Sleepless in Parents Plaza: Arts Marathon brings twenty-four hours of entertainment to campus

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Photo Courtesy of Eliana Weinfeld

“I don’t think they realized how awkward it’s going to look performing in our street clothes,” Delaney Wilbur ‘18 said, nervously awaiting the Rocky Horror Picture Show performance later that day. Ah yes, the insomniac’s playground that is Art’s Marathon. Held around the same time every semester, the Muhlenberg Theater Association puts on a 24-hour theater festival to raise money for a specific cause. This semester, the funds went to Dieruff High School Theater. Arts Marathon is a conglomerate of new plays, performance ensembles, a cappella groups and some other wild things just thrown in.

Around lunchtime, I was sitting with a group of my friends, all a part of the Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast that performs every semester. This year they had been asked to perform in Arts Marathon and lip sync two of the group numbers in the show. However, part of the charm of Rocky is that when the actual show is performed, it starts at 11:30 p.m., all of the cast and attendees dress up in costume — and most of the time everyone is scantily clad, and a lot of people may or may not be extra hyper and giggly and excited to yell sexually explicit profanities at their friends. But this performance was happening at 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday in street clothes in the middle of campus, so it made the performers a bit nervous to be thrown out of their element.

Photo Courtesy of Eliana Weinfeld

The marathon began at 2 p.m. on this damp Oct. 14 and would end at 2 p.m. the next day. Watchers could come and go as they pleased, as all the groups would perform on the little stage in Parents Plaza, and then moved inside to Java Joe when the sun goes down. Rocky was the first performance I caught on Saturday. It was a little jarring to see them out of their natural state, for I have attended the showing they do every semester I’ve been on campus. The group performed “There’s a Light” and “The Time Warp” — two well known numbers from the popular cult classic. It was a bit odd to see Rocky performed in street clothes in the middle of the day, but the audience seemed to get a kick out of yelling the callouts at the cast nonetheless. “This is just a taste of what you’re gonna get at the real performance on Nov. 3,” Deanna Mayo ‘18, one of the presidents of the group, said.

The performances really picked up once the venue moved inside and the performance ensembles got a chance to shine. Everyone packed themselves into the little couches and chairs of Java Joe to watch MIA, UiP and my one of my favorite groups, To Be Determined, perform. That night, they switched up their musical improv stylings: instead of being accompanied by a piano, the actors performed a musical accompanied by two guitars.

Photo Courtesy of Eliana Weinfeld

But perhaps the most interesting part of Arts Marathon is what happens in Java Joe at three in the morning. This segment is called open mic, and anyone can go up and do literally anything they want for an audience. This segment was made famous in the past when Sam Narciso, who graduated in 2016, performed a ten-minute monologue entitled “Justice For Sharpay” about Sharpay Evans from the “High School Musical” series. Her performance became so popular that it has become hard for someone else to one-up that open mic. But Rachel Horun ‘19 and Michaela Barczak ‘19 gave her a run for her money when they performed “Rachel gives Michaela a haircut in public.” You heard me correctly. A riveting piece of performance art, the president of the MTA cut the Vice President’s hair in the middle of Java Joe’s. Art is truly evolving these days, folks.

For real, Arts Marathon was superb this year, and most importantly, it raises money for a great cause! I can’t wait to see what happens next time. Who knows, maybe during Arts Marathon 2018, we’ll publicly dye Larry Singer’s beard!

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