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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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‘We’re Home’: A PEMCo Revue review

Every year, Pasquerilla East Musical Company (PEMCo) puts on an annual revue to raise money for St. Margaret’s House, a charitable day center in South Bend intended to help women and children in poverty meet their basic needs. The revue also serves as a training ground for incoming PEMCo producers and as a goodbye to outgoing seniors. 

Typically, The Observer doesn’t review revues. There’s something about the nature of the genre (first, being a variety show and secondly, being at the end of the year) that doesn’t lend itself well to news coverage. But I’ve been the PEMCo beat reporter for The Observer for the past three years, so when Caroline Mereness, one of their marketing producers, asked me to come, I figured, “Why not?”

I sat through the show in Washington Hall’s Black Box Theater last Wednesday, willfully ignoring my senior thesis, and to be honest, I’m still struggling to figure out how to review this. To be clear, it’s not because I didn’t enjoy it! I’m just not sure if have the words. 

I remember, as a sophomore, standing out in the rain by Washington Hall, trying my absolute best to figure out how in the world I was supposed to get inside to see the “Bright Star” dress rehearsal. I remember being nervous, shaking somebody’s hands with my egregiously sweaty palms and pelting the director with way too many questions. Then, I remember the villain of the show (Andrew Crecca) complimenting me on the review I wrote later that week in class. 

Flash forward three years, and I’ve got “Big Fish” director Josh Vo in my ear, telling me nobody on stage knows “the reporter” is here because they’ve got some nervous freshmen on stage. Guys, trust me, I remember the feeling. I could write a whole essay about the relationship between Scene and the performance arts groups on campus, but I’ll spare you the lecture.

At “We’re Home: A PEMCo Revue,” I can’t help but feel (weirdly?) proud. Over the years, I’ve seen these actors and actresses grow and improve on stage and, man, has it been such a joy. For instance, I saw Bryce Bustamante in probably his first serious role as Usnavi de la Vega from “In the Heights.” (Dude, seriously, big fan. But I have to ask: Is it really serious if you’re rapping in a reprise of a Lin Manuel-Miranda role? That one’s up for debate.) This cast is full of freshmen, and they’ve reassured me the future is in good hands. 

When the show ended, I was nearly in tears — but not particularly because I felt moved by the senior song (“Lighthouse”) or the finale (“Finale” from “In the Heights”). It was because this was the last time I would be in the Washington Hall Black Box Theater to review a show for The Observer. 

Maybe that’s selfish, I don’t know, but I wasn’t the only one in the room feeling something. It was the way director Camila Holden enthusiastically pumped her fist in the sky every time somebody nailed a song. It was the way I heard laughter backstage during intermission. It was the way the performing arts at Notre Dame is home to so many — including me, somewhere out there in the audience with a Playbill and pen to mark it up. It was the way I will miss it all. 

Thank you, PEMCo, for three fantastic seasons. Thank you for graciously letting me in the side door to watch your shows for free. But thank you, most of all, for making me a home in your audience.