Festival of Music performs for students

Published 11:30 pm Saturday, April 26, 2008

What happens when five people get stuck on the train in New York City? If you’re unsure, ask a local schoolchild.

As a part of the Natchez Festival of Music, a group of professional operatic singers has been performing a condensed version “G Train: the Musical” for local school groups.

Part Vangelis soundtrack, part classical opera and part high-energy hip-hop, “G Train: the Musical” was inspired by the three daily rides composer Christian McLear took on the G Train from Brooklyn to Queens.

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“I looked around and there were all of these bizarre characters on the train every day, and so I began to talk it over with Monica Harte (the show’s director) and our other partner, and we started writing it,” McLear said.

During the musical, the characters — Jim the Wall Street stockbroker, Mark the rapper, Mary the mother of two, Steve the panhandler and Patricia the judge — get stuck on the train and, though they don’t get along at first, eventually become friends.

“We are all coming from all different walks of life, and through the course of the show we all realize that even though we’re all different, we’re all people,” said Sable Rivera, who plays Mary. “It’s like a microcosm of the real world.”

And part of that microcosm is conflict.

“There’s one point where Hilerie Klein-Rensi, who plays the judge, and I get into a fight, and the kids at the performances really liked that part,” said David Schnell, who plays Mark.

The all-electronic music show has a lot of contemporary music influences, but it’s more than that, Klein-Rensi said.

“It has some familiar areas that the kids will know, but it expands and stretches like complex music,” she said.

The production has ties to the Natchez Festival of Music that go back a decade.

“About 10 years ago I did a role for the festival, and a couple of years later I did another role,” Harte said. “I’ve just kind of kept in touch since then.”

The performers have thus far done all of their shows at Braden Auditorium, but this week they will take the show on the road to area schools.

Other cast members include Donald Groves as Jim and Daniel Petit as Steve.