Musical in the Making

As a music composition major, I arrived on campus freshman year with a dream: to write a musical that would one day be performed as part of IC’s main-stage season. With the help of my professor, mentor, and friend Greg Woodward, that dream is about to become a reality.

Senior year of high school I had read my father’s favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo, and couldn’t believe it hadn’t yet been made into a musical. So as soon as I got to Ithaca, I dedicated myself to rectifying the situation. My first two years at IC were spent at the piano and the computer, writing the book, lyrics, and music for what the chairman of the theater arts department would later call an epic musical drama. I was absorbed in the details of writing, composing, and networking, all the while maintaining a full class schedule and attending 15 recitals and concerts per semester. During weekly, one-hour lessons with Greg, I would play through whatever song(s) I had written that week, and he would offer feedback and suggestions. As time plowed onward, the two of us met more frequently; we’ve easily met for hundreds of hours, talking through the show musically and dramatically.

The first draft of the show was complete by the beginning of my junior year, but my elation was short lived: with that achievement came deadlines. If Greg and I were going to formally pitch this idea to the theater department, we needed a demo CD. I recruited a friend who happened to be a recording major, rehearsed six singers, and recorded the demo. With that hurdle behind us, Greg coordinated a meeting with the theater faculty, who sat around a piano while I played and sang through the entire score. Mercifully, they loved it.

Senior year has now arrived. The show will open April 26 in the Hoerner Theatre, the first student-written show ever chosen for the main-stage season. My every spare moment at this point is spent orchestrating for a 26-piece orchestra (Greg and I now meet four hours a week) and revising the script for weekly design and concept meetings with the creative team. I was also involved in the casting of the show this past January. Come opening night, however, I will be sitting in the audience along with family and friends, watching the show stand on its own feet.

It’s a lot of work, but I do it with a smile. April 26 will be the realization of a dream four years in the making, a dream that might never have gotten off the ground without the support and open-mindedness of Ithaca’s faculty and students.

In return, I’ve made a promise to myself that I intend to keep: I’ll share whatever skills and knowledge I have for as long as people will listen. That will be my way of giving back—long after my graduation robe has come off and long after my IC diploma gets hung on the wall.

Behind the Scenes Video   


Originally published in Fuse: Musical in the Making.

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