Though they might have gotten only four rehearsals in, it is clear that the School of Music, Theatre & Dance production of “My One and Only” was going to be something special. Directed by Music, Theatre & Dance professor Linda Goodrich, this musical theater piece, set in 1927, tells the fictional story of Capt. Billy Buck Chandler as he prepares to attempt the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. However, he is distracted by falling in love with former English Channel swimmer Edith Herbert. The true stars of the show are the George and Ira Gershwin tunes and the extravagant, tap-focused dance numbers it showcases.
The kind of tap used in this show, called “hoofing,” originated in the Harlem Renaissance, as Goodrich explained to me in an interview with The Daily. What makes it unique is how percussive it is; instead of being all about the style of the upper body, it requires a lot more complicated footwork. The syncopation is part of the “sound” of the show; it is almost an instrument. A production such as this requires a large cast of skilled members, working together in total synchronization to get the timing right. Goodrich described this tap choreography as “rather complex, and really interesting.” In this show, Goodrich would have used the original choreography by Charles “Honi” Coles and Tommy Tune.
While the cast didn’t have a lot of time together to rehearse, a lot had already come together in this short time. By their final rehearsal, the cast even staged the opening of the show. Costume fittings were being done for the cast, including Music, Theatre & Dance junior and dance ensemble member Travis Anderson, while stage manager and Music, Theatre & Dance senior Alaina Galasso had already completed a large amount of paperwork. That’s not to mention all the work put into casting, the one-on-one work the leads had done on their tap dancing or the research required beforehand. There is a lot of work and love that goes into a show before rehearsals even begin. And, especially at this level, even the first rehearsals can be hours long.
Though the plot is a nice, light-hearted distraction from everyday life, this show is more about its delivery than the actual storyline. All this piece could have hoped for was to put a smile on the audience members’ faces and show off the dance skills and vocal chops of those involved. In short, they hoped to create a simple, feel-good production. And who couldn’t use a little hilarity and a lot of beautifully choreographed dance numbers at a time like this?
One of my lasting impressions of the show was the admiration all the people involved had for each other. Galasso voiced her amazement at how quickly all the Music, Theatre & Dancestudents picked up the new dances and pointers they were given. Anderson told me he and the other cast members were sad that the leads had not gotten to perform, as he gushed about how much they deserved it and how talented they were. He spoke fondly of his “wonderful professor, Linda Goodrich.” Goodrich smiled as she told me how incredible her students were, once again praising their skills. They all had such a warm appreciation for everyone’s hard work — it was touching. This was clearly going to be a piece filled with those who loved what they were doing and respected others who possessed that same love. Goodrich said it simply and said it best: “I think our students are so talented.” Smiling, she added, “I’m just so proud and inspired by them everyday.”