By Kayla Tucker – A&E/Features Editor
Grand Rapids Community College debuted “Open Door” Friday night in celebration of the college’s 100th birthday. The show went decade by decade showcasing the life of the college and how it has paved its way as a community college for the past century.
Before the show, President Ender said that “as the history unfolds it will be fascinating” and that he hoped to have fun. James Schafer, co-writer of the musical, also played Ender in the show.
Madeline Jones,19, played Jill, a new student to GRCC who’s unsettled attending a community college, and who finds a door that opens to the past of the college.
“I think a lot differently of GRCC,” Jones said after the show. She said that being able to work with so many people from GRCC and all over Grand Rapids helped her grow as an actress.
Todd Lewis played Jesse Buttrick Davis, first president of GRCC, who traveled alongside Jill through the history of the college. Lewis said that his role was inspiring and felt like a great responsibility.
“Jesse Buttrick Davis had these lofty dreams and never gave up on them,” Lewis said. “His passion carried through to all the subsequent presidents…There wasn’t a negative experience in this whole process.”
The time traveling adventure featured dances like the Charleston, tap, and the Twist and age-old songs like “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Sentimental Journey,” and “Change the World”.
The musical wrapped up in the present time with current President Ender (Schafer) sharing a duet with Jesse Buttrick Davis (Lewis), capturing an emotional moment that could only be dreamt up.
Jill’s attitude altered to appreciate the college after experiencing the history firsthand. Jill and a fellow student express that the college is so much more than they both realized and he feels that everywhere he turns “a new door opens”.
The cast bowed to a standing ovation. President Ender and Schafer, the actor who portrayed Ender onstage, hugged after the show.
“It was fabulous,” Ender said after the show. “I thought it was emotional. It really gave me a sense of history and my place in history (and) probably made me love this institution more than I already do.”
Co-Directors Fred Sebulske and Michelle Urbane were pleased with the performance.
“I was just over the moon with my cast and my crew and my designers,” Urbane said. “It all came together perfectly.”
When asked about the performance, Sebulske gave all credit to Urbane.
“I thought it was a wonderful performance,” Sebulske said. “I want to congratulate Shelley because she did the bulk of the work making this happen…She deserves all the credit for last night.”