Musical-loving students now have the opportunity to be part of a student-led show, thanks to an organization working to produce their first musical on campus.
Round About Players, a small student-led production company, has produced many plays but has not tackled a musical in several years until theatre and dance senior Malyssa Quiles proposed a feasible rendition of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Theatre and dance junior Kyle Cordova, the organization’s art director, said musicals are difficult to produce because of their higher production costs.
“I remember when Malyssa first mentioned she wanted to pitch ‘Hunchback’ and I was like, ‘Alright, that’s crazy. I’m not going to stop you but we probably can’t’,” Cordova said. “Then she came through with the pitch and it was really well put together, and the art director at the time said, ‘Well, looking at the numbers, we could actually afford this.’”
Quiles’ pitch accommodated for the company’s small scale and budget by reworking elements of the show, including replacing some of the more elaborate props with pantomime and choreography.
“In the original production there’s these huge bells that hang and ring and move,” Quiles said. “Of course we can’t have that in our space at all, there’s no room for it … We have to figure out creative ways to get around some things we just can’t use.”
Round About Players set up a Hornraiser in early September, asking for $4,400 to help fund the purchase of the copyright, the costumes and other production equipment. As of Thursday, the organization has raised about $500.
Regardless of fundraising results, this production will be the first student musical on campus since the UT Department of Theatre and Dance’s musical theatre training program officially ended in the spring.
Acting professor Lucien Douglas said the administration is setting the musical theatre program aside until the department can meet the program’s needs.
“We just need bigger facilities to do it properly,” Douglas said. “That just means more physical space and more faculty and more budget. So if we couldn’t do it as properly as it should be done, we just felt it was probably best to put it aside for a while.”
Quiles, the director for “Hunchback,” was an assistant director on the theatre program’s final production last spring, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Quiles said she has wanted to direct “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” since she heard the score two years ago. She did not pitch the show as a reaction to the program closing, but instead sees it as an opportunity to give students who like musical theatre a chance to be a part of a production.
“When I first pitched the show, I really just wanted to do it because I loved the story and the characters, I love everything about it,” Quiles said. “After it got accepted, I realized this could provide a few opportunities for students. We don’t really get to work on musicals very often, it’s kind of hard to find them here in Austin, so if I could provide that opportunity for someone, I’m going to try.”