Winter 2019 McKendree Magazine

Singing Onstage in NYC

Singing onstage at New York City’s TimesCenter TheaterSinging onstage at New York City’s TimesCenter Theater last September was a once-in-a-lifetime thrill for Dave Philip ’70, who performed in the 35-member chorus of “The Flood,” an off-Broadway musical. Based on the town of Valmeyer, Ill., which was destroyed by the rising Mississippi River in 1993 and later rebuilt on higher ground, it is an uplifting story of perseverance and renewal.

The script, lyrics and score were composed by Peter Mills and Cara Michael, a now married-couple who were students in a Princeton University playwriting class, Dave explained. After the Flood of ’93 they visited Monroe County, interviewed local residents and turned their stories into a musical, which ran off-Broadway in 2001 and again in 2006.

Last summer—25 years after the historic deluge—the creators asked the Monroe Actors Stage Company (MASC) in Waterloo, Ill., to organize an ensemble to support a choral production of the play in New York.

“I didn’t have to think twice about going! How many times in a lifetime do you get to go to New York and appear in an off-Broadway musical?” said Dave, who has participated in several MASC community theater musicals.

When the chorus members arrived in New York, “we went straight to work in rehearsals every day with the professional actors and actresses,” Dave said. The single-night benefit production was held on Sept. 9 at the theater in The New York Times building complex near Times Square. Dave’s wife Mary Philip ’66, son Mark, daughter-in-law Karen and five-yearold grandson Holden were in the audience.

“One thing that made this so memorable is that the performance was a fundraiser for the people of Puerto Rico, who were suffering from another similar natural disaster,” Dave noted. “It was great having fun performing and at the same time helping people.”

Upon his return home, he immediately resumed rehearsing for the MASC production of “The Flood,” an Illinois Bicentennial Event, which opened two weeks later to sold out crowds at Waterloo’s Capitol Theater. University trustee George Obernagel ’78 co-sponsored the local show. The director, Amber Dillard, studied elementary education at McKendree in 2002.


Dave Philip ’70 (dark blue shirt, second from left) takes a curtain call with actor Ben Fankhauser (of “Newsies,” second from right) and other cast members of “The Flood” at New York City’s TimesCenter Theater.