After only one twelve-hour-long rehearsal in various locales in Pettigrew Hall, twenty five cast members, a nine person tech crew, two costume designers, a choreographer, musical director, and director put on an original musical on Saturday night. The “24 Hour Musical” included 10 musical numbers in total, with 3 fully choreographed large ensemble numbers. Performers learned and memorized choreography and lyrics day-of and utilized scripts when necessary. Costume designers Sara Hollenberg ’19 and Drew Murdock ’21 pulled, pieced together, and created costumes throughout the day on Saturday.
Director Ali Greene ’20, choreographer Shae Gwydir ’20, and musical director Izzy Eichenbaum ’21 held auditions at 4PM on Friday afternoon. At 9PM, Greene, Gwydir, and Eichenbaum announced that the cast would be performing a musical written they’d written. Around 11PM on Friday night, they dismissed the cast and crew to get some rest. Rehearsals began at 9AM Saturday morning and showtime was a mere 12 hours later.
Greene explained that the Robinson Players were inspired by Brandeis University’s annual 24 Hour Musical, an event organized by the Brandeis community to create an all-inclusive bonding experience in which incoming first-years are introduced to theatre at the school. Bates’ Robinson Players make a similar effort each September through the club’s annual One Acts festival, which allows first-years who are interested in getting involved with Bates theatre to try their hand within the confines of a short play.
The Rob Players wanted to inaugurate an all-inclusive event at the start of the winter semester as well, and thus the 24 Hour Musical was born. All students who auditioned were cast, and tech director Rebecca Berger ’19 invited all additional students interested in doing lighting, sound, and props for the show to get involved regardless of experience. Greene clarified that the show is Bates’ only no-cut production and explained that one of her main goals was to “find a way to get [each actor] to speak onstage.”
Cast member Claire Sullivan ’19 remarked that experiencing the entire production process of a musical in 12 hours “just goes to show how much work really goes into a show.” Greene, Gwydir, and Eichenbaum said that the pressure of an uber rapid production process is all part of the fun. Because it was so quick, “[the group] got comfortable enough to act like fools around each other, were able to roll with the punches, make mistakes, and ‘own it,’” said Gwydir. Eichenbaum echoed that sentiment and said that the “experience was all about getting out of your comfort zone, trying something new, and having fun.”
“Actors are conditioned to try and make things as perfect as possible,” said cast member Emma Gomez-Rivas ’19. “We all understood that this project wasn’t necessarily about producing a perfect show,” said Gwydir. To that point, Greene stated that “there’s something really important about learning to fail onstage… you will fail and it will be the best learning experience.” The director said that with the help of such a supportive audience, she and the cast released their inhibitions and put on a unique and genuinely entertaining show.
As for next year, Greene, Gwydir, and Eichenbaum hope that the 24 Hour Musical becomes an annual Rob Players tradition. “It was so special, and I really want more people to have an opportunity to be a part of something like this,” said Gwydir. Greene loved the experience of “putting on a funny show that’s well-intended.”
All three also expressed that they were impressed by the level of commitment from the cast and crew. “Their patience and optimistic attitudes throughout the whole process made the day so special,” said Gwydir.