Published by The Critograph on March 29, 2017
Katherine Graves, Copy Desk Chief-
Senior Anna Wehr will showcase her talents in performance and theatre management in her senior project “The Great American Songbook with Anna Wehr” on Friday, March 31.
Wehr’s senior project is a cabaret that will teach the audience about modern musical conventions through performances that will illustrate them. The musical event is free to the public and will occur at 7:30 p.m. on the Dillard main stage.
“The idea of a musical, people think it’s reinvented every single time a musical is produced, but it is not,” Wehr said, citing the play “Hamilton” as an example of a new play that still uses song conventions.
Wehr’s senior project is a collaboration with her Westover senior thesis, which explores the modern musical conventions described by Jack Viertel in his book “Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows are Built.”
In her Westover thesis, Wehr analyzed the composers Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.
Wehr’s senior project cabaret will be comprised of songs from “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Anything Goes,” “Oklahoma!,” “West Side Story” and “Sweeney Todd.”
Wehr stated that, based off of Viertel’s musical conventions, her cabaret will include an opening song, an “I Want” song (where a character expresses his or her objectives) and an intermission song, among others.
Along with performing in her senior project, Wehr wrote the script for the cabaret, and she is the director and the producer.
“I’ve learned how to work with the cast. I think one of the hardest things is coordinating cast conflicts, working on everybody’s schedules and making sure everybody is ready for everything. That’s hard,” stated Wehr.
Nine other people will perform in the cabaret. The set is minimalist, and the costumes are black with red accents.
Wehr stated that she has received help on this project from much of the theatre department as well as Theatre Professor Loretta Wittman, her Westover professors Dr. Elizabeth Savage and Professor Naomi Amos, her stage manager senior Laina Vitalie and her lighting designer senior Jason Dow.
Wehr said that she is the lead in some of her songs, but every performer has a solo in the cabaret.
“I think performing has been my most confident area, and through it, I’ve become more confident because I used to be shyer. But I’m not as much anymore, which I really like. It’s just fun,” stated Wehr.
Wehr will receive the Outstanding Theatre Major Award this semester, said Wittman.
“She’s very easy to work with. [She’s] not only intelligent and talented, but she is also very detail oriented. And that’s a wonderful skill when it comes to theatre,” stated Wittman.
“She has many skills in a variety of areas, so I’m looking forward to seeing where both her interests and fate take her,” Wittman said.
Wehr began performing in her church choir when she was young. She stated that she has been performing in theatre since the fourth grade.
During her career at LC, Wehr has mainly been a performer. She took her senior year off from performing to focus on her Westover thesis and her internship. Wehr’s two-year internship with the Virginia Theatre Association in downtown Lynchburg led to her being offered a job after graduation as the association’s managing director. Wehr plans to remain in Lynchburg for the duration of her position as managing director for 16 months.
“I belong working in a theatre,” stated Wehr.
Wehr plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Management or Arts Administration after getting more experience in theatre management. She stated that she enjoys the business side of theatre.
“I still love to perform… But I also have found more love for the management side. It’s more stable for me,” Wehr said.
Wehr hopes that people will learn from her project and have fun watching it. She said she is excited to have her supportive family come down to see her work.
“It’ll just be nice to put everything together and see it come to life. Even though I can’t watch it, it’s like this is what my whole career has been preparing me for at the college,” Wehr stated.