092209voxtheatre_9694By Tim O’Keefe

Worcester Polytechnic Institute may be better known for producing engineers and mathematicians, but with its upcoming production of the Broadway classic South Pacific, brought to you by WPI’s musical theatre group VOX, you may begin to see the school in a whole new light.
“I am very excited about bringing one of the classics to the stage for the WPI community,” says John Delorey, the show’s musical director. “This is a lush score, and we are blessed with fantastic singers and a full orchestra, comprised of student players.”
The show runs Sept. 24-26.
“I am looking forward to showing our audience a new way of looking at South Pacific,” says Director and Choreographer Kristy Chambrelli. “Most people know the music and consider the book to be dated and un-relatable. Our goal is to show our audience that these themes still exist today. The names and faces may have changed, but there is still a lot of racism and prejudice in the world.”092209voxtheatre_9693
If you find it odd that a school like WPI would have such a thriving musical theatre group, think again.

“WPI has a long tradition of performance groups,” says executive producer Thomas L. Collins III. “Our men’s Glee Club has been around for 135 years this year (founded in 1874). We also have a strong women’s chorale, Alden Voices, as well as three a cappella groups.”
VOX, (Latin for “voice”) was officially recognized by the Student Organization Council in October of 2008, but has had a long journey to get to where it is today.
“VOX began more as an idea than an organization,” says Collins. “It was a desire to bring musical theatre to WPI’s campus. In the spring of 2004, the WPI Vocal Performance Lab — an auditioned chamber group — undertook staging a production of Professor John Delorey’s Witchwife, and over the next year the plans would be put in place to stage another production, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. And in 2008 a number of the veteran students looked to have our group officially recognized as a student organization on campus.”
Those involved with South Pacific say there has been an enormous amount of work and effort put into the performance.
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“This show is emotionally and physically draining for many of our principle characters,” says Chambrelli. “Nellie Forbush, played by Emilia Martini, in particular goes on such a rollercoaster-like journey as she moves through the course of the show. It has been a pleasure to see the transformation in some of these students in such a short period of time.”
Delorey says one of the most rewarding aspects of doing theater at WPI is talking to the audience after a show. “Most are dumb-struck when they realize that these students on stage and backstage are all engineers. It’s a great feeling to watch these students realize such potential in areas far afield from their courses of study at the university.”
South Pacific, Sept. 24-26 at 8 p.m. at WPI’s Alden Memorial, 100 Institute Road, Worcester. $15 general admission/$10 students and seniors. wpi.edu.

All photos by Brittany Durgin

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