Picture this: you’re exiting your linear algebra class with a notebook full of matrices and an aching brain. As you exit Skiles in the direction of the CULC to begin your eight hours of homework, you spot a poster.
Six actors have donned fake beards and cowboy hats, posing with a bright logo: “The Trail to Oregon!”
You dismiss the poster — there are hours of studying ahead of you, and you do not have time to spare.
Except this has been your routine for weeks; every day is a cycle of work and classes with no escape in between.
This is precisely the reason that third-year ID major Hope Kutsche, co-founder of StarTech players and director of “The Trail to Oregon,” wanted to bring this production to campus.
“It’s jam-packed full of good laughs, which I know everyone could use right now, and, for a couple hours, we’ll take you out of the 21st century to a simpler time,” she told the Technique.
“We as a cast really do just love doing this musical together, and I feel like it really shines through in the performance and fills the whole space.”
“The Trail to Oregon” is a comedy musical originally performed and produced by Team StarKid, an American musical theatre company founded by Darren Criss, Brian Holden, Matt Lang and Nick Lang. The company is best known for their production “A Very Potter Musical.”
“I chose a StarKid show because their troupe has a writing style that is great for low budget productions, and their shows are so wonderfully silly and ridiculous,” Kutsche said. “It just seemed like the perfect reprieve from the current state of the world.”
Kutsch was inspired to bring StarTech to life during an arts shortage brought on by the pandemic.
“Sometime last summer, I realized that it’s been years since I’ve performed in a show,” she said. “Musicals used to be my life, but then the pandemic hit. After talking with some friends, I realized we all felt the same way — we really missed opportunities to perform for an audience.”
Kutsch partnered with her friend Harper Roberts, who had originally introduced her to StarKid musicals. Roberts is a third-year biology major at Georgia State University but has been involved with DramaTech since her freshman year.
Together, the pair bought the rights to the show and put together a cast from members of DramaTech’s improv troupe. Every production cost came out of the troupe members’ own pockets.
Despite the shared members and venue, StarTech is not at all affiliated with Tech’s primary theatre troupe.
“We aren’t DramaTech, and we aren’t competing with DramaTech,” Kutsche said. “This year, DT decided to only do two shows instead of our usual three, which gave us a perfect November to January time frame in which to rehearse without overlapping other productions. “When I decided to try and produce a musical, DT also had not yet set in stone whether or not the spring musical would happen, and I wanted my friends and I to have the opportunity with or without DT.”
Unlike other productions on campus, the primary intention of “The Trail to Oregon” was the enjoyment of the cast and crew, rather than to put on a high quality show.
This emphasis on fun brought forth not only a uniquely strong bond among the cast members, but also an engaging and exciting show to watch. “Trail to Oregon” involves the audience in a unique capacity that will leave viewers delighted, relaxed and ready to return to their linear algebra homework.
“The Trail to Oregon” is playing Feb. 4 and 5 at 8 p.m. in the DramaTech Theatre. Tickets are $10 sold at the door. All attendees must be 18+.