DEAR JOURNAL is an original musical centering around four teenagers' lives as they enter Middle School. The show tackles youth-centric issues such as popularity, peer pressure, betrayals, and coming into one's own identity. Conceived, directed, and produced entirely by two seventh-graders, Eric Gelb and Ryan Hurley, DEAR JOURNAL's path to the stage is an inspiring one.
BroadwayWorld approached DEAR JOURNAL's co-creator Eric Gelb to blog about the team's challenges, rewards and lessons in putting together the production.
Below is Eric's final blog entry, along with some production photos. If you've missed previous entries, catch up here!
THE ROAD TO: 'Dear Journal: The Musical'
Blog #7: One Year Ago Today
A year ago today, 'Project X-The Musical' had its world premiere at the Huntington Woods Library for the first time.
A year has passed since the curtain went up at 6:35. Project X has completely changed my life. Any of you that do musicals know that performing in a musical isn't a small feat. Being 13 and producing, directing and designing an original musical and touring it to 4 venues isn't easy at all. Not only did Project X teach me theatre skills I'll keep with me for the rest of my career, it has taught me more about myself that I ever thought I would. Performing the show was an absolute dream. There is a moment in the show - at the end - where Max has the realisation - the acceptance and the friendship to make him happy has been right in front of him all along.
Being able to look over and see the characters Ryan and I had created was the most magical feeling.
Project X has opened doors for me. I have the pleasure of working on theatre readings in NYC, political projects, meet amazing people that love and accept me and helped me work with some of the most inspiring people I've ever met- my cast, and of course the Keenan-Bolgers. This show has done nothing but good for me and it will be an experience I'll always treasure.
Tina took a chance on us by opening up the venue to us. The Patch, The JN, Skykid and C&G all took a chance on us by running articles for us. Thank you: to my fantastic cast. You mean the word to me. my crew. Thanks for colouring my world. To l.j, Tina, Matt, Robyn, Jack, and star trax. You've provided logos, space, equipment and an awesome outlet for the show. Thank you Maggie, Celia and Andrew. Your success even after living out of Detroit, like me has inspired me more than you'll ever know. Thank you to Stagecrafters from some of our beautiful set pieces.
Thank you to Ryan, my best friend, for helping me find my way.
All of your endless work and dedication, long hours of re-writes and improv swapping, and rehearsals that seemed pointless meant the world to me. Thank you to Noura my amazing dresser. Leena, my fantastic assistant. You'll never know how much you mean to me. Sakina, Lauryn and the rest of the wig/makeup team, you're amazing.
But most of all, thank you to Legally Blonde for inspiring me with the beauty and essence of theatre that I try to bring to every show I do. I'll never forget the first time I saw LB and thinking "This is it. this is what I need to be doing."
That one night in November, and a group of individuals can really make a difference. Project X will always be in my heart. There were so many "No's". You're too young, you don't have enough money, you're not mature enough. Even when five 20-second quick changes seemed impossible and when our male lead was stricken with a serious health disease, we pushed forward. To prove to everyone that even when you're a little, that doesn't mean you can't make your dreams come true.
28 quick changes, two bottles of hairspray and onn yard of Velcro later...
I remember when I was standing in the venue with Ryan hanging curtains where I had confessed that I thought I was Bi.
I really am blessed to be able to work with such amazing performing artists. Today is, no doubt, the most important day of my life. I'm tearing up right now.
"I'm standing here today because you helped me find my way."
-Legally Blonde the Musical.
DEAR JOURNAL began touring across the Michigan area in 2011-2012 with more venues planned for 2013.