Every year, Dartmouth Professor Emeritus Andrew Garrod brings his decades of theater experience and a Herculean level of energy to Majuro to direct a theater production. This year is no exception. He is currently several weeks into directing the musical The Music Man — described in a theater review as a “musical masterpiece.”
But Garrod would be the first to acknowledge the many people who contribute to making the plays happen. Each year, he recruits Dartmouth students who bring skills and enthusiasm to the production.
This year, Dartmouth juniors Tyler Malbareaux and Summer Cody are in town for 10 weeks working with Garrod on the play. And in a week, long-time Majuro resident Bonny Taggart will join the play team as its producer.
Malbreaux is a history major at Dartmouth who also writes for the university’s daily student newspaper, The Dartmouth. He came to know Garrod last year because he is contributing a chapter to an anthology of essays by African American Dartmouth students and graduates that Garrod is editing. Garrod also edited a recently published book, “I am where I come from,” a collection of essays by Native American graduates of Dartmouth talking about their life experiences.
Garrod invited Malbreaux to join this year’s theater production team in the Marshall Islands and the Dartmouth junior, who hails from Louisiana, jumped at the unique opportunity.
Malbreaux is assistant producer for The Music Man — a position that means he’ll be doing a little of everything to make it happen, from working with students to eliminate shyness so they perform their parts to handling a hundred logistical needs of the production as the early March performance nears.
Cody is music director for the play and it would be difficult to imagine a person more suited to this role. She acted in The Music Man during high school, performing as part of a barbershop quartet in the production. She is a skilled singer, who grew up in a musically inclined household. Both her parents are musicians, her father a pianist and her mother a singer and actress.
When Garrod told her about the musical director opportunity, “it was what I wanted to do,” she said with enthusiasm for being here. She was initially struck by how quiet most students were during the auditions earlier this month. In contrast, she said, “in the US, people at rehearsals are boisterous and enthusiastic.” She said she has had to work harder with the students to tease out the talent. “You can see the kids really want to be there, but they’re just nervous.”
Over 40 young people are now rehearsing daily at Marshall Islands High School in preparation for staging the play the first week of March.
With Garrod, Marlbreaux and Cody — and Taggart soon to join them — local students have an expert and enthusiastic group urging them onward.
Read more about this in the January 25, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.