The Westmont Theatre Arts department is making strides with this year’s commissioned production of Lila Rose Kaplan’s new play, “Small Enchantments,” which premieres this Friday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. This show features an all-female cast and production was entirely online following COVID-19 restrictions. In the center of this production is senior theater major Alex Gabriel, who offers a unique perspective as composer and assistant director of the production.
Gabriel is no stranger to composition, having written music for most of her life. She has recently worked on a project for the score of a new Disney Channel show, “Quizney.” Recently, Gabriel is being cast in a new feature film, developing a sound library for a new audio plug-in, scoring a new play, and all the while working on her EP. When Westmont Theatre Arts chair John Blondell listened to her reel, he immediately asked her to compose “Small Enchantments” as well.
Though composition mid-pandemic is certainly more restrictive, Gabriel has approached it with excitement for the unique opportunity. She explains, “To an extent, we all were put on hold and didn’t know if we were going to have any content to work on at all.” For the cast and crew, the video installation of “Small Enchantments” “was a challenge conceptually, but once we started we discovered a ton of new ways to use the online format and create an entirely different experience for the audience.”
Instead of displaying the unhealthy focus on female physical beauty and naivety common in fairytales, “Small Enchantments” places women in the center of every story as the heroines. This reworked fairytale opens up a lot of conversation surrounding these stereotypes. The nature of common respect creates a space to talk about “mutually hard topics but in a way that is really uplifting and meaningful.”
Gabriel is used to being a minority in the male-dominated composing industry, as other projects she has worked on have been largely populated by men. She explains how “being the only woman in the room is really intimidating, and in another way it is empowering,” leaving Gabriel with a sense of “this is sick. I am one of the first.”
“One of the first” aptly sums up “Small Enchantments” and its breaking down of boundaries — both of physical space and of social stereotypes. Gabriel sets the tone in her compositional work and attitude that reflects the excitement surrounding these new opportunities. The Westmont community does not want to miss out on seeing these effects next weekend in “Small Enchantments.”