SMC's 'American Reflections' Climaxes Their Tour with a Spectacular Performance
Not a single note was lost in translation as Santa Monica College's highly anticipated production "American Reflections: Broadway in Concert" finally made its way to a sold-out crowd at Shandong University in Jinan, China, showcasing an electrifying medley of unique Americana that left the crowd, as Elvis would say "All shook up."
From the opening number "It's a Grand Night for Singing" to "Little Shop of Horrors," Thursday was a night of incessant gasps and awe from their audience who became elated with every costume change.
"Go bigger" explained cast mate Kendall Lewis before the show which seemed to be the appropriate theme for the troupe's final performance of their ambitious revue.
It seemed those in attendance stuck the adage too as they bopped their heads, hollered and gyrated in their seats causing a frenzy over Alex Edlefsen's take on Elvis Presley.
Judging by their reactions, one would convincingly give in to the folklore that Presley still lives.
And so went the show, from Dolly Parton to Dr. Seuss and those jellicle cats, every high note from such powerhouse tunes like "I'm a Woman" and "Defying Gravity" was matched by thunderous applause.
"It's perfect," said Shandong student Wang Wei, whose American name is Noelle. "It's very great. We've never seen anything like that before," she said despite the fact that she had already seen the show twice before during the dress and light rehearsals that Wednesday which were open to students who weren't able to obtain tickets for Thursday's formal opening.
And like Wei, many students present that night too had been present for the rehearsals, which were also full houses despite expectations. "This is the first time for most of us," she said explaining how at Shandong the students are only exposed to traditional Chinese music and theater as opposed to the pop fusion of "American Reflections."
Perfect seemed to be the word of the night as most students answered when asked their thoughts on the show which ended with a rollicking standing ovation and several students going up on stage to present several of the cast with bouquets of flowers.
"I think the Chinese like us," quipped Remy Remigio. Like, the cast would soon find is an understatement for how incredibly well the show was received. The near hysteria of students bum-rushing the stage requesting pictures and autographs from the likes of Frankenstein and Cinderella when recognizing the actors who played the iconic figures, harkened the days of Beatlemania minus the Fab 4. The Fab. 18 is more like it.
"It was received better than any of my wildest expectations," said Randal Lawson, executive vice president at SMC, as the ubiquitous peace signs were thrown up by the hordes of students taking pictures with the casts.
However, flashes from cameras became the norm for every performance as most in attendance enthusiastically clutched their camera phones to record and capture the show's highlights.
"They're happy campers," said Leanne Tallis. "Happy audiences make for a happy performer and vice-versa," she said.
"I had to roll around on the floor a lot more in China than in America," said Justin Braun, whose "Tear Jerk" was cheered as a piece of thespian bravado. "It was still a good time," assured Braun.
With the spotlight off them but the glow of stardom following their every move, the cast of "American Reflections: Broadway in Concert" and all involved including musicians, instructors and technicians became the overnight sensations of China. A point made evident as cheering fans mobbed the cast out by the exit to take pictures with them by their very own billboards.
By night's end, an indelible connection had been made between SMC and Shandong which as the closing lyrics of "Defying Gravity" suggests would never bring them down.
"I think this is this is going to be the first of many things we are going to do together," said Lawson. "I see a lot of possibilities."