Photo of a girl holding a graduation cap in the air
Reminisce on the last four year with Four Years the Musical. Image: Albert Vincent Wu/Unsplash.
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The members of the Unity for Action club have made their presence known in the University Centre while preparing for their annual musical

On the night of their dress rehearsal, the lively and friendly cast and crew members from the Unity for Action club fill the Alumni Auditorium with jokes and singing.

Students of all backgrounds have come together to host the club’s 10th annual student-run musical, Four Years. Written, produced, and directed by Ann Lambert, a fourth-year communications and sociology student and club president. 

Four Years is the first Unity for Action musical hosted since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be performed at the Alumni Auditorium on March 25 and 26. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

“I cannot get over just the sheer value of the community that has been built out of this year,” said Lambert. “Everybody is just so enthusiastic, passionate, talented, and they all bring their very best to every single rehearsal.”

Lambert was a member of the Unity for Action musical cast as a first-year in the winter semester of 2020. She had been planning for the show since the University shut down all activities for COVID-19. 

“I never got to take the stage and never really got closure for that whole experience. Then, I came up with the plotline for Four Years that year, and it sat in my Notes app for three years because I waited for these public health circumstances to allow for me to get to do this,” Lambert recounted. “So really, it’s about like closure for that first-year experience. It’s about getting to put these stories in this creative outlet out into the world.”

The cast is already dedicated and sociable before rehearsal even began. From exchanging quips and meme references amongst each other to singing nothing but praises with rehearsal experiences — you would have thought that they have been working together for years rather than months.

This is the case for cast member Suhas Chimmapudi, a first-year computer science student who was excited to talk about being a part of the musical.

“I made a lot of new friends and that was hard, you know when you first get into university. It was great meeting… a bunch of cool new people at the same time. Just playing singing [and] performing together.”

Chimmapudi hopes that audience members feel the energy of the cast and crew members while genuinely enjoying themselves amidst their responsibilities.

“Everyone’s busy in the university and everyone’s doing their own thing. Sometimes it’s just important to have fun [and] have fun events where everyone can come together, and just laugh,” he said.

Claire Donnan, one of the leads in the musical, is proud to be continuing Unity for Action’s tradition of student-run theatre despite the pandemic’s disruptions.

“It’s been very cool to, not necessarily revamp, but allow the musical to continue. And hopefully, this iteration of musicals will allow future ones to happen since people who are attending the school will have participated,” said the second-year digital journalism student.

“[We’ve] definitely had some trouble obviously finding rehearsal spaces. We’ve had some issues with that. And then of course finding tech[nical crew] was something that for a lot of people were some new experiences.”

Donnan, along with Chimmapudi and Lambert, highlight the cast and crew’s cooperation and dedication to ensuring that the musical is the best they can make it, despite differences in theatre experience, logistical issues, and minimal turnaround with rehearsal beginning in January.

“Everybody’s stepped up 100% and put in so much focus to learn all the materials. It was definitely challenging to put it together with the turnaround that we knew we wanted to have, but the fact that it is where it is and it looks the way it does is the best thing about it.”