Provocative Musical Theater


Visiting musical director makes a splash with Next! A Cabaret From The Front Lines.

By Stephen Collins '74
Photography by Jeff Earickson

Students perform Next! at Colby
The notion that musical theater—think South Pacific and Annie—is provocative proved provocative itself in March. When Irving D. Suss Visiting Guest Artist Jonathan Mastro (theater and dance) directed Next! A Cabaret From the Front Lines based on that premise, Maine radio and television producers jumped on the story.

In March Maine Public Radio aired a five-minute feature with recordings of the student ensemble’s singing woven through Mastro’s commentary. A day earlier Portland’s NBC affiliate featured a longer interview with Mastro on its TV magazine show, 207. Mastro came to Colby in the glow of having provided original music and musical direction in the wildly successful Our Town production currently running off-Broadway. His roots are in Chicago theater, having worked with Second City, the Goodman Theater, and The Neo-Futurists.

His Next! program was an amalgamation of provocative musical theater material from shows including Working, Annie, Hair, and South Pacific, with students playing themselves putting on a revue. “I’m interested in musical theater as an instrument for social change,” he said on MPBN’s Maine Things Considered. “I’m interested in shows that give you a sense of what’s possible in the world, and not necessarily just shows that show you pretty dancers and that have happy endings.
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