‘Calculus’ makes the grade as a musical

Play explains advanced math concepts  with humor


While a musical based on calculus may sound like a bad episode of “Glee,” “Calculus the Musical” feels more like an hour-long medley of “Bill Nye the Science Guy” and “Schoolhouse Rock!”

City College hosted the   touring production out of Cincinnati Feb. 15 in V-101.

Created by Marc Gutman and Sadie Bowman, “Calculus: The Musical!” began as a teaching tool in Gutman’s classroom.

The show follows Isaac Newton as he develops the key concepts of calculus, such as derivatives, integrals and limits. The play is broken into several chapters with each one focusing on a concept.  The concept of the chapter is then explained in song.

For example, the Power Rule is sung to Petula Clark’s “Downtown” while Riemann Integrals are explained in the rap styling of Eminem, and the show ends with a tribute to the French mathematician Guillaume de L’Hopital sung to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

Presented by the Math and World Cultures Department, “Calculus: The Musical!” had a full house.

“It was awesome. I’m glad we brought them in,” said Misael Camarena, co-chair of the math department.

The show ended with a standing ovation.

The cast drove from El Paso to perform at City College and San Diego High School.

Actors Joshua and Breona Murphy, who are also newlyweds, say they are not math whizzes.

“It’s fun. I like this job,” said Breona.

The production is touring the country as part of the Know Theatre of Cincinnati.

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‘Calculus’ makes the grade as a musical