It’s fun and artistic. It has great talent, humor, music, singing, and dancing and, since proceeds go to help veterans, it also has an element of service. It’s Corps of Cadets: The Musical.
It will debut at Texas A&M University May 1 with two performances at 2pm and 7pm in Rudder Auditorium.
Sponsored by The Mugdown, Texas A&M’s satirical newspaper, the original, first-run musical will feature talent, choreography, and acting from the overall student body as well as members of the Corps of Cadets.
Benjamin R. Dierker, the musical’s producer, explains how it all came about.
“A cadet, Rob Bannon, suggested the idea then followed up by writing the script and directing the production,” notes Dierker. “He is a senior in the corps and it took him three months to write it. Song lyrics were written by the musical’s staff and set to music the audience will recognize.”
So where did Bannon get the idea? “In all honesty, the musical originated as a joke posted on Facebook,” Bannon says. “It caught a lot of attention, and my friends begged me to make it a reality.”
He adds that even though he tried to push aside the idea as nonsense and completely impossible, he couldn’t stop his mind from being flooded with visions of tap-dancing cadets, entranced in a musical number.
“I began drafting a script with no serious intention of staging an actual production, but after reaching out to The Mugdown and receiving their full support, the idea didn’t seem so far-fetched after all. I suddenly recognized its potential to be an exciting event for the Aggie community as well as an opportunity to raise money for causes that I am personally passionate about,” Bannon explains.
Corps of Cadets: The Musical just seems to be such a contradiction that most people thought it was a joke. “The journey from an off-hand joke to a poster flashing across Rudder Auditorium’s TV screens has been surreal to say the least,” Bannon says.
“I’m really looking forward to proving the naysayers and doubters wrong once they witness the breadth of talent onstage. Despite its status as an agricultural and mechanical college, Texas A&M does not suffer from a shortage of artistically/musically/theatrically gifted individuals.”
Bannon notes that during auditions, he and Dierker noticed a common theme on students’ applications: they had been involved in musical theater throughout high school, but set it aside when they came to Texas A&M.
Every student brought a unique set of abilities to the table – tap dancing, playing an instrument, performing acrobatic stunts – and Bannon says he tried to incorporate as many as possible into the show. In addition, he notes the talent showcased in this production extends beyond the actors and actresses featured on stage.
“I had a terrific team working behind the scenes, specializing in areas that I could not handle myself. For example, all of the visual designs used in our marketing have come from visualization students in architecture.”
Bannon says it has been a joy witnessing the cast bring his words to life, adding a layer of humor and depth to the writing through their interpretations.
“Sometimes in rehearsal, a line that I had not originally envisioned as being humorous would have me on the ground bawling with laughter because of how the actor/actress said it.”
The program has received support from President Michael K. Young. Dierker says the production costs are being partially offset by support authorized by Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp and Commandant of the Corps of Cadets Brigadier Gen. Joe Ramirez.
“We hope to get a good turn-out because the more people who attend, the more money we can give to support veterans.”
He adds that the production has three main goals and, because many of the students involved have family who have served in the military or are serving now, supporting veterans is one of them. The other two include highlighting student talent – the production is written, produced, and performed by students “except for one performer who is a professor” – and, finally, to bring students and the community together for a fun time.
The professor is Keith Swim, a clinical associate professor of management, and the other performers include the former and current student body presidents and the former corps commander, Dierker adds.
Student organizers say the corps-themed musical is a great opportunity to bring the community onto campus, enjoy the arts, and support our veterans. Tickets are on sale now for $10 at the MSC Box Office. For ticket inquiries, contact the MSC Box Office at (979) 845-1234.
Photo Courtesy of The Mugdown Facebook Page