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‘Ten Million Dollar Melody’: A Preview

The Clemson Players, Provided
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The Clemson Players are back and ready to kick off their 2022 season with a new, never-before-seen show titled “Ten Million Dollar Melody.” In this fierce competition, two teams of five answer music-related trivia questions in order to pick a category worth a specific amount of points. Based on that category, each team performs popular song choices that fit with the theme, with the possibility of the other team ‘stealing’ if they come up with a song first and ring a bell. To put it simply, imagine a cross between “Jeopardy” and the riff-off from “Pitch Perfect.” 

I was lucky enough to attend a rehearsal of the show a couple of weeks before opening night and all I can say is that my face hurt from smiling so much. After the start of the second act, I had just put my notebook down and let myself watch for the sake of watching, wanting to enjoy this delightful display of talent and energy by this incredible cast. As it was a rehearsal, and this being just a preview, I won’t comment on much of the technical aspects or execution. That’ll be saved for the full review once opening night hits. 

The “messiness” of creating allows us to learn from mistakes and how to fix them together. Producing live theatre creates a laboratory situation for students to grow from one another.

In attending the rehearsal, however, I was able to get a thorough look at the production value and effort on all sides of the show. Having been outside of a theatrical production myself for about a year, seeing the rehearsal process was quite refreshing. The entire cast was welcoming to my presence, which can understandably be off-putting; a set of foreign eyes on your work-in-progress project is never the most comforting thing, but they didn’t mind at all. They worked unphased and focused. Singing was never a strong suit during my time in theatre, but I’m impressed every time I get to listen to a cast run through a musical number, adjusting pitches and fixing melodies on the fly. The synergy between the cast, the band and Musical Director Lisa Sain Odom had my admiration in an instant.

Respect between cast and the directors in general is monumental when performing a consistent and well put together show, and Director Shannon Robert seemed to have it. Much of the supportive atmosphere and palpable dedication I could see was facilitated by her love of the show and her crew. That, and the fact that this show was created by Robert, Odam, and The Clemson Players all collaborating together. The pride for their creation is obvious and well-deserved from what I’ve seen.

And, while they’re rarely seen by the live audience, I will forever sing the praises of a good and efficient tech crew. A rehearsal allows for both the actors to practice their performance and for the crew to determine and fix any necessary tweaks to lighting, sound or the set. Any time a problem would arise, I could count the seconds until a crew member would shout up with a solution, and in an instant everything would continue to run as normal. Not only was the crew efficient, but they made for a rather supportive audience. There were several musical numbers where both crew members and I would be bouncing in our seats, giving so much frequent and deserved applause my hands felt a bit sore before rehearsal let out. The fun was infectious, and the crew happily supported the cast technically and emotionally

Before the rehearsal, I was able to ask Robert some questions regarding the creation and rehearsal process of the show, which she was happy to answer.


Griffin Cobb: What is most exciting about bringing “Ten Million Dollar Melody” to Clemson?

Shannon Robert: I am writing/devising this piece with our students. which is the most exciting thing about this process to me [as a teacher] — this will be the first time the play will be produced. Our students are creating these roles for the first time — this type of  process with them is a good introduction to collaboration and to finding their voice as a performing artist.


GC: Why do you feel it’s important/necessary to produce this show? What made the department choose this show over others? 

SR: We chose to create our own show because we have more control over cast size/vocal ranges than we do with other published shows — with this production, we could cast the number of people we wanted and arrange the music around their voices and types. So many of our students are going to be creating their own work — the “messiness” of creating allows us to learn from mistakes and how to fix them together. Producing live theatre creates a laboratory situation for students to grow from one another. It also allows us some flexibility with Covid protocols that we wouldn’t have with a published show.


GC: What challenges were faced while directing this show compared to what you’ve previously done? 

SR: The main challenge we are having is the same one everyone else in the world and our industry right now — navigating our way through recommended Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Entertainment Safety Alliance (ESA) and Actors Equity Association (AEA) recommended protocols. Our team is working hard to mitigate problems related to Covid. Every show has its own set of challenges, which is why we try to diversify our offerings to provide our students with a wider range of opportunities in different genres, styles, and forms.


Much thought has gone into both the execution of the show and the safety of the cast throughout it. The glimpse I got during rehearsal was not only a lovely jaunt through what I could expect from the finished performance, but a great glance at what makes theatre so enjoyable. I’m beyond excited to see and review the finished version of the show, and I highly encourage any and all to go brighten your day when the show opens on Monday, Feb. 28! 

Tickets and all show dates are available here!

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