The story we all need: SRU’s world premiere of Making Melrose

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Slippery Rock University’s Theater Department is jumping into the spring semester with a world premiere musical titled Making Melrose. 

A new piece by Daniel Lincoln and Omri Schein, as well as directed by new member of the SRU Theater Department, Aaron Galligan-Stierle, it is bound to be a great show.

The shows will be streamed Jan. 28, 29 and 30. Once purchased, ticket-holders will receive a link for the show on the date they purchased. The link lasts the whole day, giving viewers a chance to watch the show whenever works best for them.

Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for non-SRU students.

Aaron Galligan-Stierle is a temporary hire in the theater department with his hands full with directing two shows and teaching in both the previous fall semester and this spring. Theater in a pandemic is a challenge, and is still a leap many have not taken. Stierle did not let this stop him as he took on the duty of directing Making Melrose.

The show was commissioned for Slippery Rock University and was made based off of the auditions and cast. Stierle had reached out to the two writers, pitching this project and they all worked hard, with the cast, to bring this small idea to life. It has exceeded everyone’s expectations.

The digital process of creating this show presented challenges for everyone. Stierle touched on this by saying, “many of the students had never met each other. I have never set foot on campus, I have been teaching remotely in New York City for the entire year. None of us had met in person. There were lots of technical issues in terms of capturing the project.”

Despite these challenges, Stierle said it would not have been possible without two important members of the production. He claimed AJ Sannsonetti and Denise Vonada, his “MVPs,” were both valuable to the show.

Sansonetti, associate director of Making Melrose, offered up insightful ideas and helped to keep things flowing by reading parts when needed. Vonada, the stage manager, “always kept balls in the air and was constantly juggling all of the pieces to make sure it all worked and came together.”

There were four professionals brought onto the project from New York City. Will Schuler, music director; Alan Waters, video editor; and writers Daniel Lincoln and Omri Schein.

By having the students work this closely to professionals, they gained new skills and new relationships in the industry. Sterile wants to start building bridges between Slippery Rock University and the larger theater industry.

Daniel Lincoln, who wrote the music for Making Melrose, was impressed with the maturity, preparedness and professionalism of the student cast. He says, “I knew they would rise to the challenge. I felt like I was working with a team of professionals.” Omri Schein, lyrcist for the show, took on similar feelings.

Not only was it a breeze working with the students, but the collaboration between writers and the director were seamless. Everyone always was on the same page and was able to contribute ideas in an environment that encouraged creativity.

Schein added that he was “. . .extremely grateful for this opportunity and to share this with the students and being able to create something new. If it wasn’t for this pandemic, we probably wouldn’t even be doing this right now.”

Students of the cast seemed to reflect the same feelings. Alawna Mallory, a sophomore playing the role of Jamie King, had no idea how this experience was going to change her life as an actress.

She describes her internal thoughts going, ‘this is new and I am very afraid, but I can take it.”

Abby Malczon, a freshman in the theater department playing the role of Cassidy Winters, loved being a part of this show. Malczon described this show as creative, funny, witty and full of love.

“It’s the story we need right now. I would say it’s 90 minutes of comedy and love and all of that good stuff we need now more than ever.”

Making Melrose has changed the people in this project’s outlook on theater, especially during a pandemic. With many people feeling isolated and overwhelmed with everything in the world right now, this show is a perfect way to find positive feelings in such a hard time.

More information about the show is listed on CORE. Be sure to pick up your ticket for the virtual viewing. If there are any more questions regarding Making Melrose, Aaron Galligan-Stierle can be contacted at a.galligan-stierle@sru.edu.

Sarah Anderson is a freshman integrated marketing communications major with a love for writing. As a high school senior she held a position as editor-in-chief for the high school newspaper and that experience has led her to get involved with The Rocket as campus life editor. Beyond working for The Rocket, Sarah works part time and spends her down time taking frequent naps. Although she has only been contributing for one semester, she can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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