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Live music creates haunting atmosphere in upcoming theatre production (video)

November 4, 2012

Student musicians will be providing live musical accompaniment for the fall production of The Lady from the Sea, a play written by Henrik Ibsen in a version by Pam Gams.

The play, which is set in Norway at the end of the 19th century, follows the story of Ellida, a woman who is hopelessly in love with the sea. Despite her husband’s desperate attempts to cure her obsession, Ellida finds it increasingly difficult to resist the ocean’s magnetic pull. When a stranger from the past unexpectedly shows up, Ellida is forced to choose between a life at sea or a life on land.

Lady from the sea set 

Music for the production will be performed live during the show by The Saltwater Trio, which includes Musical Director Eva Herndon’13, Chloe Bell’15, and Molly Wells’13. Lucy Holden’16 will be playing violin prior to the show.

The singers will underscore the show and perform sea-shanty-inspired folk songs between scenes. As the story unfolds on stage, the trio creates a hauntingly beautiful, sometimes chilling backdrop that sets the tone for the aquatic tale. (Hear a clip of their performance here.)

Choosing which songs to include in the production and how to incorporate them into the story has been an intensive process. Eva’s criteria were to find songs that students wouldn’t already know and that don’t mention specific places. After poring through databases of shanties and folk songs, she selected a compilation that she felt best embodied the character of the sea.

Though the process involved some collaboration with director John Kaufmann, the trio has had a lot of freedom in matching the music to the script. “We’ve sort of been given free rein which is exciting for us as musicians,” says Eva. “It’s cool to have the opportunity to make our own interpretation of the script.”

Through this process the play and the score have become entwined to the point that actors and musicians take cues from each other. “This is the first time I’ve had such a big stake in a production,” says Eva of her role as musical director. “But I am thrilled and very excited to be a part of it.”

The Lady from the Sea premieres Thursday (Nov. 8) at 8 p.m. in the Neese Theatre. Admission is $8.50 ($5 for seniors and faculty, $4 for students).The box office is open Monday through Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and you can order tickets over the phone by calling (608) 363-2755.