Facebook Musical draws on first year experiences

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

We all remember how our first year went by " the good, the bad and particularly the ugly parts. But what if you could relive those late snack-bar runs, awkward moments and huge floor parties once again " in song form?

The Facebook Musical, created and directed by Jonathan Blankenstein and performed by Western students Beckie Saslove, Mike Rosen, Charlotte Tang and Jason Riddiford, takes a very honest look at the life of a first year university student. Though the setting of the play is not at Western, it draws on many of the unique encounters first year students experience here.

The Facebook Musical goes far beyond just camp humour, with juxtapositions of real-life situations such as relationships and friendships.

Blankenstein came up with the idea of creating The Facebook Musical based on his first year at Western. A current second-year biology and medical science student, he still remembers his freshman year vividly.

“Last year was a big change for me, academically " obviously " and emotionally. The only way I know how to deal with stuff is to write about it, so I started on it last year and have been working on it since.”

Just as Facebook connects people together, Blankenstein says, his musical will connect the audience with scenes many face during their first year.

Blankenstein not only wrote and directed the musical, but also composed and conducts the nine-piece orchestra that plays the musical’s different pieces.

“This is the first time I’ve conducted a group this big,” Blankenstein, a pianist and self-taught composer, states.

“What we aimed for with this musical was to create scenes where the audience would go, ‘Yeah, I’ve been there, I know what they are saying.’ The best thing about shows like this, is that it reaffirms [to the audience] that you are not alone in the universe.”

The Facebook Musical is performing this Saturday at 8 p.m. at McManus Studio Theatre in The Grand. Tickets are $12 and all proceeds go to Canadian Feed the Children.

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