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.
Without the aid of adults, and facing limited budget and resources, Eric and Ryan were the sole creative forces behind the production - from scouting rehearsal locations and performance spaces, to the coordination of all technical elements of the production, casting, and dealing with fundraising and administrative duties.
To kick-off this year's Student Center
, 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 first blog entry in 'The Road to 'Dear Journal: The Musical'. Check back soon for another instalment!THE ROAD TO: 'Dear Journal: The Musical'BLOG #1: BEGINNING
Dear Journal: The Musical
Leg 1: ran from 11/10-2/25
Opening Cast: Ryan Hurley, Will S, Nate S. Eric Gelb, Nicole F, Leah P, Jen W, McKenzie M.
"The seed of an idea for a teen produced musical was planted in the fall of 2011. Ryan, my best friend, tentatively asked me my thoughts about doing our own musical. Of course I obliged but the question was, "How?" We were both 7th grade boys. We couldn't pull off our musical - could we?
We knew we wanted to base a show off something that we could have audiences relate to. Ultimately, it was decided that doing a show about middle school would be the best choice. We were experiencing it at the moment, and thought that the troubles we face everyday would translate well onto the stage. It was decided that Ryan and I would both direct the piece. Ryan, a veteran of the stage, was used to the spotlight. First appearing in his first show as Charlie in 'Willy Wonka', he continued to participate in musicals around our community. Ryan also performed with the Michigan Opera Theatre
's Children's Chorus for 3 years. After deciding that Ryan would take care of the libretto and I was in charge of the internal business, we were well on our way to writing a musical.
Ryan began work on the script and by late winter, I had a first draft of the first few scenes. I remember laughing out loud- it was hysterical. So far, we had 4 different kids in their respective houses writing in their journals about their expectations of middle school. It seemed good enough. Now that we were on our way with a great script, I decided it was time to start looking for somewhere to present the piece. The problem was, all the theatres in the area are theatres that stage their own productions every couple months, and did not have space for "outside" productions to use their space. After a couple months of looking at different spaces, my mom made a couple calls and Ryan and I met with Tina, the youth librarian at our local library. She agreed to donate the Gallery space downstairs for our rehearsal space and performance space. It was now up to me to figure out how to convert an art gallery into a fully equipped black box theatre and how to fit the scenery through the door. Scenery was also becoming a problem. We had basically no budget as of yet - what were we going to do?
Meanwhile, Ryan hit a wall. Act 1 was finished, but Act 2 wasn't quite complete and several plot lines simply didn't have time to be wrapped up in a two hour show. No music had been written, and auditions were tentatively scheduled for April 23rd. Scenery, Lighting, Costumes and staging had barely been started - and Ryan and I started to worry..."
DEAR JOURNAL began touring across the Michigan area in 2011-2012 with more venues planned for 2013.
To learn more about DEAR JOURNAL, visit their Facebook page here
Photo of Eric Gelb
Ryan testing the space
Entrance to stage area - the wings hadn't been constructed yet
Would-be storage area