WT’s Theater Program stream [title of show]


Jonah Dietz

The Medley Cast sing the untitled opening number.

Jonah Dietz, Senior Reporter

West Texas A&M University’s Theater program streamed four student performances of “[title of show],” a meta musical about the writing of a musical, from April 8 to April 11. The musical, written by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell and originally performed by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell explores the creation of a musical by being a musical about the writing, casting, editing and performing of the musical being performed. 

The piece was double cast and the Festival cast, which streamed on April 8 and 9, included Aidan Tsichlis, junior musical theatre major, as Jeff; Mitch Grosso, senior musical theatre major, as Hunter; Hayley Hurst, junior musical theatre major, as Heidi; and Socorra Carrillo, senior musical theatre major, as Susan. The Medley cast, which streamed on April 10 and 11, included Nolan Quintanilla, sophomore musical theatre major, as Jeff; Zane Wells, junior acting major, as Hunter; Anna Holmes, senior musical theatre major, as Heidi; and Erin Gayan, senior musical theatre major, as Susan.

The set design was minimalistic but realistic, showing the audience a mediocre but artistically bold New York apartment. The performances were jubilant and energetic, matching the energy of the self-aggrandising original. And it is the earnest passion and enjoyable delivery of the actors that helps stifle the somewhat stuffy, self-referential source material that, at times, becomes too tediously conceptual to become invested in.

It is, after all, a distinctly self-servingly meta piece. “It’s a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical,” said director Stephen Crandall, Professor of Theatre and head of WTAMU’s Department of Art, Theatre and Dance. “This is a surprisingly complex show, but it’s also so simple in regards to the premise… and it’s a lot of fun, too.”

“A, D, D, D, D, F sharp, A, will be the first notes of our show,” Nolan Quintanilla as Jeff sang, opening the show with a perfect encapsulation of the journey on which the audience was about to be strung along. It is a musical about musicals, and about musicals in the sense that it is about those behind the musical. This isn’t a hero’s journey or an in-depth contemplation on how musicals change lives abstractly. It is about those that write the words, those that act them out, and the insecurities of self-ascribed New York theater lovers as they craft a piece of theater that will never play as well anywhere else. The players aren’t “self-aware” as they are self-appreciating.

But as Grosso said regarding the double casting, “we’re watching each other do the exact same thing. I’ve stolen stuff from Zane, and maybe he’s stolen from me. It’s really cool to work alongside someone with the exact same role.” The cast is having fun, and if the references don’t speak to you, the energy of the cast will. They shine bright and make it worthwhile, and if you like stories about struggling New York writers and actors singing about writing and acting, then this is the show for you.