SDSU hosts ‘On the Eve’ reading in collaboration with La Jolla Playhouse

by Nicole Sazegar, Staff Writer

“On the Eve” is an indie-rock metaplay that modernizes history. Seth Magill and Shawn Magill of the band, Home by Hovercraft, joined their lyrics and music with Michael Frederico’s book of the same name to create a tongue-in-cheek time-traveling experience.

On Thursday, Nov. 19, La Jolla Playhouse collaborated with San Diego State’s master of fine arts musical theatre program to bring a developmental reading of “On the Eve” to campus.

Set during an apocalypse, “On the Eve” centers on a theater company performing a sci-fi musical about Marie Antoinette’s ill-fated time-traveling hot air balloon.

The antagonist of the story, the Talking Man, attempts to enforce stereotypes of history, but the actors fight to change the story for its last run. Protagonist Chase Spacegrove, inventor Joseph and statue Clio accompany Marie in her adventures. Eventually, the musical within the play spills into the actors’ reality while they attempt to perform their last play in the old, right way.

Audience members are left using their imagination to find the reality within the play, which placed them in a trance-like wonder.

The audience was left in a constant state of shock and awe interrupted with moments of bursting laughter.

“The audience can use their imagination to make up what (the play) will look like,” professor and the play’s musical director Robert Meffe said. “It’s a real fun experience and a unique one for an audience. It’s not what we see in a San Diego theater.”

The reading was done by SDSU’s graduate musical theatre program, and the creators of the play were amazed by each actor’s take on the characters.

“To see people who don’t know us and haven’t been with the show for a year that are just making their own choices with the characters, and it might be something totally different than I ever thought, but we love it,” Frederico said. “I never in a million years would have pictured (each) role played (in such a way) but I love it.”

The Talking Man, played by Randall Eames, was the most vibrant character of the entire play.

While the character was meant to be a dictator type, Eames’ exuberance added to the play’s overall humorous mood.

The hero of the story, Chase Spacegrove, played by Kikau Alvaro, was the perfect comedic relief. In the middle of a revolution, rewriting history and powerful words, Chase was able to lighten a serious tone all while driving the plot.

The actress who played both Simone and Caroline, Jessica Humphrey, did not only sing light and sweet but also strong enough to stand out from the voices of the rest.

“I love watching how much fun they’re having with it,” Shawn Magill said.

The indie-rock songs and ballads written by Shawn and Seth Magill were fun, catchy and powerful.

Songs such as “What Is Most Real,” “Time To Dream” and “Waking Sleep” emphasized the play’s wistful mood, while “Modernized” and “Rocket” aligned with the play’s modern rock vibe.

The boisterous laughter and gasps of the audience revealed that the multi-layered experience of “On the Eve” would be the best way to go out if they were to see one last play before the world ended. Keep an eye out for “On the Eve” as it continues to develop.