LEAH BURGIN , GRAPHIC BY NOLAN LOH