Ten Truths to Know About the Musical

Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

We have come far.

If you saw us at auditions, you would be shocked and probably a little concerned. Most people come in a little rusty, and it takes the experienced ears of Mrs. Gilson and Mrs. Salerno to be able to envision the cast at their best and direct accordingly.

You do not have to be a “good singer” to be a part of the musical.

Trust me. Not everyone is the next Celine Dion. I personally am not the strongest singer, but I love it so much that it doesn’t matter! If you’re nervous, the audition is the worst part, but nobody knows or cares about how talented you are.

The cast spends on average over 150 hours together.

Musical kids might talk about the musical nonstop but that’s because we are rehearsing practically nonstop. There are practices every day after school and when the performance dates are looming we start to rehearse on the weekends as well (usually from 9-3). Tech week involves a nine-hour practice to work with the lights, and I know that I was too exhausted to go out most weekends while we were rehearsing. Not only that, but like clockwork every January the whole cast gets a cold and then we suffer together through shared cough drops and tea.

The musical relies on ticket sales completely.

The musical is entirely funded by the ticket sales from the musical prior. Not only that, but it is expected that we make a slight profit as well. That puts some pressure to get the word out through any way possible: social media, calling extended family and even just plain old peer pressure.

Mrs. Gilson is probably not in the audience.

Mrs. Gilson, the woman responsible for the success of the most recent musicals will not be attending the show… at least in the way you would expect. “During performance nights I typically like to be behind the scenes and not watch the entire performance because I like to add suggestions. At that point I’m more concerned with the logistics, plus, watching stresses me out and I would rather be involved.”

So much is happening behind the scenes.

The actors only make up a portion of the team who keeps the show running smoothly. Clothed in black, the stage crew scurries around and is responsible for the smooth transition between scenes. The lights take hours to program and there’s a whole team of makeup and hair girls who come in before every show and are always on hand to fix a flyaway. Not only that, but so much is happening literally behind the scenes. Backstage, EVERYBODY knows every word to every song, the choreography and all the best lines. People are always dancing, jumping, hugging or huddled into a corner to catch a glimpse of the stage.

The set is made almost completely by parents.

While the cast is rehearsing, the parents work tirelessly on a multitude of jobs including set production and advertising. On top of that, this year a group of moms organized a delicious taco dinner complete with Bye Bye Birdie themed decorations!

There are running musical jokes.

This year we had a game of tag that never ended (I’m not sure who is IT at the moment). We also have jokes about the lines or funniest scenes. Someone in the cast had a single line that started the next scene, but he always forgot it. It wasn’t until the first dress rehearsal that he actually said it at the right time, and everyone gave him a round of applause!

We have traditions before every show.

Personally, one of my favorite parts of the whole experience is the pre-show rituals. Everyone gathers into a huge circle in the choir room and we do exercises, sing some songs (and some other things but you will have to join to see for yourself!). The last show, the seniors all get to address the cast which is a very heartfelt moment because it gives the seniors a chance to thank everyone and get a little closure.

Everyone becomes a huge family.

You would be surprised how close everyone in the musical gets. I would argue that we get closer than a traditional team purely because of how much time we spend in such close proximity. The “musical kids” are an eclectic bunch from every possible group in Notre Dame, and there is no other environment where we could all unify. I have met some of my best friends in musical, people I would never have interacted with before. This is the reason that I advise people to go out for the musical!! You will leave the experience with more confidence and close friends.