After three years of intense, art-driven endeavors at CC, junior political science/music double major, Wesley Brandt, will present his musical, “Hear No Evil in the Year 2090” in early February.
Assistant directing student play “Assassins,” acting in several additional productions, writing music for Dance Workshop, singing a capella in Room 46, and playing piano weekly at the Dale St. Cafe didn’t quite cut it for Brandt in his underclassmen years.
“I always planned to put on a musical at CC; the question was what kind of show to do,” Brandt said.
This grand undertaking began with a proposal idea about the Challenger Space Shuttle tragedy, which was denied by the Student Musical Theater Group. Brandt did not let this stop him from fulfilling his ultimate goal.
“Hear No Evil” was inspired by a musical Brandt put on in his last year of high school, along with elements of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“The Occupy movement was starting right as this play idea began to find its way out of the primordial soup of my brain. While unintentional, this certainly makes the show timely,” Brandt said.
With early recognition from the producer, junior Sylvie Scowcroft, and technical director, sophomore Robert Mahaffie, Brandt was confident in creating a large production with a cast of 30-plus backed by the largest budget for a student production in recent history.
“From the beginning, Wes has been bringing his vision to life, and it’s a really cool process to be a part of,” junior and actor Jack Williamson said.
Going into this past summer, Brandt had secured junior drama major Kevin Dorff as the director; Kate Rafter, a senior dance major, is designing costumes and choreographing scenes. The Cornerstone South Theatre was reserved a year in advance for the upcoming show.
Beyond the logistics of the production, Brandt spent virtually all of his free time in the past year to fabricate his vision into a script.
“I had an intense, nine-to-six desk job in the sweltering D.C. heat, so I spent my hour-long commute this summer working on the show,” Brandt said.
With the help of junior English major Patrick Lofgren, the pair constructed a main arc for the story and worked on smoothing out details over the summer.
“The story was very much a politically liberal dystopia thing until Parker, a conservative libertarian, came in and took it in a way more interesting direction. I’d like to think it doesn’t lean too far in one direction, instead attacking the relationship between government and business, through the lens of the future to observe more objectively,” Brandt said.
Between his efforts this summer and the 200 songs that Brandt wrote in previous years, he was able to carefully select a handful of pieces for the final production.
“It’s the kind of thing where you have to just write and write until you find the right song. That’s why plot-driven musicals are such an exciting challenge to me,” Brandt said.
And it hasn’t been an easy feat selecting from his collection of works.
“Lyrics are really easy to screw up. Funny ones come fast; serious ones are preposterously difficult. There were a few heartbreaking moments where I had to take a whole song or idea that I loved and scrap it because it just wasn’t right for the scene,” Brandt said.
His dedication to perfecting the production has certainly paid off.
“It’s always fun to watch Wes’ face light up when someone hits a moment the way he had it pictured in his head,” Williamson said.
Once Brandt returned in the fall with a complete script and some run-throughs under his belt, the group held auditions and sought a hefty budget. Fortunately, they received the Life of the Mind Grant and additional financial assistance from the CCSGA.
The plot is centered on the Lyons family, in which Williamson plays the father and President, Susannah Post plays the wife and CEO of a technology monopoly, and their daughter, played by Hillie Teller, is a journalist and host of the nation’s most popular, opinion-based news/entertainment program.
The production team hopes to draw students in through flyers advertising for a fictional protest against the regime in the show. The final production of “Hear No Evil in the Year 2090” is next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (February 1-3) at 7:30 p.m. in Cornerstone South Theatre.
“I think the show is going to be something spectacular with great music, an awesome script, and incredible performances… if I do say so myself. I can’t wait to get in front of an audience!” Williamson said.