Today we’d like to introduce you to Sebastian Hymson.
Sebastian, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Founded in 2003 as The Great White Way by NU students Dave Wright and Molly Fitzgibbon, our organization has since grown enormously. Renamed NU Stage Musical Theater Company in 2010, the group has always been entirely student-run. Members of all majors may apply or audition to participate in any and all aspects of production including, but not limited to, performance, direction, design, tech, and much more.
NU Stage’s goal of producing high-quality productions in which both members and patrons can take pride is assured by peer-elected student leaders on the executive board and creative teams. Together, we strive to provide a safe, respectful, and educational community for all those who are passionate about musical theater.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, it has not always been a smooth road. From the inception of our group about 15 years ago our biggest challenge has been finding the resources needed to support our constantly growing company. One of these resources is the people needed to make the group run effectively. We have had to add numerous Executive Board position (Technical Coordinator, Assistants of Band and Crew AKA ABC’s) and Production Staff positions (Media Coordinator, Props Master) to keep up with the complexities of the technical aspects of our group as well as the increased administrative needs of the group with a membership of more than 100 students each semester. We have also had the challenge of providing additional opportunities for our talented membership.
Our Revues are quickly approaching maximum capacity and we are looking to maybe in the future add another show each semester, but unfortunately, there are many other obstacles that accompany this addition one of which being finding space for rehearsals and the performance. Another challenge we have faced is finding the space at the university that is suitable for our needs. With a Revue cast of over 60 students, rehearsing large numbers is almost impossible in the classrooms where we have our weekly rehearsals. Because of this, we have tried to find alternative places to have rehearsal around campus so that we can be fully prepared to perform these numbers. Space for the building and storage of our sets and props has also been a huge issue in recent years.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to find a readily accessible and large enough space to store our sets and props on campus so a large amount of these are stored in a storage unit, paid for by the group, and warehouse off campus which is both inconvenient and has lad to issues with transportation of these to campus. This challenge is something we are actively working to overcome and hope to in upcoming years. I would say the last large obstacle that we have faced in recent years is learning to represent ourselves as a professional and credible group. As our presence and influences has grown in the community, both in Boston and in the theater community in general (partnering with TodayTix, a ticketing app in NYC), we have had to overcome our prior perception of ourselves as just a college group and start to present ourselves as a full-fledged theater company, putting on high quality productions and contributing to the stunning Boston theater scene.
Please tell us about NU Stage Musical Theater Company.
NU Stage Musical Theater Company is the only completely student-run musical theater company at Northeastern University. This means everything from directing, acting, tech, build, band and administration are run by students at Northeastern University. Each year we currently put on a total of 5 shows, 2 of which are Mainstages, which are your traditional musical theater shows that you may see on Broadway or tour around the country. Some of the Mainstages we have done in the past include Catch Me If You Can (Fall 2015), The Drowsy Chaperone (Spring 2016), Godspell (Fall 2016), American Idiot (Spring 2017) and Heathers, the Mainstage that we are currently working on for the Fall 2017 semester. The other 3 shows that we put on each year are called Revues and we do one each semester as well as one over the summer. These shows, unlike Mainstages, are creations of our group. Each semester students run to direct the Revue with a specific theme in mind and the show is a culmination of songs around this central theme and tell some sort of story.
Also unlike our Mainstages, there are no cuts for the Revue so these cast sizes have grown significantly in recent years and currently average to be about 60-70 cast members with 20-30 other students involved in the band, tech and production staff. Some of our previous Revues include Revenge of the Villains (Fall 2015), Revels, Revolutionaries and Radicals (Spring 2016), Side by Side by Side (Fall 2016), A Funny Thing (Spring 2017) and Unsung Heroes the Revue we are currently working on. We also put on numerous other smaller shows throughout the semester including 2 cabarets per semester and our 8 to 8: 24-hour play festival. Because NU Stage is entirely student-run, all the decisions are made by the students at our semesterly voting meeting where our active membership is able to vote on who they would like to see serve on their administrative body (Executive Board), on their creative teams for the shows (Production Staffs), and what show they would like to perform at the Mainstage in the following semester. Our rehearsals take place each evening after classes at the university of 6-11pm with the Revue rehearsing from 6-830pm and the Mainstage rehearsing from 830-11pm. Rehearsals are typically Monday through Thursday with the occasional Friday and Large Space rehearsals on Sundays when we are able to book larger rehearsal spaces on campus instead of the weekly rooms we are given by the university.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I would say that my favorite childhood memory is the first time I performed as a part of a musical. It was in the 4th grade and as a very small 9-year old I had the pleasure to play the role of Troy in High School Musical in a musical theater after school group. For a 9-year-old, it was not the easiest to memorize all of those lines and lyrics and I remember waking up every morning before school with my mom to rehearse and memorized my lines which she would run with me. I have been told that I “ran the show”, making faces at the tech people and directing them if they turned the lights up on the stage too early during a scene, helping with all other tech aspects of the show while still performing in the show and mouthing the words to all of the songs even if I wasn’t supposed to be singing (this is hopefully a habit that I have broken since then). Musical theater has always been a huge part of my life since then and I can’t image my life without it.
- Tickets to our show for Northeastern University Students and Faculty = $0
- Tickets to our shows for non-Northeastern University = $10
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Elisa Figueras, Marian Gallo, Hayden Graham, Claire Pettit