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Student Center: DEAR JOURNAL Blog #3: Months to Opening


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 third blog entry. If you missed last week's, catch up here! And check back soon for another instalment!

THE ROAD TO: 'Dear Journal: The Musical'

"I decided that giving up wasn't an option. We started this project, and we were going to finish it- without a doubt. However, I recognized that it would require a huge overhaul of not only the script, but the set and the casT. Ryan had completed the "love" duet of Act 2, which we worked on tirelessly. All the materials and scenery pieces we had bought this far were scrapped. The artistic vision of the show just changed. We couldn't handle the huge set pieces and that - it just simply wasn't practical. How were we going to get the pieces to the performance space? Our source of transportation was soccer moms' vans. Not exactly the equivalent of the huge semi tractor trucks that regular tours have. We cut half the set in half, basically. However, Ryan and I pushed forward

Ryan had completed more music so we were rehearing with the piano at the library regularly on that, so music was going smoothly. However, the teens weren't really getting into the groove of learning their lines. I wanted to be at a point where no one had to say "line" anymore. We started cracking down on everyone. Although I saw some progress, I was getting frustrated. I was falling behind on my studies at the beginning of eighth grade.

Rehearsals were basically lost time - the smallest of problems seemed to set us back the biggest. We moved into the library permanently for rehearsals and our Scenery was now complete as well as the costumes, but when it came time to bring it into the theatre, we struck a problem. We had to scrap the already stripped down set even more, but then again, it was less of a mess to clean. We didn't have time to fight our own battle and re-shape the show. They got the blocking down, but the show just wasn't fluid enough. The lines went from hilarious to flat, and the show didn't have the spark that we needed yet.

Further in the creative process, Ryan and I were really finally feeling ready to postpone the opening date. However, we got an even bigger surprise than the scenery not fitting: both shows were close to sold out, and we had to start a waiting list. This show wasn't a dream in the prolonged future anymore, it was coming around the bend as Ryan and I began to realise this as we set up phone interviews and news placement for the show.

The pressure was now on, but was the show?" 

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



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