Cal U students collaborate to write & score musical

domandtonyTypically the California University Theatre Department sits down with the faculty a year in advance to select six shows for the upcoming year. The selections are made to meet the needs of the program, students and community. This year, however, there is one slight wrinkle. One of the performances will be a student written and scored musical.

The name of the production is Yet Another Funeral, music and lyrics by Dominic A. Carrola with libretto by Anthony N. Carrola and directed by California University of Pennsylvania Professor, Dr. Michele A. Pagen.

“The production started out as just a simple suggestion back in 2014 between Dominic and myself while working on Miracle on 34th Street, the Musical,” Dr. Pagen recalls.

Following that conversation, Dom (pictured right, seated) took to writing, rewriting, and then rewriting some more. He desperately wanted Anthony (pictured left, standing) in on the project who was not interested in musicals, but leaned more towards more dramatic, action-oriented projects. Dom eventually convinced him to team up. They went to work. Tracking various storylines in multiple directions, the pair settled on a concept we all deal with, loss.

“There’s kind of this mindset people have about getting what they want,” Anthony explains. “Things that people want versus what it is that they lose. This is the core of the story.”

Character rich, Dom tapped his own past for things that inspired him musically.

“I grew up in a culture of Disney and musicals. Disney always gives a culture to the music as if it is an additional character to the film,” Dom added. “Then the characters of course. I was influenced by the Dickens story, ‘Our Mutual Friend,’ which combined psychological insight with social analysis.”

Doctor Pagen is beyond excited to be directing the effort. When asked about working with students and engaging the entire process of self-production, she feels humbled.

“I marvel at the trust students put in me,” Michele stated. “It’s really exciting if you think about it. I told the cast they will be the first cast to ever play these roles, ever.”

Currently the musical is in pre-production and has just been casted.

Additional information including a behind the scenes peak, interviews with cast and crew and inside rehearsal coverage of this landmark production will be in the next issue of Pennsylvania Bridges.

Assistant Director is Bethany Swan*; Choreographer is Maria Gismondi; Music Director is Yugo Ikach; Lighting and Projection Designer is Deb Peelor; Scenic and Properties Designer is Sabrina Hykes-Davis; Costume Designer is Joni J. Farquhar; Production Stage Manager is Kellee Cohlhepp*; Michael Meketa is the Orchestrator*

Dates for the show are: April 7, 8 and 9 at 8 p.m., April 9 at 2 p.m. Department Preview April 6 at 8 p.m at Steele Hall’s Mainstage Theatre. Tickets are .50 for students with a CalCard, $12 for the public. Call 724-938-5943.
Story by Fred Terling for Pennsylvania Bridges