Practices for In a Heartbeat, being performed on March 21 and 22. Photo: Bridget Coady/The Fulcrum

Musical explores romance on relationships with proceed going to Ottawa’s Youth Services Bureau

Unity for Action is gearing up to present their ninth annual musical fundraiser on March 21 and 22. The original musical centres around romantic relationships at different stages, and all proceeds will go to Ottawa’s Youth Services Bureau.

The original play, titled In a Heartbeat, was written by third-year conflict studies student Julia D’Silva, who is also directing.

D’Silva agreed to write the original script of In a Heartbeat after talking about it with Unity for Action president Aneen Nicholas. A self-confessed theatre kid in high school, D’Silva worked on the script from October to January before shifting into three rehearsals a week starting in January.

“From the first week of January, this has been my life,” D’Silva joked.  

The musical focuses on relationships, and D’Silva bills it as an “exploration of romance.”

“There’s four storylines that we follow,” she said. “There’s one person who’s just been broken up with, we have another person who’s been with her boyfriend for 10 years and he hasn’t proposed yet. We have another person who just falls in love with a random stranger outside a coffee shop and decides that he’s the love of her life, and then we have somebody who’s very jaded and doesn’t believe in love.”

“The idea is that everybody’s been at least one of those people, if not more, at some point in their life so it’s very relatable,” she added.

Nicholas explained that Unity for Action is a philanthropic club that picks a different charity every year to donate to. This year they chose to donate to Ottawa’s Youth Services Bureau which offers a variety of services for homeless and at-risk youth in the city.

The musical is an annual tradition and the club’s biggest fundraiser, Nicholas said. Last year the club raised $4,000 for the non-profit Enviro Éduc-Action, and they’re planning to raise more money this year.

“I think the people who started the club were looking for a different way to do a fundraiser,” said Nicholas. “Our whole club is about just using your passion to make change in the world, and so tapping into different talents that everybody has throughout the play like acting, dancing, singing, playing instruments, we’re going to utilize all those talents.”

Auditions for the musical were open to everyone, as they are every year, and it provides a great opportunity for musical theatre fans to get involved in a student production with a good cause at the root.

The chance to create theatre for a cause was what drew D’Silva to the club last year. For her, Unity for Action was her introduction to being involved on campus and gave her an outlet for her creativity.

“Joining Unity for Action was my first foray into doing something that wasn’t just for my resume, but was actually going to help the community,” she said. “It’s been a good experience.”

As the play’s director, she’s happy to see the play go from an idea in her head to a tangible production in just a few months.

“It’s nice to see it all come together from an idea I had in my head six months ago to an actual, tangible thing,” said D’Silva. “It’s a really cool process.”

Unity for Actions annual musical In a Heartbeat is happening March 21 and 22 in the University Centre’s Alumni Auditorium. Tickets are available via the musical’s Facebook page.