The Collegians prepare as the sum of nearly two semesters of work comes into focus in the form of Zeitgeist!. “Zeitgeist! is sort of the showcase of everything that we’ve worked on this year in collegians,” said senior theater major Hannah Taubitz. “It’s a lot of really fun singing, lot of dancing, put together with some loose, funny script bits. It’s a show in and of itself, but it’s not the type of show that you’d normally see on Bethel’s stage, I think.” A long Bethel tradition, Zeitgeist! is the Collegian’s annual performance where the members are given an opportunity to display their personal skills. “It’s a way for us to showcase individual talents a little bit more, in the sense of like a showcase, but instead of having to do just a one or two-person showcase like the music department does,” said Zac Hunter, another senior theater major who is looking forward to his second time in Zeitgeist. Not only is it a fun way for the theater students to show off their talents, it provides the opportunity to familiarize performing arts majors with current works and prepare them for the professional world. “Zeitgeist in itself is an opportunity on many different fronts,” said Collegians Director Jill Hostetler. “It’s an opportunity for our students to gain professional experience in movement and comedy and contemporary theatre, all of those opportunities. But it’s also an opportunity to minister to those who need a little more laughter in their lives. And it’s an opportunity for the audience to take a break from the everyday, and just enjoy themselves for a while.” This year’s show is shaping up to be particularly good. “These are some of the nicest people I have ever worked with,” Hostetler said. “I think that their professional skills are amazing, but I really think they’re just sweet. They’re tenderhearted, they’re giving, they’re passionate. I’m reluctant for this process to be over because I like the together time. I enjoy them, I enjoy being with them.” Though the yearly performance is nothing new, Zeitgeist! has changed through the ages, morphing from a showcase to a musical comedy. “It is much different than I ever thought it would be,” said Hostetler, who has been working with Bethel Collegians for 13 years. “A few years ago we decided that this concert needed a name,” she said. “The term Zeitgeist was proposed and I said that I would only find it acceptable if there was an exclamation point at the end of the word… I do not want this to look traditional. This should be fun.” The beauty of Zeitgeist! is that it is a personalized humor based off of the individuals in Collegians. Each show is as unique and quirky as the students performing. Like people, no two Zeitgeist! shows are the same. Students receive the script about two weeks before the show, months after they’ve been working together. This allows Hostetler to acquaint herself with each member and find the best way to highlight their personality in the performance. “She learns, kind of, who we are as people and then writes lines according to that,” Hunter said. “So there’s a lot of inside jokes that people who are theater majors or music majors or who have been in collegians or been a part of our shows- they’ll get some of the things that, you know, just some random person who walked in off the street would be like, ‘Huh?’ There’s some of those in all of our shows, but we try to make sure there’s something for everybody.” As for the name, it’s about as quirky as the show itself. “Zeitgeist actually means ‘The spirit of the times,’” Hostetler explained. “It is German. It has many interpretations, but that is the one we choose to go with. We needed a name for our zaniness. It’s just fun. We are mostly musical comedy. We have some heartfelt moments as well. We always have something that’s entertaining for any generation, something that’s in a comfort zone for just about any age. But we always like to step out of the box a little bit and just put some craziness out there onstage.” She has a personal belief that oddness should be valued. “This weekend is all about ‘What makes us special makes us strong.’ I think in a Christian environment, we have a tendency to focus on conformity and sometimes we tend to hide our light under a bushel. This way we have the opportunity to say, ‘It’s okay to be yourself, even if that self is a little outside the norm. It’s okay.’ There’s no such thing as normal anyway.” Though it’s been a long journey filled with hard work, no one seems to mind. “It’s been definitely very busy, but it’s just spending a lot of time with people I that love very dearly,” Taubitz said. "Just getting together and dancing and singing and being all tired together is a good time.” “I’m excited for the entire show because I am excited for them,” Hostetler said. “I am excited that they have the opportunity to share their talents.” “Come expecting to laugh, expecting to hear a lot of goofy songs, a lot of very random, fun moments,” Taubitz said. “It’s got all kinds of stuff to make people smile.” The show is Friday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door: $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.