Coming Together: Behind the scenes of the spring musical revue

Caryl Anne Francia, Business Editor

Dedicating their evenings from early March through spring break, Baruch College students harmonized like angels during rehearsals inside the Lawrence & Eris Field Building’s Bernie West Theatre. Brimming with energy, these performers will showcase their talents in a one-hour musical revue titled “Come Together,” which will run from April 26 to April 30 at 7:30 p.m.

After original plans to produce licensed book musicals fell through, director and theatre professor Dominique Plaisant sought to bring to life a performance she always had in mind: telling the stories of New Yorkers connecting.

“It’s a slice of life in New York City,” Plaisant told The Ticker in an interview. “There’s this girl and cafe over here, there’s this guy over there. There’s a little bit of isolation. You’re going to be invited into our stories and see how we make connections.”

The revue stars Eunice Ban, Jasmine Belis, Jamiel Tako Burkhart, Rebecca DiSaverio and Ilana Sedaka as themselves. Assistant director Rupali Begum, who performed in last semester’s musical, “And Then There Was Us,” also dances in the show.

Since starting production, the cast and crew have become close enough for Belis to consider them a “second family.”

“Usually in the productions, we have like a 50-member ensemble,” Belis, who also performed in spring 2021’s online “Baruch on Broadway” performance, told The Ticker in an interview. “That’s not even including the leads a lot of the time, so this is definitely more intimate, smaller and we had less time to put it together.”

The revue also featured music director Benjamin Balatbat on piano and Leo Yucht on drums. The show’s popular song selection was designed to let each performer sing about who they are, as if each song was a monologue. Performers were assigned songs by Plaisant and choreographer Danny Durr after they assessed each performer’s abilities during auditions.

Since Baruch allows graduates to perform in productions, Belis was ecstatic to return to an in-person production.

“The fact that we get to do this now is very special because it’s almost three years since we’ve been in a real-life production where people can see, feel the energy and clap,” she said. “We haven’t had that in a very long time.”

A day before opening night, Kyle Morales, who was part of the original cast, was suddenly dropped after testing positive for the coronavirus. Consequently, the “We Are Young” number was cut and Ban rehearsed Morales’ “Invisible” solo until the last minutes before opening night.

As a senior who transferred to Baruch shortly before the pandemic, Morales expressed frustration in the college’s lack of “emphasis on the arts.” Finding out about auditions for this show late, he was glad to be involved, even twisting his knee in the process.

“We’re sharing a lot of current music that people relate to today, and something that the show has taught me is to definitely be present in the moment when it comes to daily life activities,” Morales told The Ticker over the phone. “Just appreciate life and live in the moment because you’ll definitely be a lot happier than falling on the past or being afraid of the future.”

The set design features illustrations of the city skyline. Visual projections for the revue are provided by student Kevin Gaddi. As an aspiring filmmaker, he is glad to showcase his work, as well as his love for Washington Square Park.

“We’re trying to convey the message of connecting and developing relationships as human beings, especially during difficult periods such as the one we’re going through right now in the midst of COVID and the war in Ukraine, so the play is supposed to feel pretty escapist and fun,” he told The Ticker in an email statement.

With just a few hours before the opening performance, Plaisant said the audience should not expect chaos, rather excitement coming from a cast that has been supportive of each other throughout the journey.

“It’s no fun being safe on stage,” Plaisant said. “Safe isn’t exciting. You want to be bold because the audience doesn’t know what to expect. It’s exciting that [the cast is] excited and they love working. For me, that’s the beauty of it.”

Attendees may register for free tickets through Eventbrite and must be vaccinated. After being greeted by an usher into the theater, they must wear masks while seated.

“Do you like music? Do you like pop and rock music, specifically? Do you love to watch people come together? Then come see ‘Come Together!’” Bellis said.

Editor’s Note: Rebecca DiSaverio, who performs in the production, is a photographer for The Ticker.