Miami Students Debut World Premiere Musical OCTETS

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By Willie Caldwell, Visiting Assistant Professor, Arts Management & Entrepreneurship

More than 28 students in the College of Creative Arts joined forces to mount the world premiere of a new musical titled OCTETS. The show ran four consecutive nights, April 11 – 14, in Studio 88 in the Center for Performing Arts on Miami University’s Oxford Campus.

OCTETS tells the story two rival singing groups vying for supremacy in a makeshift signing completion that pits friend against friend, lover against lover, and bro against bro.

The musical was written, directed and produced by Austin Lameowna, a junior majoring in Marketing and Arts Management. Nick Witzeman, a senior in English Education, composed and arranged the shows 26 songs and played one of the leading roles. Students from across the College of Creative Arts came together to support the production in a variety of ways. Arts Management student Caroline Avolio worked as a producer along with Julia Jones and Lauren Lienhart who worked as the stage manager and assistant stage manager respectively. Victoria Ordeman provided choreography and costume design along with the show’s design team Laura Schorsch, Erin Speno, and Alissa Cook. The creative team was rounded out by conductor Dana Kuehn and pianist/DJ Cleavinger who underscored the impressive and complex musical numbers.The cast was comprised of 17 talented actors from across disciplines who were committed to bringing the show to life.

OCTETS was written over the course of three years by Lamewona and Witzeman. Lamewona was drawn to the arts management program at Miami University after recognizing he needed a better understanding of how to go about producing a musical. “As an aspiring artist, I needed to start thinking of myself not solely as a creative, but also as a manager and producer of art,” Lamewona said.

The creative team launched a crowdfunding campaign which raised more than $2,000 to help offset the cost of production. The show received additional support from the College of Creative Arts and the Department of Theatre at Miami University. “Seeing a musical go from a vague idea to a fully-staged production is a very arduous, yet creatively fulfilling challenge for all those involved in any capacity,” Lamewona explained in his director notes.

Tickets were free but required online reservations through Eventbrite. The show sold out before opening night and was lauded as a huge success as a result of the hard work, dedication, and creativity of students in the College of Creative Arts.