Few possess the tenacity and passion to write, compose plus organize an original musical before the particular age of 21. Collin Hendley, however , is one of the few to accomplish this feat. As a senior theater and entertainment plus media studies major at the University of Georgia, Hendley has successfully sculpted a musical from its monologues to the production’s score within the year and a half.
The cast of “Brighter Than the Sun” has been rehearsing for months, plus the student-led production will be performed on Jan. 13 and 14, 2023, free to all at UGA’s Cellar Theatre.
The plot associated with his play centers around Hendley’s grandmother and her life, a subject he decided to focus upon after the death of both of his grandparents in 2019.
Following their deaths, Hendley initially hoped in order to preserve the particular stories of their lives by writing them down.
“I started writing down some of the stories and things narratively in a document for posterity’s sake and then it came to me that it was well suited for a dramatic structure, ” Hendley said.
Essentially, Hendley created the storyline to be that associated with a coming-of-age drama focused on the adventures, hardships and beautiful moments that made up his grandmother’s life.
“The play centers around my grandma, the girl name is Bobbie O’Quinn, and it starts when she’s within her late teens plus it goes through her meeting my grandpa and moving all over the world then shifting back home, ” Hendley stated.
Titled “Brighter Compared to Sun, ” the particular production got the attention of the committee from the New Georgia Playwright Grant after Hendley’s submission. His carefully crafted music won the grant, which supplied him with the money and production space needed to produce the musical.
“During the particular pandemic I finished the score and the script and submitted the particular piece for the grant that we won last spring and then I found out We won this, ” Hendley said. “I think whenever you have a story that you want to share sometimes the pieces just fall together plus you create a whole piano rating. ”
Though Hendley will not be acting in the have fun with, he will certainly be playing his initial score live on the piano during the nearly two-and-a-half-hour student manufacturing.
The title “Brighter Than the Sun” came to Hendley quickly. He focused on creating a production name that captures the theme of the show as well as the spirit of their grandmother.
“The overall theme from the play is immortalizing life through stories, ” Hendley mentioned. “Your dreams, reality and goals change as you grow but some things are always constant. So something that is always constant is the sun. It’s always shining, it’s always sustaining life. ”
Hendley explained that will his grandfather was his grandmother’s “sun” in the particular form of “pervasive love, ” plus hopes to create this particular visual for that audience via real images of their grandparents and their existence.
Though the play plus score will be written by Hendley, he is also co-directing the particular musical with Caroline Leggett, an older double major in theater and entertainment and media studies, just like Hendley.
“He talked to me personally about the display for years”, said Leggett said. “I had read the script and listened to the music long before he actually won the grant so I possess been simply by his side through a lot of it, watching his process and understanding where the story arrived from. ”
Hendley approached Leggett about co-directing following their years-long friendship as well as being members of rival schools and one-act groups in highschool. Leggett has a passion with regard to directing plus Hendley knew she wanted to start directing when she completed college, so this individual offered her the position.
“What at first drew myself to this piece is that I actually think [Hendley] is a really great song writer which is usually really hard in order to find these days, ” Leggett said. “Also it’s just something that a lot of people can relate to. ”
Leggett is definitely fascinated by the particular inner workings and behind-the-scenes aspects of leading. Many people don’t realize the amount associated with work and time goes into not only the choreography but the particular sets, costumes, lighting, plus other parts of directing the production.
“I am simply really excited for the opportunity to direct something. A lot of college students don’t get this opportunity to direct a two-and-a-half-hour-long music, ” Leggett said. “I am really lucky that will I get to do this particular and have the space to put it on. ”
The production like this would be nothing without a strong lead. This lead comes in the form of senior theatre main Hannah Grace Laughlin, who has been acting since the age associated with 6.
“It’s been the entire lifestyle so far … voice lessons, acting, dancing, ” Laughlin said. “It’s been our dream to act since middle and high school [and] being able to major in it in university inside a pre-professional setting. ”
Taking on the particular monologue-heavy role of Old Bobbie in the play, Laughlin initially met Hendley in a good online class throughout the pandemic. They obtained to know each other in their advanced acting course later within college.
“He reached me after we had watched each some other perform regarding a good bit of time and said, ‘Hey I really actually want you to play this role, please come audition, I really think you could carry this show, ’” Laughlin said. “I really love his work, the way he or she approaches things is just actually, really brilliant. ”
Laughlin accepted the invitation in order to audition intended for “Brighter Than the Sun” and, sure enough, was forged as the particular production’s lead.
“It was so exciting after which very overwhelming because I’ve never played a role after a real person, especially 1 as close as this particular because it’s Collin’s grandma, ” Laughlin said. “So I think there is pressure there while focusing upon originating the role plus making this feel authentic in my body. ”
What characterizes Laughlin’s performance as the lead is the girl ability to empathize along with the character and her experiences as if she were a real human being.
“You want the show in order to be great but the particular reason he wrote the show has been for his grandmother and his family and to honor her living, so the particular spirit associated with her should be in the show. And that’s what I am hoping that I establish within this part, ” Laughlin said. “Acting is empathy when it comes down to it. ”