A USC student's original musical will be brought to the stage this weekend by student-run organization Off Off Broadway, exploring themes of loss, growth and acceptance.
Third-year neuroscience student Charlie Grant's "Golden Time" follows a girl, Sadie Prisket, who struggles with amnesia after getting into an accident. Prisket tries to relearn who she is throughout the musical while also struggling with the loss of her identity.
The entire musical, like Off Off Broadway's shows, is completely produced by students, who write, direct and act to make the shows possible. Grant said he wanted to write a story that was rooted in reality and allowed for the audience to see a new story that wasn't so far from possible.
"I think the biggest (message) is acceptance of who you are and acceptence of who those around you are." Grant said. "Another way to put it is just that everyone makes mistakes."
The audience can follow Prisket's struggles through both the script and the music performed, he said.
Grant drew inspiration for his music, he said, from a lot of modern musicals as he wanted it to all “meld as best as it could." The show includes music from well-known artists such as Alanis Morissette, Lizzy McAlpine and Abba.
“This one kind of spoke to me just simply because I liked how personal it could feel,” Grant said. “And I was happy with how I think it could be told in the space that we have.”
Grant isn’t the only one who thinks that this show is able to connect with its audience.
Devyn Porter, the director and a graduate theatre education student, said he believes students can relate to the show because of its themes of inclusion and growth. A show for students written by a student is relatable, accessible and comes with new experiences for those involved, he said.
For Porter, the opportunity to direct new, student-written shows allows him to take on new experiences.
"Golden Time," which is one of the group's first student-written musicals in a few years allows Porter to express his creativity in his directing as he is the first to stage the show, he said.
“I've been really excited for this challenge and opportunity to do something that's never been done before,” Porter said.
“Golden Time” hasn’t only just challenged him off stage, however. The rest of the cast has also been challenged and has learned to grow on stage, he said.
“It's been so rewarding to watch them figure out who their character is and bring that to life on stage,” Porter said.
The students dedication is what brings the show together, said first-year biological sciences student Dana Witherspoon.
The show brings people from different majors and backgrounds together, through performance and design, to make something that they all love, she said.
“It's like you all get to come together — doing something that we all love outside of our majors,” Witherspoon said.
Witherspoon, who plays Prisket, said that even though this show was fun and exciting, it came with a lot of challenges. She had to find new ways, she said, to connect her real life to the character and fully understand Sadie in order to portray her in the most honest, genuine way she could.
“Getting to know our characters and knowing how we should play our characters might have been the hardest (part)," Witherspoon said. "We really had to like connect our personal lives to our character."
Both on and off stage, the members face many challenges and triumphs, such as working though changes to staging, connecting to characters and then seeing the final product about to be performed for an audience, Witherspoon said.
The work that goes into the shows helps spread the organization's inclusive message, Porter said.
"Golden Time" will be performed at the Benson Theatre from Nov. 9 to Nov. 12. Admission is free but is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.