Taylor Theatre’s production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” closed its doors months ago, but the music that was weaved throughout the story is being revived.
This revival is happening in the form of the band recording an album of music they played during pre-show, intermission and set changes.
The songs that will be featured were written by Conner Reagan (’17), most of which were heard in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” along with a few that weren’t included in the show.
Reagan explained that the purpose of the songs wasn’t to tell the story but to provide an accompaniment to what was playing out on stage.
“A lot of it just has to do with themes in the book or characters in the book,” Reagan said. “We didn't want the songs to tell the story of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ because we had people on stage telling the story.”
Reagan further described how the music set the stage for the play by indicating the time period. To do this, he chose to add a few songs to the pre-show performance that some may have recognized as from the early- to mid-1900s. Furthermore, in his original songs, he took inspiration from the songs of the period to try to retain that same ambience.
“[Conner] just listened to music from the time period, steeped himself in it,” band member Audrey Felger (’08) said.
Felger, who worked alongside Reagan in the songwriting process, also talked about how he created that environment in a similar way to how he would design and build sets for shows.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” is not typically known as a musical production, so some might have been surprised by the presence of a soundtrack. However, the concept of adding music to it wasn’t completely unheard of.
Indiana Repertory Theatre put on a production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” with original music that Theatre Department Co-Chair and Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Tracy Manning attended. Manning then proposed the idea of including original music in Taylor Theatre’s production to Reagan.
Once music was brought into the picture, a step that followed was assembling the band. Felger got involved because she and Reagan had played together on the worship team at Pierce Church.
The two other members of the band were professor of Physics and Engineering Robert Davis and his wife, Ellen Davis, who are well-known bluegrass players in the community that Felger and Reagan knew long before the band came together.
“[Robert and Ellen have] played for Taylor Theatre shows before, and I knew that they wanted to do it again, but we had never played just the four of us ever before,” Felger said. “So it was really fun to sit down together and put muscle on bone to the songs that he wrote because they were brand new songs that no one had ever played before, and so it was fun to get to, from the ground up, envision what they were going to be.”
Now, months after the play, the band has reunited to record the songs for the album. While Felger and Reagan are new to recording music, Robert felt familiar with it. He currently has five recording projects under his belt, four of which were with the band he’s in with his wife.
The experience provided opportunities for growth, knowledge and community for the band members. Robert expressed his gratitude for being able to play with the band and to experience a different side of campus that he normally wouldn’t interact with. Felger and Reagan both said they learned so much from Robert and Ellen and that their experiences were made better by the people around them.
“That was so rewarding to see months of work that you bring being multiplied by much, much more than you expected,” Reagan said. “And to be proud of the product but not be like ‘I did so well’ but ‘we did this together.’”