Here at Northeastern there are hundreds of great student organizations to get involved in! We want to highlight some that you may not know, so we’re interviewing members of student organizations to learn a little bit about them and what their club is about. Tune in every other week for a new post from The Club Chronicle!
The Club Chronicle Interview #9: NU Stage Musical Theater Company
Interview conducted on July 22nd, 2019
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and what you do in NU Stage?
My name is Sebastian Hymson and I am the president of NU Stage Musical Theater Company. I have been involved in Eboard for NU Stage since my very first semester. I was secretary for a year and a half, president for a year, and I music directed a show last spring. I have had my hand in pretty much everything NU Stage does. I’ve acted in at least one show every semester, if not two. I’ve done cabarets, revues, gone to build – the only thing I haven’t done is tech. Outside of that I’m a Bioengineer. NU Stage really attracts a lot of different people with different backgrounds. A lot of engineers are part of NU Stage, we definitely attract people outside of CAMD.
Can you describe what NU Stage does here on campus?
I like to say NU Stage is the premiere musical theater club on campus, but that’s because we’re the only one on campus. We’re completely student run. Everything from acting, directing, tech, and in some cases writing, we do everything. Nothing is done by anyone other than Northeastern students, and that includes graduate and undergraduate students. It builds a unique experience and community. You can get involved in every aspect of theater, whether it’s traditional singing and acting or whether you have stage fright and love to do the behind the scenes running set pieces or lighting or sound or if you’ve never done anything but have some sort of leadership experience and want to try directing, you can get involved. When it comes to people who are not traditionally involved in theater, the tech side gives an opportunity for engineers, social media marketers, and graphic designers, to get involved. It’s a great opportunity to add something meaningful to your resume and have a cool thing to add to your portfolio. You actually have a product to show at the end of the semester, that’s what makes us different than a lot of other clubs.
How long has NU Stage been around for?
We just had our 15 year anniversary last spring. We’ve been here since 03. NU Stage has changed a lot, our name even changed. We didn’t used to perform in Blackman, a bunch of other stuff has changed, we just recently added another show. The core essence of it being completely student run has stayed true.
Photo by Claire Pettit of NU Stage’s performance of Spring Awakening
What kinds of shows and events do you put on?
We do a lot. We have 3 full length shows. We have the mainstage show, which is a traditional musical show that we buy the rights to. Last spring was Spring Awakening, which I music directed. This fall we’re doing Adams Family directed by Eric Jewel. That will be our first show. Our second show we do is a revue, which is a show with songs around central themes. There are around 20 songs with 2 acts, so it’s a full length show. The theme usually has a progression. The theme for fall is sunrise sunset, ending and beginning, showing the dichotomy between them. In the middle of the show they’ll also show how beginnings can be confused with endings, the idea that dusk and dawn look similar. Some themes are more mentally stimulating, but with others we just have fun. We’ve had Disney themed revues, we had A Funny Thing, which was all about making people laugh. We also had the 7 deadly sins theme, so tackling a more intellectually stimulating topic. The third show now is a musical concert. There is some costuming, but we mostly focus on singing. There’s really no blocking or choreo, it’s really more vocally challenging. We did this type of show for the first time last semester. We did the Hunchback of Notre Dame, which is very operatic and it has full chorus on stage with 20-40 members. That’s a show we’d never be able to do in mainstage. The logistics of doing all that with all the singers, the choreo, and blocking, it wouldn’t be possible. The musical concert gives us a unique opportunity to showcase shows we wouldn’t normally do. And we can really showcase singing. Singing can sometimes fall to the wayside when you put other production elements into play like choreo. It’s good to really highlight that part of musical theater. Those are the 3 big shows we do each semester, but we do cabarets every other month. Those are smaller performances in After Hours with a central theme and it’s closer to 12-13 songs. People who aren’t involved in NU Stage or already are can audition with some song that speaks to them and the theme. It’s a great way to get involved in a low commitment way. We also do a 24 hour play festival in conjunction with other groups. We also do bonding and fundraising for NU Stage and other organizations we find promote the values that we believe in. We do a lot of LGBTQ+ related fundraising, whether it be for organizations that fight for LGBTQ+ rights or something like the Trevor project. We have a pride themed cabaret every year where proceeds go toward an LGBT + focused organization. There’s also a lot of administrative stuff we do. It’s hard to organize all those people, we have close to 300-400 people involved with all of our shows. There’s really a lot of people behind the scenes that don’t always get the recognition they deserve.
