Cast members dance in the opening number, as photographed on April 17, 2023. (Hustler Staff/Jorie Fawcett)
Cast members dance in the opening number, as photographed on April 17, 2023. (Hustler Staff/Jorie Fawcett)
Jorie Fawcett

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway presents final show of school year: ‘Violet’

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway is set to perform “Violet” from April 21-22 at the Rothschild Black Box Theater.

Vanderbilt Off-Broadway, a student-run theater organization that produces three full-length musicals per academic year, will perform “Violet,” written by Brian Crawley as their annual spring show. Open to all students, VOB welcomes new performers, musicians and crew members for each show, regardless of previous experience. 

Inspired by the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts, “Violet” is a moving musical about titular character Violet (senior Madison Good) who is traveling across the Deep South in 1964 on a mission for healing. After being struck by an axe as a girl, Violet saves up enough money to travel with a TV evangelist (first-year Stewart Geisz) who promises to heal the scar on her face and make her beautiful. Although she doesn’t succeed in healing her scar, she meets a Black soldier named Flick (senior Lamar Morgan) who helps her reach beyond her physical imperfections and repair the prejudice she holds deep in her skin.

Cast members rehearse a scene on a bus, as photographed on April 17, 2023. (Hustler Staff/Jorie Fawcett)
Cast members rehearse a scene on a bus, as photographed on April 17, 2023. (Hustler Staff/Jorie Fawcett) (Jorie Fawcett)

As VOB’s first Black director in nearly 10 years, senior Brianna Stewart described the process for selecting the spring show and challenges with performing a production with more serious topics, like racial prejudice. 

“I wanted to at least consider a show that called for inherent diversity with a complex story, something that pushed the envelope,” Stewart said in a message to The Hustler. “Theatre, like many other experiences, can fail to be inclusive, and I wanted to push back against that trend. After the artistic board narrowed down the potential show choices, we began to complete further research into our top shows, including ‘Violet.’ We fell in love with the music and the timely message that still felt relevant despite the show’s setting being 1964.” 

Good, who has appeared in several VOB shows both as an actor and director, also described performing a show with a more serious topic than past productions. 

“VOB has definitely been a white-presenting group for a while which is tough because obviously we want everyone to come in, but if we’re not representing [all students], there’s the cycle of people not going to want to audition,” Good said. “It’s really interesting to portray these sentiments as an actor because it feels so far away since the show is set in the ‘60s. Yet, these things are still happening today.” 

Good described how collaboration is vital to the production of a completely student-run show. 

“I basically have dedicated college to VOB, but it’s just been such a great experience for me acting in the shows and being on artistic boards,” Good said. “It’s not like a professional theater where you just do your part and then go home. It really is so collaborative all the time, because we all want to make it happen and make it shine.” 

Stewart similarly shared the difficulties in planning rehearsals that fit students’ busy schedules. 

“It is definitely a tricky space to work in. All in all, the reasons above make it that much more rewarding to see the life of this piece come together after the hard work of the cast, crew, pit and artistic board,” Stewart said.

VOB will perform “Violet” three times from April 21-22 in the Rothschild Black Box Theatre. 

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About the Contributor
Jorie Fawcett, Editor-in-Chief
Jorie Fawcett ('25) is from Tiffin, Ohio, and studies secondary education and sociology in Peabody College. She previously served as Managing Editor and Life Editor. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her teaching, reading or pretending to study at Local Java or Suzie's. You can reach her at [email protected].
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VU ‘22
10 months ago

There’s a large argument to be made on how VOB has failed to be or seem inclusive not because bipoc students aren’t auditioning or seeking involvement but because space is not being created for bipoc students (and new performers in general) within a clique ridden and self proclaimed “fratty” org. Let it be acknowledged that the latter notion creates and perpetuates the former. I think more should be done and acknowledged by VOB in order for “Violet” and the statements made by VOB in this article to not appear sadly and simply performative.

Last edited 10 months ago by VU ‘22