Abbey Players plan for spring musical and 24-hour play festival


Courtesy/Abbey Players

A picture from the Abbey Players’ Fun Friday Christmas party event held in December of 2021 in Comiskey

Flannery Moore, Crier Staff

After closing out the fall semester with a student-directed festival of one act plays, the Anselmian Abbey Players are back for the spring semester with a packed calendar. Events include a lineup of Fun Fridays, a 24-hour play festival, and a production of the musical The Theory of Relativity. The 24-hour play festival is a highly anticipated returning event from last year and the Fun Fridays have run consistently since the fall semester, but plans for the spring musical have changed since its initial announcement.  

In the fall semester, Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins was announced as the spring show. Assassins tells the stories of each person to have ever attempted (successfully or not) to assassinate a president of the United States. As the time drew closer for auditions, however, it became apparent that the Abbeys’ initial choice may no longer be the best fit, and Assassins was replaced by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill’s The Theory of Relativity

When asked for comment on this, Daniel Bird Tobin, director of the Abbey Players and head of the spring musical’s creative team, said, “Assassins was a musical about division and violence. We thought it would be a more fulfilling experience for everyone involved to do a show like Theory of Relativity, which is all about finding joy and connection.”    

Regarding the reasoning behind the abrupt change of plans, Tobin said, “There are always a ton of considerations when choosing a show – when choosing in the fall, we were focused on one thing. Now, in a different time, it seemed important to find a show that everyone could find joy and meaning in,” and added that it will be “nice to do a musical that’s celebratory in a time like this.”  

The Theory of Relativity is described by licensing company Music Theatre International as “a joyous and moving look about our surprisingly interconnected lives.” MTI’s website states that “Through a seemingly unrelated collection of songs, scenes and monologues The Theory of Relativity introduces a compelling array of characters experiencing the joys and heartbreaks, the liaisons and losses, the inevitability and the wonder of human connection.” 

The Abbey Players are also excited to be producing a 24-hour play festival in a process that will take place Feb. 25th-26th. About this event, Tobin said, “For anyone who doesn’t have experience with this: over 24 hours a bunch of brand new plays are going to be written, directed, memorized, teched, and performed. I think it’s a blast for both participants and audience members.” 

The Abbeys’ Fun Friday events will also be running throughout the semester, beginning on January 25th with a playwriting workshop. These usually take place on Friday afternoons from 3:30-5:30 and, according to Tobin, the scheduled events for the rest of the semester include everything from parties to opportunities to learn about various aspects of theater.  

Obviously, COVID-19 still presents a prevalent challenge to theater makers. The Abbey Players will continue to follow the College’s guidelines, requiring masks for all rehearsals and performances until policies change. Regarding The Theory of Relativity, Tobin stated that “If things go down and numbers change, we may be unmasked for performances, but that decision will be made with members of administration” and closer to the time of performances.  

When asked for final comments on the Abbeys’ spring semester, Tobin expressed his excitement to dive into The Theory of Relativity, describing it as “a fun, fresh, vibrant show about stories that people care about.” From the spring musical to the 24-hour play festival to the ongoing Fun Fridays, the Abbey Players look forward to sharing the events of the semester with audience members and participants alike.