What is your favorite show you’ve done?
Spring awakening, I music directed it. I think it’s a combination of me coming back from being abroad and feeling at home again. It’s a very emotional show and I thought we did an excellent job of putting it on. It’s one of my favorite shows because I think I got really close with almost everyone in the cast because I was on Pstaff. When you’re a part of the show on stage it’s easy to get close with a subgroup of people in the same numbers as you, but I worked with everyone. It was a new side of NU Stage for me. I’ve never been on Pstaff because you can’t when you’re on Eboard, and I think that also made it a cool experience.
How do you normally advertise your shows and events?
On our website and Facebook page. We have instagram we post a lot on, but it’s not a lot of information about events. Sometimes we’ll post about events there but I would say our Facebook is #1 and website is #2 source. On the website you’ll get info a little slower and Facebook has more immediate info. We also have a mailchimp you can join through our website.
Photo by Claire Pettit of NU Stage’s revue 7 Deadly Sins.
What is your Facebook page and website?
Facebook is NU Stage musical theater company. Our website is actually new it’s nustagemtc.org. That will have videos and photo galleries, mostly promotional things. We’re looking to put together a compilation video from each show. It will also have cast lists and where you can get your tickets as well as information about our events.
Where can students find you at welcome week?
Tuesday of welcome week is when all the theater orgs have a welcome week info session where we talk about all of our clubs so everyone can come talk about that. Then that Thursday we have our full info meeting where we give information about auditions. Then Friday is the tech information meeting. Saturday is our summer revue performance, we are definitely performing at 8pm and might also try to do an afternoon performance in the Curry Ballroom. Auditions for our Mainstage show will be the week after Welcome Week, that Sunday through Monday and callbacks are Tuesday. Revue auditions will be Wednesday and Thursday with callbacks on Friday. Musical concert auditions will be the Saturday and Sunday with callbacks on Monday.
You talked about your audition schedule a bit, how else can students get involved?
It depends on what aspect of theater. If you want to be in a show you should audition, we have our week long auditions for the 3 shows in starting right in early September. If you want to be involved in tech, then come to the tech info meeting. There’s a bunch of opportunities for positions we leave open so freshman and new students can get involved in entry level positions. If you want to be in the pit then you can audition for the band. We need so many people for the band because we have 3 different pits. If you’re interested in administration reach out to people on Eboard or anyone in the club or message us through the form on our website. That form comes to me and I can triage to the right person or I can find a position for you. If we can’t find a position that fits we can also create one. I can think of a bunch of times where people have come with ideas that they want to bring to NU Stage and have made positions to represent that. For example Julia Barksdale was interested in sustainability and being green in the use of props and the sets, so she founded the position of green team manager. I forget the exact name, but it’s based off organization that promotes sustainability in theater and she helped to increase the sustainability of NU Stage. There are a million ways to get involved, just reach out if you don’t find an easy avenue to get involved.
What’s one thing you wished people knew about your club?
Sometimes I think people get intimidated by NU Stage because we do all these full productions and they can feel intimidated by the time commitment. But there are other less time consuming ways to be involved like cabarets or doing one number in the revue. You can still be an active part of the revue without doing 4 numbers. One thing people also don’t know is we have all these administrative things going on and we’re always understaffed. We don’t have enough people to fill the roles because people don’t know about it. Or they weren’t aware of it for years and now they don’t want to get involved because they’re on their way out and graduating. That’s why I didn’t want to be president next semester, because I’m graduating, I wanted someone to pass it down to. There’s plenty of opportunities behind the scenes that will ensure you’ll have a lasting impact on the organization.
Photo by Claire Pettit of NU Stage’s musical concert, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
What is your favorite thing about being involved in NU Stage?
We end up having a lot of different people from a lot of different majors and backgrounds together to put on these shows. In shows that have some emotional aspects where personal experiences can play a big role, having a variety of people who might have that experience that you can talk to and relate to makes us put on numbers that hit the heart of what that number is supposed to be. It’s great to meet such a variety of people at Northeastern, and I know a lot of other clubs I’m a part of are just major based. Like if you’re a bioengineer you’re in the bioengineer club. NU Stage is unique in that it pulls from a large group of majors. It gives it a unique vibe and experience and provides opportunities to people who may not have had an opportunity to do theater because it’s not in their major.