Gaels Gather 'Round to Create an Original Musical

Watch our short video on how the Performing Arts Department and students created an original musical film. In a year where many canceled performances, the Performing Arts Department got to work creating an original musical, gather 'round, built around students.

The team worked virtually with industry professionals across the country to create a musical from the ground up, making their own music, writing the script, learning choreography, and even how to set up their own lighting and cameras. Challenging? Yes! But now a whole new set of skills— how to problem solve, how to tell a story, how to create—have been established. ⁠⁠

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Saint Mary's College Performing Arts Department proudly presents an original musical theatre short film, gather ‘round, written and composed by guest artist Karen Ann Daniels  (American Theatre Magazine’s “People To Watch,” April 2020), in collaboration with the student company. Visiting Professor in Performing Arts Victor Malana Maog directs a team of faculty, guest artists, and students in this creation that will have its digital world premiere on Tuesday, May 11th with an on-demand run through Sunday, May 23rd. 

Rounding out the artistic team are Antonio Brown (formerly of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company), choreographer, and Saint Mary's College Faculty: Dr. Sixto F. Montesinos Jr, musical director; Dr. Julie Ford, vocal coach; Deanna Zibello, production designer; and Matthew Cohen, production manager.

gather ‘round is an act of faith. From wherever we are, no matter our technological savvy, this project insists on our shared humanity. The Saint Mary’s community—through this short film—reminds us that we can dance, cry, laugh, sing and hold our fellow travelers close—no matter the distance,” said Artistic Director Maog.

Created, rehearsed, and edited in individuals’ own socially distant spaces, this innovative project features a group of young strangers trying to connect on a new online meeting space during a once in a lifetime mystical event and a once in a century pandemic. Will they find the connection they seek and will they unravel the mysteries of love, life and adulting before the stars appear to collide? With a memorable score and intimate stories, gather ‘round is a musical film for this most singular of times.

A songwriter since childhood, Ms. Daniels explains that her inspiration for this project began during the summer of 2020. Witnessing peaceful protests by Black folks together with allies, “I began to think about the movements of times past in comparison to today. Looking at the tidal wave of support, I began to wonder, Can this last? Will this finally be the moment for a sea change? How do we ensure we’ve broken the cycle of pain and violence, inequity and exclusion? Can we teach our children to be different than we were, or our parents tried to be?”

Drawing on her background in community engaged theatre, Ms. Daniels led the student company through a creation process that built original scenes from the writings, improvisations, and ideas of those in the ensemble—a rare opportunity at the undergraduate level. 

Maog has assembled a cast that reflects the diversity of Saint Mary’s student body and showcases the talents of the College’s award-winning Performing Arts Department. The students, who range from first-years to seniors, come from a wide variety of majors—including Communications, Women and Gender Studies, and of course, Performance and Theatre Studies. The ensemble includes Sejal Bahl, Ryanne Biernat, Hannah Chylinski, Trent Cox, Emily England, Collin Fisher (Sev), Naomi Kalter, Alex Mendiola, Zoe Prior, Raelaine San Buenaventura (Rae Lane), Sarah Shaughnessy, Will Thompson, and Gabriella Thomas. Instrumentalists include Eden Llodra, cello; Melanie Moyer, violin; Sarah Mameesh, flute; James Vaughan, saxophone; and Ryan Ford, guitar, Benjamin Harte, trombone. Crew members include Sophia Courtemarche (Stage Manager), Brenna Bortner, Rylee Cagle, Skyelar Clouse, Maya Dahlbacka, Audrey Edmondo, Nadine Mhedbi, and Torren Valera.