The audience is seated, and the band sits at the ready. The stage is bathed in a bright light, and the set transports those in attendance out of the forest, and across the Hudson, to the big, bright and bold New York City. The room buzzes in anticipation, waiting for the performance of “Fly By Night” to begin.
Many went in having no idea what to expect. “‘Fly By Night?’ Is that about nocturnal birds?” or “Isn’t ‘Fly By Night’ the name of that song from the 70s?” being some of the confused sentiments uttered while pondering the musical. However, once the band struck up, the lights dimmed, and the cast came on stage, all misconceptions were gone. The audience was drawn into the enchanting story of two sisters from South Dakota trying to make it in the Big Apple and their encounters with a ‘luckless sandwich maker’ and other interesting and eccentric characters.
The beautiful environment the production team created and the exuberance the performers exhibited were deeply affecting. Come intermission, the audience sat with stars in their eyes, enraptured by the whole show.
In order for the show to be as successful as it is, a herculean amount of work took place. Director Michelle Taliento (’17) described some of the challenges associated with directing “Fly By Night”. “Directing a musical is tough! I have no dance background, so choreographing everything myself was a real challenge.” He elaborated more on the difficulties, saying, “This show also moves in and out of time really rapidly, so making sure the audience understood what was happening was important to me. I had so much support from my stage management team (Haviland Atha-Simonton, Emma Rucci and Alison O’Brien) and my music director (Marley Amico) that I never felt alone or overwhelmed by the challenge”.
Cast and crew alike agreed that the process was an incredibly rewarding one. Taliento stated, “The most rewarding part is getting to work with actors who are just as invested in the story as you. I am so lucky to have a cast of seven very talented artists who really care about what they do. The difficult parts just come in putting [the show] all together with technical elements.” He also admitted, “We are still adding cues today, when we open in just a few hours! That’s the nature of theatre. You have to always be on your toes. Fly By Night taught me a valuable lesson in that every second counts.”
Jill Canal (‘19), one of the musical’s stars, whose enthusiasm in the role of Miriam brought the production to a new level, added to Taliento’s words. “The process has been extremely amazing. Everyone involved with the production had such a positive energy and impact. Going to rehearsal is the highlight of my day! I love everyone and have enjoyed the process more than anything.” She noted that the people she worked with made the experience unforgettable. “I will take a lot away from this process, but if I had to pick one it would be experiencing such a wonderful production with such wonderful people I will have in my life forever.”
So, if you have not yet had a chance to bear witness to this amazing and enchanting show, get yourself down to the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre. The show is playing Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm, as well as an additional Saturday showing at 2pm. Tickets are $5 for Drew students and $10 for everyone else. Don’t miss out on seeing “Fly By Night”.