Hoepfner wins Merit Award for his play ‘The Juries’

Graphic courtesy of Dr. Greg Hoepfner

Graphic courtesy of Dr. Greg Hoepfner

Jacob Jardel
Assistant Managing Editor
@JJardel_Writing

After much deliberation, the jury is out for “The Juries,” which won the Merit Award from the Boston Metro Opera’s Composers’ International Competition.

Cameron Professor of Music Dr. Greg Hoepfner and his daughter, Helen Hoepfner, collaborated on the musical, which received the award over the summer. Dr. Hoepfner said he felt honored that the production received recognition.

“Getting the occasional award makes you feel nice,” he said. “It’s sort of a validation.”

The award also validated his initial optimistic feelings about the play.

“When I know it’s pretty good, then I’ll try to send it out there and get it published,” Dr. Hoepfner said. “The nice thing is when somebody else says it’s pretty good.”

This validation came after the play’s initial run at Cameron on Feb. 12, 2013 – one year after a one-act showcase. Despite severe winter weather, “The Juries” still saw time on stage.

“We had guys scraping the streets, steps and sidewalks,” Dr. Hoepfner said, “and we still had a great turnout. It worked out really well.”

According to Dr. Hoepfner, the next step is to get the play performed other places or potentially published, which he claims is “difficult – especially in the musical theatre world.” However, this award shows promise for the play’s future.

“On the good side,” he said, “it did win this award in Boston. It was one of three musicals that won the Merit Award, which means that they will perform it sometime in their upcoming season.”

“The Juries” follows a group of music students as they approach semester evaluations, colloquially known as juries. Dr. Hoepfner said that the play was supposed transform the nerves and fears of the students into a farcical comedy.

“Horrible stuff happens,” he said. “People get nervous, and bad things happen. Usually, in the real world, that’s just sad. But you can take anything that’s sad and make it funny.

“It’s basically a play about a group of students who come in one at a time and totally butcher and ruin their finals,” Dr. Hoepfner said. “What’s not to laugh about that?”

Using this minimalistic concept, the play incorporated a similarly fundamental set geared toward performance in niche markets and other universities. Dr. Hoepfner felt the simplicity added to the fun of the play.

“The set is fun because it’s really easy,” he said. “It’s basically a classroom, a piano with an accompanist and four teachers behind a big, long table. That’s the set.”

According to him, as a whole, the play was fun and easy for the Hoepfners to write, compose and perform. However, the family tandem added an extra aspect of enjoyment to this production.

“I’ve worked in other collaborations with people,” Dr. Hoepfner said, “and I’ve worked with other people that didn’t have the same work ethic. Helen is hard-working and could produce material on demand, which is really important.

“It’s one thing to work on it by yourself and get it done,” he said, “but for two people to come to an artistic agreement – that can get dicey. We had a really good time, though.”

For Dr. Hoepfner, his fun experience would not have been possible if he been anywhere else.

“I still love every one of these students that helped out so much with this and gave up so many hours of time to do this for me,” he said. “I do not take that for granted in the slightest because without being at Cameron and without having these students so willing to help me out, that would have never happened.

“I’m a very lucky man,” he said, “and I’m well aware of it.”

Up next for the Hoepfners is a play with a more dramatic twist, based on a play that Helen wrote about a murder from decades ago. Dr. Hoepfner said the tonal shift in this musical will play into the composition of the score in a different way.

“It’s not the first time drama has been done as a musical,” he said, “but that’s really a hardcore and strange venue to attack. It’s a whole different genre, and it’s such a delicate balance with that tragedy. You can’t minimize the emotional effect that you could have with it.”

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