Rider Musical Theatre Presents The Theory of Relativity

Allison Rhodes

Rider University’s first major musical of the spring semester is The Theory of Relativity, a new musical written by Drama Desk nominees Neil Bartram and Brian Hill. The show introduces a wide range of characters experiencing the joys of life, heartbreaks and personal development.

“It is a show by up-and-coming writers,” says Trent Blanton, the show’s director. Blanton has been with Rider University for nine years, serving as an educator and a director. “The show is charming and illuminates the personal charm of each person in the cast. It’s a show our students can relate to because the characters are close to them in age. It is the perfect opportunity for the actors to work on the art of complete honesty through performance.” He admires the dedication and intelligence of the cast, and he’s always moved by the authenticity and emotion behind of each performance.

The show begins with students evaluating their lives, promoted by a question on a physics exam. One by one, each featured character is given an opportunity to share their unique story through song. Blanton is particularly excited about the music that makes up the show. “There is a wide variety of styles. There are torch songs, vaudeville-sequel compositions and more straightforward contemporary musical theatre, with clear pop influences. There’s even a beautiful acappella song!”

Although the stories and the songs initially seem unrelated, the students come to find they have a more profound connection between them than they could ever imagine. For example, they learn that one common thread they share is the clash between parental expectations and personal hopes and dreams. This is an experience each member of the audience will be able to relate to. 

The show was inspired by the hearts and souls of 20-year-old college students, creating the base for an imaginative story about love, fear and the inevitability of human connection. Bartram and Hill were inspired by a night out with their young cast. The duo gained a new perspective on college students when they learned about the hopes, dreams and insecurities their cast held. They crafted these complex feelings and emotions into this one-of-a-kind musical that is sure to be a hit here at Rider University. Blanton anticipates that the show will have a profound effect on all those who come to see it, “I hope the audience will walk away with an understanding of how we are all connected and how we have the ability to deeply affect those around us.”

The Theory of Relativity debuts at the Yvonne Theatre in a preview performance on Tuesday, February 20.  Performances are Wednesday, February 21, through Sunday, February 25. Rider students with valid id can purchase tickets for $5, with admission for adults being $25 and $20 for non-Rider students. Order online or by calling 609-896-7775.  Preview performance tickets are $9.