On July 2, the lights at the Hippodrome Theater went out to reveal a single quote spread across the side screens.
“Blossom beautiful, dangerous, loud. Bloom gently. However you need it, just bloom. “
The quote from the poet Rupi Kaur was just one of many mantras that were shown in the entire show “It’s A Woman’s World”.
The show featured a number of hits from female artists over the centuries, performed by some of the hippodrome cast members. As a celebration of female empowerment, it ran July 1-3 and was part of the hippodrome’s return to live shows.
Sheryl Sanberg, Michelle Obama and other prominent women were quoted by the cast between songs as agents for a show centered on love, friendship and female strength.
With the Hippodrome actors Kelly Atkins Morgan, Savannah Simmerly and Zöe Wilde, “It’s A Woman’s World” presented songs by some of the most famous artists in pop culture. The line-up included modern hits from singers like Kacey Musgraves and Lady Gaga, as well as songs from musicals like “Sister Act” and “Fugitive Songs”.
Stephanie Lynge, the Artistic Director of the Hippodrome, said that this combination of classic and modern was aimed at engaging audiences, ideally returning to old favorites and inspiring new discoveries.
“It’s a nice mix of things people recognize and things they may not have heard, but they will likely look up when they leave,” said Lynge.
“It’s A Woman’s World” has been conceived as a “celebration in song” by women over the years, Lynge said. The show aimed to highlight not only female singers and songwriters over the centuries, but the women performing as well.
Lynge said the timing of the show – the weekend of July 4th along with the ongoing emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic – is perfect for highlighting the company’s female performers.
“After the pandemic, we’re celebrating America, we’re celebrating women,” she said.
Clara Kelly, the costume designer at the hippodrome, said the female setlist struck a nerve with her when she saw the performance. Kelly and her boyfriend Jordan Wiedenbaum cheered from the crowd all night, saying the show strengthened them.
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“The songs are all feminine and specifically related to topics that women have, so it’s very personal to all of the women in the audience, I suppose,” said Kelly.
The weekend performance was one of several small shows the hippodrome produced while personal shows are returning. It’s A Woman’s World was only the second show held at the main theater since the pandemic began, but shows in other locations across Gainesville were part of the ongoing The Hipp Pop-Up Series.
The series, which began June 23 and runs through August 12, acts as a “traveling show” of cabaret performances in spaces such as 4th Ave Food Park, Bo Diddley Plaza, and Depot Park. Similar to “It’s A Woman’s World”, which ran for almost an hour, these performances are shorter and more restrained than a complete production.
“It was not feasible for us to put together a big summer musical when we got out of COVID while CDC and union guidelines were changing,” Lynge said. “We decided to do a few smaller, cabaret-like shows so that we can perform and invite the community back to the theater.”
Lynge said the Gainesville community is “thrilled” with the reintroduction of live shows at the hippodrome. With the company back on the main stage for the fall season, Lynge said It’s A Woman’s World and other summer productions are signs of an expected return to normal.
“That’s what we wanted these summer shows to return to our regular season,” she said, “celebrating togetherness and togetherness and togetherness after what we’ve all been through.”
For more information on the upcoming summer shows and the fall season, visit the Hippodrome website.
Contact Heather at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @hgrizzl.
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