Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Student Blog: I'm Beginning to See the Light

Student Blog: I'm Beginning to See the Light

The story of how I followed my dreams... literally.

It's an early morning in February. I'm in a high school classroom surrounded by the rest of the junior class. A nervous excitement fills the room. My friends talk amongst themselves in hushed voices.

"What is it? What's going on?" I ask.

"They're announcing the fall musical." Someone behind me replies.

Someone clears their throat. Then, a silence. Our director, Mr. Sniegocki stands at the front of the classroom. Everyone holds their breath, myself included.

"Next fall, Harrison School for the Arts will be doing something they have never done before. We will devising our own, brand new musical, featuring the music of The Dough Boys!"

And then I woke up, panicked. We were devising a musical with music by The Dough Boys? Are the Dough Boys even real? And I promptly googled The Dough Boys, a jazz quartet who thankfully only existed in my dreams.

But as I was walking to the bus stop that cold morning in February, I thought to myself what would a Dough Boys jukebox musical even look like? As I waited for the bus, I put my music on shuffle and continued to ponder this idea, while a familiar melody crept into my ears.

Student Blog: I'm Beginning to See the Light
The Ink Spots album
Sincerely Yours is named after

"I don't want to set the world on fire, I just want to start a flame in your heart..."

And it hit me. The Dough Boys may not have been real, but the Ink Spots were.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, is this story going somewhere? And I promise, it is.

I mentioned in my last blog post that I'm a writer, one who loves all things theatre. And that story, or rather, this story, is about how I wrote my first full length musical: Sincerely Yours.

It began with that dream, and my extensive knowledge of the Ink Spots discography, which spans 20 years. The Ink Spots, for those of you who might not know, were a popular doo-wop group in the 30s and 40s that I'd discovered through the game Fallout 4. I'd always found something so nostalgic about all of their music, and somewhere among the hundreds of songs was a story to be told.

To tell that story, I started with a list of romantic stereotypes: the meet-cute, the hopeless romantic, the military wife, the widower, etc. And then, I assigned them all a couple of songs that I thought would fit their characters. I decided to set this collection of stories in a coffee shop named after a relatively famous Ink Spots song, The Java Jive.

While I was quite satisfied with this concept, there was something missing. I presented this idea to Mr. Sniegocki (my acting teacher and director) and he agreed. The characters and their individual stories were interesting, but shared no connection aside from the story's setting. He suggested introducing a narrator, maybe even the ghosts of the Ink Spots, in order to find a common thread.

I liked the idea of using ghosts and memories, and used this as the cornerstone for the new narrative, one about love, loss, and learning to move on. I started by taking that list of romantic stereotypes and condensing them into four leading characters: James Hawthorne, Katherine Beaumont Hawthorne, Ely Reinhardt, and Oliver Sinclair.

James is a widower, one who spends his days reliving his favorite memories of his late wife Katherine. He befriends Ely, a young teenager working at the Java Jive, trying to find love while struggling with his sexuality. He eventually meets Oliver, a patron of the coffee shop, and the two fall in love. In the wake of Oliver's untimely death, James and Ely must help each other learn to love again.

Throughout the show, the audience is presented with the ghosts of James and Ely's pasts; memories of first dates, letters written, and promises made. The title of the show actually comes from one of these sequences, one where James reflects on keeping his relationship alive by writing letters to his beloved Katherine while he fights in the Vietnam War. This medley (which I've so aptly named the Letter Writing Medley) consists of the songs I'm Makin' Believe, Sincerely Yours, My Prayer, and Bless You.

After three years of writing and rewriting, a first "final" draft is finished, just in time to submit it to a local New Works Festival next week. If this hard work pays off, this will be the first time the show has been performed in any capacity. As people begin to experience this story, I'm so excited to see what it will become.

Related Stories
Student Blog: How to Manage Plans More Effectively? Photo
The spring semester has begun. College students will be busy with their work. Sometimes they are busy with their experimental reports, works or college clubs. If you have a lot of things to do like this, it can suddenly become a problem.It's about how to prioritize work and how to solve things. If things pile up more crazy, you could be in a panic. So, what are some easy ways to get things done without panic? Here are some helpful tips.

Student Blog: Spring Break In the Snow Photo
So spring break has come and gone for the majority of us, and now we're left with the memories of the last week that'll stick with us for years to come.

Student Blog: Sight Reading with a Time Crunch Photo
Someone may not be able to do their part and you may need to step in. That is the joy and horror of live productions. This happened during my last jazz performance, one of our altos couldn’t make it to the concert and I had to learn their part. Here's my guide to making sight reading a little less scary.

Student Blog: How to Get Through the Semester Photo
As I near the end of the semester and quickly approach my last semester at Pitt, I’m reflecting on my experiences and the tools that have helped me to get through college. It certainly hasn’t been the easiest experience given the global pandemic thing, but I think it has definitely made me a better person.

From This Author - Student Blogger: Zach Alderdice

Student Blog: I'm Beginning to See the LightStudent Blog: I'm Beginning to See the Light
February 27, 2023

I mentioned in my last blog post that I'm a writer, one who loves all things theatre. And that story, or rather, this story, is about how I wrote my first full length musical: Sincerely Yours.

Student Blog: The Challenge? Bring Order to the WholeStudent Blog: The Challenge? Bring Order to the Whole
February 8, 2023

“White. A blank page or canvas. His favorite. So many possibilities.”  George, Sunday in the Park with George Like a blank page (or canvas), a new semester brings so many possibilities: new classes, new friends, new challenges, and a whole new season of shows. The life of a student director is nothing if not busy.