Project 2: Find Your Light

Note: So I hate writing these reviews after the show ends because then I just feel bad because I’m basically telling everyone who didn’t go about how great it was and how they missed out big time. I guess my only piece of advice in this situation is try not to miss awesome performances?

Over the weekend, a group called The Actual Performance Theatre Company presented “Project 2: Find Your Light”. The ensemble consisted of all current and former Winthrop students which took place at the Gettys Art Center Courtroom in Downtown Rock Hill. Apparently, I have really bad vision or a disease where I just don’t read things carefully enough, but I guess I didn’t realize that this wasn’t an actual play when I went to see it. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to witness a sort of simply (but beautifully) dramatized “jam-session”, for lack of better words and there probably are better words to describe it but currently I don’t have those words. Along with the surprise of a jam-session (not a play), I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that all the proceeds of this program were going to a non-profit organization called TWLOHA (also a surprise due to my non-careful reading of the beautifully created fliers which obviously stated this fact). If you’ve never come in contact with this organization, it stands for “To Write Love On Her Arms”, and it aims to bring awareness to those struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury and provide help. And, I want to commend the entire ensemble of Project 2 for bringing forth a program that actually talked about these issues and brought to light an organization like TWLOHA.

You may be thinking, I came to Her Campus just to read a simple article and now I’m being hit with serious issues, did I take a wrong turn somewhere? But, not to worry, the same realization hit me when I walked into the center and actually read the program thoroughly. While I know serious topics like these have to be brought up and talked about, my problem is that I’m an emotional child. And there was a man with a camera right next to me so I worried that my loud sobs would drown out his recording if all I was being presented were sad songs about very serious issues. Thankfully though, director and producer, Jonathan Hoskins and Jonathon Long, assured us at the beginning of the performance that we would be viewing not just heart-wrenching and serious performances, but also entertaining and humorous performances, which is how I kind of hope you view this article.

I’m just going to list some of my favorite numbers and why, even though I loved every single one. The performers for each number weren’t exactly listed in the program, so I’m going to try to go off memory and what I could find out, bear with me. And again, if I get anything wrong, just correct me. It happens more times than not, trust me. Also, if a song you performed isn’t mentioned, don’t worry. All the performances had me laughing/tearing up/or both so you won me over no worries. But here's some “fun reviews” of more people who are way more talented than I am: 

1) Flight: Craig Carneila

Okay, someone tell me how I kept my heavy tears throughout the entire program in check. Maybe I ran out of avaliable tears allowed to me for the week because it was already Saturday or I was just scared out of my mind about my sobs being full blast on the guy’s recording next to me, but all I know is I’m glad I did because if not THIS would have been the song that took me down. Not only were the two girls voices INCREDIBLE (Hannah Hustad and Amanda Britt - I believe), the movement was so simplistic, it was kind of like I was watching real life angels.

2) First Date/Last Night: Dogfight

I felt like this performance was the first that allowed me to really laugh. The awkwardness and clumsiness reminded me of my own life, and what’s better to laugh at than your own self? Plus the two leads, Taylor Neal and Tim McFall, were not only both awkwardly charming, adorable, and relatable, but they both had incredible singing voice, of course (I’m saying this with an eye-roll not because I’m annoyed but I am because I keep thinking about how good they were and how none of that kind of talent was gifted my way)

3) Wilson: Fugitive Songs - A Song Cycle

So of course this wasn’t a play like I thought, so the acting wasn’t necessarily the most complex, but man did I enjoy the acting out of this song. Wilson, played by I believe Sean Rodriguez, was acted out hilariously while the rest of the performers of the number somehow kept their composure to sing the song perfectly. But I guess after performing a number so many times it gets less funny, though I’d like to think it was just as amusing for the performers this time as it was the first time they performed it because I definitely was laughing perhaps a little too loudly the entire time.

4) How to Return Home: Our First Mistake

I don’t even know if I remember what the lyrics to this song were or what it was even about (even though the title is kind of obvious so I guess my hyperbole is evident) but all I know is I CANNOT get over the singing of this song. The solo was done by Lauren Roberts. She DESERVES full credit for this performance. I didn’t know someone could have such an interesting and spot-on singing voice, but man does she! I literally could not get over how much I loved her voice, it was just so pleasant and enjoyable to listen to. I feel like seeing Beyonce in concert would be equivalent to how it felt listening to her sing, it was just that good. I feel like now I’m being super over praise-y and creepy but I honestly really enjoyed this performance, I’m sorry.

5) I Think I Got You Beat: Shrek the Musical

So even if you don’t believe that Shrek is love, Shrek is life, you would have enjoyed this performance (also I hope you get that Shrek reference or this is just weird and you can pretend that I didn’t type that). But, honestly, I enjoyed the overall playfulness of this piece. The performers, Emily Cupit and Sean Rodriguez, were adorable and immensely enjoyable to watch. Plus, they seemed to interact really well with each other onstage which added to the overall pleasantness, and no one’s that good of an actor. But then again they are actors so what do I even know. Also, I really enjoyed the rest of the crew “fighting” it out in the background. And now I think I’ve overused how many times I can use the word “enjoyed” in one paragraph. I guess I should go over my effective use of synonyms.

6) (The Finale) Mad World: Wise Guys, Sing About Me: Kendrick Lamar, Let the Sunshine In: Hair

So if you know me, you know that Mad World is the song that just makes me cry no matter what. The lyrics just do something to me, so I did end up tearing up a bit during this song, which was song beautifully by Shivam Patel and Brandon Byron, who also played guitar for this song and others. BUT, I feel like I hid it well so no worries. But the whole cast came in for a beautifully choreographed, not “dance” per say, but like movement or something. I don’t know, whatever it was, it was simplistic, powerful and moving. 

Sing About Me was that performance you SURE missed out on if you didn’t come to see Project 2. Jonathan Hoskins and Brandon Byron provided insane vocals (and I use insane in the hip way that now is no longer hip since I used the word hip), while rapping was done by Jonathon Long and Sean Rodriguez. And I don’t know what it is about someone just saying something really fast with cool rhymes, but when you put rap and beautiful vocals together, I lose it. Overall, production-wise and vocal-wise, this was definitely my favorite performance. I hope someone recorded it because everyone should see it. Plus, Jonathon Long and Sean Rodriguez inserted their own work in the production of this song which just shoots their talent level to heights I am unworthy of. Also, let’s give it up for Wesslen Romano, who not only provided the drum beat for this piece, but almost all of the other pieces, as well. He was amazing.

Finally, Let the Sunshine In beautifully (I’ve now exhausted my use of this word too, I apologize) wrapped up the show with the whole cast gathered and singing. I may have cried on this song too, I don’t remember, but only because I was sad the show was ending (and also I’m an emotional mess and this song was so good).

So if you missed Project 2, you missed a phenomenal performance that tackled an array of different songs that discussed serious issues. It was beautifully done and I commend the whole cast and crew. I don’t really know how these things work or if there’s going to be like a Project 3 or 4 or 25, but if there is, I wouldn’t dare miss it, and you shouldn’t either.

Also, be sure to check out TWLOHA’s organization at http://www.twloha.com/ and tell others about it.