By Danny Brady
Joining the Best of Broadway Club can immediately connect you to a tightly knit group of people who care for each other and help individuals blossom and grow.
“We are a family,” club treasurer Joanee Farias said. “[New members] start the year shy, in their shell and unsure…at the end of the spring show [all members] are hugging, crying, laughing and celebrating.” This experience wouldn’t be possible for today’s members if the club had never been created.
50 years ago Richard Nixon was President, The Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, and the first ever cell phone call was made. At that same time, a group of Springfield College alumni proposed creating a club based on performing arts.
Around that time, there were few resources for a performing arts club on campus.
But that didn’t stop them from having fun and getting creative.
“They were joking around one day about putting on a review of Best of Broadway numbers and they were like ‘nobody is gonna show up,’ and then their opening night, they had a line out the door,” Farias said.
The college took note of the club’s success, and a decade later, they built Fuller Arts Center. From that point forward, the club has continued to grow and evolve into a staple at Springfield College.
“I think we take the sense of community here to a higher level,” current Co-Director of the club Hailey Boutin said. “We create this welcoming and opening environment where people feel comfortable exploring sides of themselves that they may not have wanted to explore otherwise.”
Adding, “Springfield is a big sports school…our club is really great for students where sports aren’t their main pull to be here.”
The club’s 50th anniversary means a lot to current members too.
“We just continue to build on what our founder started 50 years ago, and that feels really special.” Said Co-Director Hailley Boutin.
“[Best of Broadway] has been a place for people to go to have a family and a comfort space for 50 years,” Farias said. “So many of us are so thankful…It has become such a special place to us.”
Today, the club is bigger and busier than ever. The club of around 30 members rehearses Monday through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. With three weekend rehearsals throughout the semester. Once ‘tech week’ comes, most of the work is dedicated to gearing up for the actual show. They rehearse Sunday through Saturday using the costumes and props that they will be using on stage. Their performance schedule for this year is just as eventful. Their fall review has 21 different songs and scenes from various musicals.
“We end our show with our sneak peek number for the spring,” Boutin said. “This year’s Spring Show will be a full performance for the musical Something Rotten.”
Both Farias and Boutin have plans to help the club continue to grow and thrive in the future.
“We are looking to do a few more outside events than we have done before just to put ourselves out there and invite people in,” Boutin said. “We want to show people that we’re here just to have fun and that you don’t have to have experience. It’s just about wanting to be a part of it that’s important.”
Farias echoed those sentiments.
“Becoming a bigger presence outside of just the two shows we do is really important,” she said. “One thing I would love for Best of Broadway to do in the future is advocate for the arts.We have a lot of really talented individuals at this school that sometimes don’t get the support from the school that they deserve.”
Despite these challenges, the club has always thrived. They have created a culture that is family-oriented for anyone who wants to join. The future is bright with leaders like Hailley and Joanne paving the way.
Photo courtesy of Springfield College Flickr