Fifty years later, SU show goes “Up in Lights, Again”
Fifty years later, SU show goes “Up in Lights, Again”June 02, 2004Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
On June 4, they’re doing it all again.
They are the original cast of “Up in Lights,” the popular student-written and -produced musical revue that debuted May 5, 1954 at the Astor Theater in downtown Syracuse. This June, as part of Reunion Weekend 2004, more than 25 former stagemates and classmates are reuniting 50 years later for a one-time revival, “Up in Lights, Again.”
Many cast members from the class of 1954 will be back on campus to celebrate their 50th Reunion. Additional “Up in Lights” alumni from different classes are also returning from all over the country to sing and dance in this show-including several returnees from last year’s revival show “White Bucks and Tales Revisited.”
The curtain will go up at 8 p.m. in the Goldstein Auditorium, with reunited singers, dancers and actors taking center stage for a variety of routines. With the help of College of Visual and Performing Arts Senior Director of Development Tim Mahar, original “Up in Lights” dancer Joan Litke ’54 has been working with the Office of Alumni Relations for more than a year to organize the cast and production of this year’s show.
“Last year we tried to contact all the “White Bucks” and “Lights” cast members, but couldn’t reach them all. This year, we found more cast members who can return, so that has been a very nice surprise,” says Litke.
Several of the returning cast members have received University awards over the years, including “Outstanding Alumni of the Year” and Arents Medal winners-among them, Kenneth Sparks, who will receive a 2004 Arents Medal.
The original music and lyrics for “Lights” were written by Lan O’Kun ’54 and Bill Angelos ’54. The script was written by Bill Dixon ’54 and Bill Levine ’54, and the show was directed by Jerry Leider ’53. The original cast included nearly 70 performers and had four showings at Astor Theater in May 1954.
“The original show was such great fun,” says Litke. “We had all been together in ‘White Bucks and Tales,’ so ‘Lights’ was an easy transition. The music in ‘Lights’ is a little more swingy and jazzy and upbeat.”
This year, O’Kun returns as the master of ceremonies of the show; he has worked throughout the year to update show’s acts and music. Also returning is Anita Khanzadian ’54, the show’s original choreographer.
According to the original “Up in Lights” program, student revues of the time generally fell into three categories: the local-collegiate revue, drawn almost entirely on life at the University as in “White Bucks and Tales;” a general revue where the subject matter comes from the “world beyond the campus boundaries: politics, literature, topical events of the day;” and those revues, such as “Up in Lights,” that fall somewhere in the middle with “some numbers that belong undeniably to the Syracuse University environment and that would be foreign elsewhere; as well as others that have no local habitation or reference.”
“Up in Lights, Again” is a 45-minute synopsized version of the original show and features singing and dancing ensembles performing numbers such as “Stop, Look and Love your Lady,” “Spaghetti with Betty,” and the famous “Dingleman,” as well as several solo performances. The cast will remain on stage throughout the show.
“Up in Lights Again” will immediately follow the Class of 1954 Golden Anniversary Dinner, with the curtain scheduled to go up at 8 p.m. Balcony seating is available for the University community and the public. For more information, contact Elaine Cardone in Alumni Relations at 443-3516.