by Simon de Carvalho '14
The world of sports (something we here at the Arts Beat obviously know a great deal about) is often dangerous, filled with injuries and fights and a prevailing sense of brutality.
But who knew the most dangerous sport of all would be something as innocent looking as the childhood game Rock Paper Scissors? It’s true! At least according to those behind this year’s Freshman Musical, Rock Paper Kill Me, the mystery of a murder at an international Rock Paper Scissors competition.
The Froshical, as it is affectionately referred to, was written, produced, directed, staffed and acted by an all-freshman team, and opens tonight at 7 pm at the Agassiz Theatre; it will run through Sunday, May 1. Tickets are available at the Harvard Box Office or at the door.
RPS, as it is referred to throughout the show, is "a sport not a game," as one of the lyrics reminds. Eric Brewster ’14, who wrote the book for the show, said he wanted the musical to tell the story of "an unorthodox competition ready-made with a wild set of characters. But the competition had to be able to play out on a live stage and require a skill that any actor could do with ease. RPS fit the mold perfectly."
Both Brewster and Dylan Nagler ’14, who composed the score for the Froshical, said he had no prior experience in creating a musical. Nagler has had plenty of experience performing and knows a thing or two about instrumentation, but he has never written a show.
As such, the creative process was also something of a learning process. The team had some help along the way from Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist Maury Yeston, who visited Harvard in the fall and sat down with Brewster, Nagler and lyricist Lynne Peskoe ’14 to talk about their show.
"Maury Yeston not only provided us with our title," said Nagler, "but also gave us insight into how writing musicals works in the real world."
"From there on out," said Brewster, "it was all fun and games. Mostly Rock Paper Scissors."
The essential part of Froshical each year is the community it builds among freshmen involved in the arts at Harvard. Nagler said it "instilled a strong sense of collaboration amongst peers. Froshical was extremely special in that we were given complete freedom over everything from content to budgeting, and as a result, the show is just quirky enough to represent the various and ample talents that went into its production."
Brewster agreed: "The great part about the Freshman musical is that it introduces you to the people you’ll be working with in Harvard theater for the rest of your time here."
He added: "Sophomore Opera, anyone?"