My freshman year of college my voice teacher (the Mariann Cook) talked to me about other opportunities that I could take advantage of at the my time at Rider. I was a musical theatre student so the majority of my curriculum was geared toward performing. Mariann knew that I loved to write music though. She told me that if I ever wanted to write something she would help me reserve a space so I could put it up. And so the journey began!
I started writing Between the Lines my freshman year at Rider. I didn't know what it was or how much it would mean to me when I started, I just knew that I wanted to make something. I headed to the Lake House practice rooms and started writing.
"It's time for me to finally make a choice,
to take a leap for my heart or for my voice
I know that I can never win this fight
But that's life not always black or white."
These were the very first lyrics I wrote for the show. They would soon become the main musical theme and the central storyline to the show. I grabbed some friends who I had wanted to write for and showed them the song. They loved it! We stayed up almost all night writing music and talking about the story. I wrote three or four songs that night; I was just so excited.
As the weeks went on I continued to work on the show and it slowly took shape. More songs developed, characters emerged and Between the Lines was growing rapidly. I spent all my time working on the show. I wrote music, worked with actors, finalized the script and so much more. Over the summer after my freshman year, I made arrangements through Mariann to reserve the black box theatre for a weekend right at the beginning of the new school year. I was messaging all of my friends to let them know about the performance. We had a cast and a crew and our one shot to do the show.
When we got back to school we had a single week to put the production up. We rehearsed tirelessly. Cast members learned music and choreography, the crew helped me build our simple set and hook up lights, everyone could not have been more amazing for all the work they did. Finally the weekend came. We had one dress rehearsal and then the real show the next day. The rehearsal went pretty well seeing as it was the first time we actually did the show together. I was excited to share this project but still very nervous.
On the day of the show I don't know how I functioned. I was so jittery! I had never shared something I created at this magnitude before. What if it was terrible and no one liked it? I decided to put those thoughts out of my head and focus on the work at hand. There was plenty. We set up the piano and lights and set and printed and folded programs. We set up chairs and cleaned the black box. I did last minute rehearsals with anyone that wanted to run something. Finally it was time to open the house.
People showed up! I couldn't have been more happy. Slowly one by one people started to filter into the theatre. Pretty soon it was standing room only in the back. The energy in the room was electric. Everyone was very excited; the cast the audience and especially me. When we were set to go, I gave a nod to my friend who hit the light switch for the audience. I stepped up onto the stage and every one cheered. I gave my little speech (who knows what I said) and introduced my new original musical Between the Lines.
The lights faded and I walked over to my piano. I took a deep breath and started to play. It was amazing. Every moment of that 45 minute period was a dream. People laughed and cried and cheered for the show. I couldn't believe it. When it was over and the cast started taking their bows, everyone in the audience stood up and applauded them. I will never forget the moment when they all gestured to me though, everyone with huge smiles on their faces, and the audience cheered. It was incredible. Getting to work with your friends is one of the greatest opportunities in the world, and that was without a doubt a highlight of my life.
After the show we did a talk back, which means that the cast and crew talked to the audience about their thoughts on the show. The overall consensus was that people loved it. They told me to keep going with it. I was very excited and took their advice. Since that day we have workshopped Between the Lines two more times and I am still working on it now. The joy I got from creating that show will stay with me forever. I will always aim to work on more projects like Between the Lines in my life and even hope to better the show itself. But that first edition in the black box theatre at Rider University will always be my favorite. I will never forget that moment.
The original 2013 workshop of Between the Lines at Rider University