Co-directors: Kate Michaels and Hanns Zöllner
Staging and choreography: Myrtha Schuler
Musical direction: Tiffany Butts and Hanns Zöllner
Wicked medley (Thomas Iten photo)
Mean/Kind was a performance project that grew from a set of medleys that the Zug Show Choir had already been preparing as independent musical suites. In looking for a theme which tied the 3 collections together (songs from Wicked, West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof) it was clear that in each of the shows where our music comes from, characters are struggling with, or working through some kind of bullying and acceptance problem.
For example, in Wicked Elphaba is rejected by her family, friends, school and community, not only for being green, but also for having tremendous magical powers that others feel threatened by. In West Side Story, we have a group of people from Puerto Rico living in New York. They are rejected by The Jets (the rival gang), which interestingly is also formed of immigrants. However, they arrived a decade earlier from Europe..and consider themselves more "acceptable". In Fiddler on the Roof there is a village group composed of Ukrainian/Russian Jewish people who are forced to migrate. Additionally, our hero in the musical, the beloved Tevye (played by Jim Carson), sadly rejects his daughter when she chooses at to marry outside of her family's faith.
As many of our performers have lived in different countries, we thought the theme of acceptance, overcoming bullying and harassment as well as learning how fitting in were pertinent, both for our performers and our community in general. Everyone knows what it's like to feel like you don't "fit in" … or when you feel new … or when you've been rejected and bullied. Some of us have also come out on the other side of the equation and had to learn compassion and responsibility.
In times such as these, where people are struggling with different political viewpoints and gender-equality problems, we wanted to create a piece of performance art that highlights some of the problems people are working with every day at some level. After realizing the common theme between these seemingly very different musicals (acceptance- overcoming bullying) adding in Taylor Swift's popular hit, Mean, was an easy fun choice. Also, David Friedman's beautiful solution, ‘We Can Be Kind’ seemed like the best note to end on.
Mean/Kind was a concert — however, it was put together like a musical, with props, lighting design, costume elements, staging, and different characters. But like a concert, it also lost its fourth wall and addressed the audience directly at times. It had orchestrated backing tracks as well as live musicians for some of the songs. We were inspired to do something different after years of being held up by Covid, so welso experimented with multi-media as well as having original arrangements of some of the songs.
West Side Story medley (Thomas Iten photo)
Fiddler on the Roof suite (Thomas Iten photo)
This production was made possible thanks to generous
support from the Canton of Zug & the Town of Zug …
… as well as the Stiftung ESAF 2019 Zug and the Centralis Group.
We are also grateful for contributions by
the Heinrich and Julie Sandmeier-Streiff-Stifung, the Zuger Kantonalbank and Zug4You.