BANNER ELK – Lees-McRae Theater Arts will bring Hildegard von Bingen’s origin story to life by performing “In the Green”, an eclectic and avant-garde musical by Grace McLean.
“In the Green,” which made its Broadway debut in 2019, is a one-act musical with a book, music and lyrics by McLean. The show tells the story of von Bingen, one of the most powerful and creative women in medieval history who became a healer, composer, exorcist and, ultimately, a saint.
“In the Green” will be performed in the Hayes Auditorium, Broyhill Theater at 7:30 pm Wednesday through Friday, November 10-12, and at 2:00 pm Saturday, November 13. Tickets are free and seats are general admission. Some rows will be closed to allow for social distancing.
“In the Green” begins with von Bingen locked in a cell with his mentor, Jutta. Joshua Yoder, director of entertainment and director of theater arts, expects the show to appeal to students of musical theater and religious studies.
“We have this well-known character from the Middle Ages, and people who know who he is will come here,” Yoder said.
“In the Green” features a female cast of five college students comprised of Audrey Nidiffer, Allison Dion, Hannah Wilcox, Sydney Lyles and Annabella Mitchell. Nidiffer, Dion and Wilcox will team up to play different versions of von Bingen while Lyles will play Jutta and Mitchell will play the role of Shadow. The actresses will use puppets and rhythmic speeches to convey emotions and tell the story.
Yoder said that in the show’s 90-minute run, there are about less than five minutes that aren’t set to music.
“It’s practically an operetta. There are times when there is no melody but they speak in rhythm and there is percussion to go with it, ”said Yoder. “We’re always talking to get something. They find ways to both get the beat and communicate those things that the characters are trying to achieve.
Yoder said students had to learn to take control of their processes, adding that it was essential to work outside of rehearsals.
“Music is so difficult,” he said. “It’s complex. As an actor, whether you’re in screenplays or musicals, the expectation is that you rehearse but also work on material outside of rehearsals and bring ideas to the table. I think they are working hard on this.
The original off-Broadway production of “In the Green” won a Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater and several Lucille Lortel Awards. Yoder said that the performance of the unique and praised musical allows students to learn about something different and broaden their ideas of what a musical can be.
“It’s such a flex for all of us,” Yoder said. “I’ve never worked on something like this and I don’t think any of the students or designers have done it either. We’ve done some adventurous things before, but it’s a different ball game.
Members of the public are required to wear face coverings regardless of their immunization status.