The Events Barn stage lights glowed brightly on April 27, illuminating the shapes of actors moving to the music and smiles from the audience surrounding them. Suddenly the Musical, an Australian show, was performed for the first time without its original cast at Hamilton. Produced by the student group Untitled@Large, the show was special not only for premiere status, but also because every step of its process signified a chance for student growth and accomplishment.
For me, one of the most rewarding parts of this production was seeing Suddenly’s original creator react to our performance. Dean Gild, a young Australian theatre professional, came to Hamilton specifically for the production. After the show, he greeted everyone in the cast and crew with a huge smile. Gild congratulated us, commenting on how comforting it was to see his project live on in a new form and with a completely new interpretation.
“I am so impressed by the ingenuity and creativity the Untitled@Large team displayed with their production,” he posted later on Instagram.
Gild’s praise, though, would never have come to fruition without the effort of countless students. The process started early this semester, when the board members of Untitled@Large sought to expand student theatre on campus. From student proposal ideas, we put together a roadmap of shows. Suddenly was pitched by Benjamin White ’26, who had never directed before, but who wanted “to highlight family struggles/strains and the effect that they can have on the people involved.”
“I love the fact that Untitled is students helping students bring their theatrical visions to life,” White said. “It values students’ creativity and ambition, and that is really important to me.”
After a whirlwind of auditions and callbacks in which everyone danced to what would eventually become the choreography to the show’s opening, “Wake Me Up,” rehearsals began. Kirk Petrie ’25, who had previously only worked as an actor in musicals, signed on as music director. Petrie said that although early in the process he struggled with teaching a large group of students, he became more comfortable leading rehearsals as time went on. “The cast and I got to know each other better,” he said, “and I’m proud of the show that we put together.”
Alissa Mangiaracina ’24, whose self-described “really unique position” was that of “costume designer, production manager, and actor,” became a lifeforce for the production. They oversaw rehearsals, pulled together our various swaths of outfits, and performed in one of the three lead roles.
Mangiaracina said it was “honestly beautiful to watch the pieces come together from all angles;” however, they also made sure to not underestimate how much they learned. “Be prepared to speak your mind,” they advised aspiring production managers. “Odds are if you think something is wrong, your cast and crew are probably thinking more of the same.”
Student theatre is growing at Hamilton. We had 70 people show up to this performance alone. Our organization is on its way to becoming more professional and widely relied upon by the campus community. We can hope Gild’s recognition, as a professional in the theatre industry, is only the beginning of how wide our reach can be.