CSU theatre, orchestra collaborate for political performance

Maddie Wright

The University Center for the Arts hosted a special show Friday night, highlighting both the

The University Symphony Orchestra and CSU Theatre perform Every Good Boy Deserves Favor at the University Center for the Arts Thursday night. The performance was directed by professor Eric Prince and conducted by Music Director of the Fort Collins Symphony Wes Kenney. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)
The University Symphony Orchestra and CSU Theatre perform Every Good Boy Deserves Favor at the University Center for the Arts Thursday night. The performance was directed by professor Eric Prince and conducted by Music Director of the Fort Collins Symphony Wes Kenney (pictured). (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

musical and the acting talent at Colorado State University. 

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The performance was called “Every Good Boy Deserves Favor,” referencing to the acronym, EGBDF, that people use to learn music in treble clef. The play follows two men inside a psychiatric hospital during 1970s Soviet Union. One man, Alexander, is put in this institution for criticizing the government. The other, Ivanov, believes there is an orchestra in his head.

This is where things get interesting. Because of Ivanov’s musical mind, an entire orchestra is needed to perform this play. For this specific performance, an 85 piece orchestra was used.

The show was written as a collaboration project between Tom Stoppard, who has also written “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” and “Shakespeare in Love,” and composer Andre Previn.

The University Symphony Orchestra and CSU Theatre perform Every Good Boy Deserves Favor at the University Center for the Arts Thursday night. The performance was directed by professor Eric Prince and conducted by Music Director of the Fort Collins Symphony Wes Kenney. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)
The University Symphony Orchestra and CSU Theatre perform Every Good Boy Deserves Favor at the University Center for the Arts Thursday night. The performance was directed by professor Eric Prince and conducted by Music Director of the Fort Collins Symphony Wes Kenney. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

This collaboration between the playwright and the composer back when the show was written in 1977 carries through to the collaboration 40 years later between Director Eric Prince and Conductor Wes Kenney who brought together the CSU Theatre and University Symphony Orchestra.

“I can’t read music,” Prince said. “To me, it’s like reading Russian. It’s this language that I just don’t get, and yet I love it. I can’t live without it. My job is to try and discover and translate the truth of what human behaviour is being rejected.” 

The performance was presented in two parts. The first was the orchestra performing two suites for about an hour. The second suite included Wesley Ferreira, an associate professor of clarinet, as a special guest.

“We always have new students in the orchestra,” Kenney said. “Some of them are graduate students, but a lot of them are freshman, and to sit down and try and tackle something like this the first time you get into a university orchestra, that’s certainly going to have its challenges. But as one student says ‘I wasn’t really sure what to make of this, and now I love it.’”

The University Symphony Orchestra and CSU Theatre perform Every Good Boy Deserves Favor at the University Center for the Arts Thursday night. The performance was directed by professor Eric Prince and conducted by Music Director of the Fort Collins Symphony Wes Kenney. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)
The University Symphony Orchestra and CSU Theatre perform Every Good Boy Deserves Favor at the University Center for the Arts Thursday night. The performance was directed by professor Eric Prince and conducted by Music Director of the Fort Collins Symphony Wes Kenney. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

After intermission, the show by Stoppard and Previn was performed with the orchestra behind them.

“The ridiculousness of the situation isn’t symbolic it’s because the situation was actually so ridiculous,” said Ryan Volkert a sophomore double majoring in theater and economics, who played Alexander.

This show is about fighting and not backing down in a time of restrictive government. 

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“(My character is) not going to give in, he’s not going to let them win,” said Volkert. “He’s there to prove a point.”

“There’s comedy; there’s music; it’s entertainment,” Volkert said. “But you can try to look at the systemic problems that are inherent in the play and inherent in the time… It’s definitely still

something going on, it’s a lighthearted approach to those really serious issues.”

Collegian reporter Maddie Wright can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @maddierwright.