The Austin College Music Department will present the one-act opera Speed-Dating Tonight! by Michael Ching. On Friday and Saturday, October 4 – 5, at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, October 6, at 2 p.m., all in Ida Green Communication Center’s Beardsley Arena Theatre. The performances are free and open to the public, though seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The action takes place in an American bar and the activity revolves around a speed dating event. A group gathers and every five minutes, at the sound of a bell, each person meets someone new. In the course of the production, the audience will “meet” the actors gathered as each shares their story through a variety of musical styles. A cast of 22 students and a handful of faculty bring life to the production conceived by Dean Anthony, with words and music by Michael Ching. A duet in the show was specially commissioned for the Austin College production.
Sylvia Rivers, longtime adjunct instructor in the Department of Music, directs the production, with assistance from Wayne Crannell, associate professor of music. Rivers wrote for the program of the production: “This performance is unprecedented in many ways. It marks the first time in over 20 years that we aren’t in Craig Recital Hall for the show. We are so grateful to the Theatre Department for their willingness to host us and to help us get our technical bearings. It has been a great experience for the music students to have the opportunity to work in this space. This is also the first time I have had the opportunity to direct. I saw this opera at Taos Opera Institute in June 2018, and at that time, I thought it could be a good fit for our department. The casting and the voice types are the most flexible of any score with which I have ever worked. I pitched it to Wayne Crannell, my ‘soulmate,’ and we were off and running.”
The two cast the show in May, sent the music out over the summer, and began rehearsals the first week of school. “As many of you know,” Rivers said, “Austin College students are overcommitted and pulled in many directions, and for them to all dedicate valuable time to this project and give it top priority has been thrilling and very rewarding for me. It is with great pride that we present Michael Ching’s Speed Dating Tonight!
Timothy Jenkins is the pianist for the production and assisted with music preparation; Crannell was lighting designer, and Dan Pucul, technical director for Ida Green Communication Center, was the technical advisor. Jessica Healy of the biology faculty, Rivers, and Crannell each have roles in the production.
Students in the cast include:
Cecilia Yip of Colleyville, Texas.