The Department of Theatre continues with its fifth annual 24HR Musical premiering on Sunday.
For the fifth year in a row, 24HR Musical has rallied dozens of aspiring dancers, actors and singers to participate in one of the most treasured, glorified and exhausting traditions the Department of Theatre has to offer.
Premiering Sunday at the William’s Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m., selected actors and dancers have begun preparing themselves mentally, physically and emotionally for the wild ride and rush of learning an entire musical in one night. After auditioning and signing away one night of their lives on the dotted line, more than 50 students and selected stage managers, choreographers and directors began collaborating the necessary preparations for the big night.
Co-directors Mariel Ardila and Andrew Gilliland said that while preparing a musical in 24 hours sounds insane, the reward exceeds beyond what the participants can imagine.
“It’s an enormous challenge to put any show on its feet,” said Ardila, senior musical theatre and design tech major from Austin. “And to just put it on in one day is amazing, and it kind of bridges the gap between challenging and absolute fun because you know there will be mistakes, but the better part of it is how much fun and work we put into it which keeps people coming back to see it again and again.”
Created by alumnus Matt Silar in Chicago, 24HR Musical allows for both theatre and non-theatre majors to participate in an effort to raise donations for Living Water International, a non-profit organization that helps bring sustainable water to developing countries. After raising over $2,000 in previous years, Gilliland said the real mission behind the show is more on a global scale.
“Ultimately, this is to give to Living Water International,” said Gilliland, senior acting major from Middletown, Connecticut. “It’s kind of humbling in that we take a step back and see all of these limitations and all of these things that may go horribly wrong, but we’re going to do it because we want to provide for those people and pay it forward.”
After weeks of Facetiming each other and blocking each character’s entrance and exit points, Gilliland and Ardila are prepared for their teams to come together and make the show happen. Starting out with ten potential shows ranging from Legally Blonde to Shrek the Musical, one show is cut from the list until Saturday night, when the chosen show will be revealed. In a panic-like frenzy, students will then begin to hustle as they learn choreography, lyrics and a hodgepodge of lines in-between, all in the span of 24 hours. From homemade costume selections to non-stop emails from stage managers, the show has already begun.
Production stage manager Marissa Trujillo, sophomore theatre education and design tech major from Forney, said the show has inspired several theatre majors to learn how to work together.
“It has helped me to see how important and necessary it is to work as a team to put on a production, and I love that about theatre,” said Trujillo. “As a theatre education major, I would actually like to maybe do a 24HR Musical with my high school students when I am a teacher. As a design tech major as well, it has motivated me to look forward to working with a team of creators on a show as a stage manager.”
From communicating to the participants to making sure every leader has their needs met, Trujillo said the reward of seeing how much work has been shed for one night goes farther than any amount of sleep, work or sweat.
“It’s just going to be such a fun show that features the amazing talent and handwork of their peers,” said Trujillo. “[Participants] will see what a performance looks like after only working on it for 24 hours. There will be tender moment and moments that make them laugh so much because there will be genuine mishaps that will only enhance the show, but that’s the beauty of 24HR. They will be sharing a human experience unlike any other and for such a great cause.”
Confident in the potential attendance of the show, Gilliland said the cast is not worried if there won’t be enough people, but rather they are more worried that they might have to turn some people away.
“With the reservations we have already booked, we know we will at least have 30 people there,” said Gilliland. “I have strong feelings that we will do very well. We have sold past capacity the past couple of years, and so we are more concerned in having to turn people away.”
While no one knows how the show will eventually turn out, it seems like everyone involved is more than eager to see the end product.
“The dynamic of each group is a little different each year, and that makes things a little exciting because not only are you learning from each other in an artistic sense, but you’re communicating with each for months in preparation for the night of,” said Ardila. “We were both actors in the past 24HR Musicals, so we have that under our belt. I think we can bring our new found ability with the actors and speak in the language that the actors will understand us.”
“The funny thing is you can be so tired after staying up, but once you perform you’ll feel this sense of adrenaline that will keep you going for hours,” said Gilliland. “It’s the best experience.”