Photo by Madison Meyer
Harding University’s annual Homecoming musical premieres tonight in Benson Auditorium, continuing a homecoming tradition that has been in place since 1970. This year’s show is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.”
Ben Jones, director of the show and assistant professor of theatre, said he chose “Cinderella” because of its message of positive change.
“That concept of changing the world is something that we emphasize with our theatre students in our department, and I think Harding as a University emphasizes with our students that you have the power and the responsibility to make positive changes in the world,” Jones said.
Students will perform “Cinderella” tonight and Saturday night at 8 p.m. The show stars senior Asher Patten as Prince Christopher, junior Emma Myhan as Cinderella and senior Jonna Fields as the Fairy Godmother. Myhan said the cast is talented and has a variety of experience and that they also gelled and trusted each other throughout the rehearsal process.
“I think that we’re going to be able to bring a really good show because of those things,” Myhan said.
Senior Nicole Randall, associate set designer, led visual research, script analysis and paint color treatments of the set. Set design students in previous years have taken responsibility for specific, almost finalized designs designated by a supervisor, but Randall has had more influence on the final design of the set than students in previous years. She designed much of the set the audience will see, according to Britton Lynn, set designer and professor of theatre.
“Britt Lynn and I are proud of what we have conceptualized, even if small bits and pieces of that don’t make it to the stage for whatever reason,” Randall said. “I’m proud of the vision that we have.”
This year’s show will include the most LED panels used in a Homecoming musical, which will display lights and live images.
“We’ve definitely been ambitious with this set and with this show,” Randall said.
Jones began the process of selecting a Homecoming musical in November 2021. Jones said he researched multiple potential stories, and after selecting the fairytale classic “Cinderella,” he reviewed various scripts until selecting Rodgers and Hammerstein’s, which he said is engaging to modern audiences.
“[Rodgers and Hammerstein] really do a nice job of bringing it out in this story that is about having the power to change not only your own situation but to have influence in order to change the world around you,” Jones said.
Myhan said “Cinderella” has been challenging and that she had to learn how to transition from smaller stages to a larger one like the Benson. Aside from a production she participated in as a child, this will be her first musical performance on the Benson stage.
“Even before day one of classes, we were on the stage and working to make this show ready for Homecoming weekend,” Jones said. “I think the audience will be amazed by the talent and the hard work that was put into the show by the students.”
Students will perform “Cinderella” Friday and Saturday nights, along with a children’s matinee on Monday. Tickets may be purchased at https://www.harding.edu/events/homecoming.