By Molly Bello
It’s no surprise that Bridgewater State University’s theater department is both popular and successful. This year the school is being recognized for their musical put on in the fall, Painted Alice.
The musical, written by Bridgewater State alum William Donnelly, will be featured in the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival.
“[This festival showcases] some of the best work in collegiate theater for the year,” said Matt Greene of BSU’s theater department management. “It’s not only a showcase of the year’s best work, but also a place for students and faculty to engage in workshops led by folks at the forefront of the theater industry.”
Painted Alice’s recognition is meaningful to not only the students and faculty who helped put the show together, but also to Donnelly, who graduated from BSU in the early 90’s.
“My wife and I were brainstorming a new project—we’ve been collaborating on original plays since our time at Bridgewater in the early ‘90s—and I asked her what sort of story she was interested in directing next,” said Donnelly in a letter from the author. “She said she wanted to do something either inspired by Alice in Wonderland or something about an artist who gets lost in her own painting.”
Students were grateful that Painted Alice did so well and were able to relive the experience.
“The KCACTF is an amazing opportunity.” student actor Danni Vitorino said.
“I’m so glad we got to bring our show, a new work by William Donnelly. The whole audience was filled with fellow performers there for the festival as well and the energy was incredible. I’m really happy I got to perform Painted Alice one last time.”
Painted Alice’s success was unique, as the show itself was no ordinary BSU performance.
“While we often do new works here at BSU, we don’t often do new musicals,” Greene said. “Developing a new musical is more complex than just a new play, there’s more to consider, adding complexities of music, both singing by the actors and playing instruments by the musicians and choreography.
When we started producing this musical, there weren’t even parts written for the orchestra to play. All we had was a piano score and a vocal score.”
The production of the show was a long and hard process, for everyone involved.
“[Painted Alice’s] success is due greatly to the hard work and diligence paid by BSU students and alums,” Greene said. “Our students worked on this production every night starting at 6 p.m. and often going past the closure time of the RCC. Doing theater or dance at BSU requires just as much commitment as playing on a sports team, but there’s no offseason for theater and dance majors.”
The achievement of being selected for the festival is impressive, but Greene says there’s more than that to be proud of.
“The best benefit from the show being selected was that it gave our students the opportunity to connect with peers and professionals at the conference,” Greene said. “Taking workshops with peers and learning from some of the best professionals in the area is a wonderful opportunity for our students. Plus, the chance to perform Painted Alice one more time with an audience of 100 percent theater-lovers is a great treat.”
Molly Bello is The Comment’s Living-Arts Editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.