Fresh Faces, started in 2009, is an annual show put on by Deep End APO that showcases the artistic abilities of first-year students. The cabaret-style night features musical, dance and theatrical performances, providing a wide and entertaining variety. Students take the stage both individually and in groups. This year’s performance is set to take place this Friday, March 20, and 7:00 p.m. in the Pause.
The Fresh Faces shows are part of Deep End’s larger mission “to produce inspiring student theater that supports the theatrical ambitions of St. Olaf College students.” Auditions are open to all first-year students, and everyone who auditions is guaranteed to be involved in the production. Furthermore, upperclassmen have the opportunity to direct the show; just like all Deep End productions, Fresh Faces is entirely student-run.
This year, Denzel Belin ’15 and David Gottfried ’15 were chosen to direct the first-year debut. Both directors acted in Fresh Faces their freshmen year. While both Belin and Gottfried have directed previous shows for Deep End APO, this is their first official collaboration. “It’s been wonderful collaborating with each other and also with 30-some performers,” Belin said.
Indeed, the theme of collaboration and community is central to the Fresh Faces experience. “Fresh Faces has been a great opportunity to collaborate with my peers outside of the classroom, and to connect with them through music and dance,” Elijah Verdoorn ’18 said.
While Fresh Faces has typically been structured as all small group or individual performances except for one whole group piece at the beginning and end of the show, Belin and Gottfried decided to change up the routine slightly by adding a full-cast song in the middle of the show as well.
“We wanted to make sure that we are keeping everyone active throughout the whole show,” Gottfried said.
The cast has been rehearsing all semester in preparation for the big night. In addition to the cast and directors, stage manager Erik Brandel-Tanis ’18 and assistant director Christa Schmidt ’16 have been instrumental in pulling together the show. Belin and Gottfried specifically pointed to their help with scheduling and finding time for the large cast and crew to rehearse, which has proven to be a challenge. Despite any challenges, all involved in Fresh Faces expressed excitement for the upcoming performance, with some regret that the fun, experience will soon be over.
“My Fresh Faces experience has been a blast. Getting the chance to perform such an awesome repertoire and befriend my peers is easily a highlight of my freshman year. I am so excited for the show, and sad that it will be over soon,” said Audrey Walker ’18.
This year’s production promises to honor the long-running tradition of showcasing up-and-coming first-year talent, but also to provide new material and a fresh angle. The audience may find that the light-hearted spirit of past shows to be replaced with a more realistic reflection of modern issues.
“It’s going to be edgier than in years past. We are edgier people, and we’re pushing the boundaries a bit. We’ve focused more on the theme of revolution; we were thinking about the riots in Ferguson, along with campus events like the die-in. We took all those pieces and thought, why would we make this a happy go lucky show when these are not happy-go lucky times? We wanted to reflect that,” Gottfried said.
“It’s going to be loud,” Belin said, “and angstier.”
While the show’s attitude might be a little “badder,” the upbeat community among the cast has certainly not been lost. Fresh Faces allowed many first years interested in musical theater to come together in a shared passion. We definitely bonded as a class and strengthened friendships,” Stuart Gordon ’18 said.
This year’s production of Fresh Faces is sure to be original, despite its annual tradition. The “freshness” of the directors’ perspective, along with the talent and excitement of the cast and crew, assure that there won’t be any dull moments. It will definitely be a show worth seeing.
Photo Credit: CATHRINE MEEDER/MANITOU MESSENGER