After hours and hours of outlining, writing, composing and brainstorming, senior James Fischer completed the largest project of his life, “Control, Alt., Delete” a musical he spent the better part of a year working on, despite the fact that the idea for the play came to him quickly.
“Once I got the main concept of the play, the rest was just putting the pieces together,” Fischer said.
Last spring Fischer began the process of hammering out the first student-written, directed and composed musical in Dexter Drama Directing Series, or 3D, history.
Four years ago, eight upperclassmen taking Erin Palmer’s drama class realized they wanted to do more than perform three plays each year. The class wanted to write its own plays, thus creating the 3D series which has produced a variety of original and unusual work including “Scrubs: The Musical.”
Although each year Copeland auditorium fills its 150-200 seats for the series, this is the first year for a student-directed musical.
And although Fischer’s play is indeed a musical, he said he considers his play a drama with a little comedy.
“There’s isolation, and it shows how a human can connect with something that is not human,” Fischer said.
The musical involves the state of Alaska, a doctor, a penguin and a robot, contains 10 songs and spans about an hour. Seniors Harrison Kane and Natalie Burdick are the only characters in the musical.
As for inspiration, Fischer said composer Stephen Sondheim played a motivating role.
“When I listen to him, I just wanna write,” Fischer said. “Heís my hero.”
Regardless of who he admires, Palmer said the best part of working with Fischer, is his talent combined with his character.
“He has a gift, really, whether it’s singing it, playing it, designing it. Plus he’s very dedicated and humble about it,” she said.
And while his is the only original musical being produced, senior Havah Roussel created the other original piece being performed, “Etta,” a one-act drama.
Roussel said she got the idea by following Palmer’s advice of “writing what you know,” and created a production of an elderly woman learning how to use an iPhone.
Such experiences allow students to gain valuable leadership skills and experience from directing their own production, Palmer said. In addition, she said there are many benefit to having students run their own productions.
“It’s not about me. What’s important is that the students get to run their own auditions, their own rehearsals, and really take a leadership role,” she said.
“Control. Alt. Delete” premieres March 6 and March 8, and Fischer said he’s ready for the performance, the largest undertaking he’s been involved with.
He said, “This is probably the biggest project I’ve even done in my entire life to be honest.”