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David Newman, Emily Bice: MUSKET Producers

This week, Her Campus had the opportunity to speak with both David Newman and Emily Bice and find out more about their experience as MUSKET’s producers. MUSKET is the University of Michigan’s largest and premiere student run theatre organization. All parts of production come together for two shows a year, one in fall semester and one in the winter semester. David is a junior pursuing a BFA in Performance Arts-Acting and Emily is pursuing a degree in Theatre Arts. Both David and Emily are the producers for MUSKET’s 2016-2017 season. This years show, Avenue Q, will run from November 18th to the 20th at the Power Center! Tickets can be bought here or at the box office.

Her Campus: What is your favorite part about Avenue Q?

David Newman: Messages in the show are incredibly relevant to a college campus. It offers a new way of discussing the every-day challenges of life through a fun lens that keeps it light-hearted. It’s just hilarious, too. 

Emily Bice: The music! It’s such a fun, playful score. Especially in today’s political and social climate, the ability to escape for a few hours and just laugh is really important. I’m excited we will be able to give that to audiences for an entire weekend.


HC: Anyone familiar with the show or its marketing knows it’s historically an extremely raunchy production. How are you going to keep the show’s message intact while also trying to not offend sensitivities on campus?

EB: The show, though raunchy, is more intended to entertain the audience and create conversations about various social wrong-doings in our world. Each song is silly, but in each song there is some truth that we, as college students, should be talking about.


HC: So let’s get this super ambiguous question out of the way: What does a MUSKET producer, or a producer in general, do?

DN: As producers, we handle everything from finances, to casting, to hiring, to overseeing all aspects of the production and making sure they run smoothly. My area is mainly finance, venues, University relations, and really anything else that needs to get done. 

EB: We do a little bit of everything. As the producers, we work with both students and professionals involved in every aspect of the production. Our most important job is to properly represent MUSKET as an organization and uphold the ideals on which it was founded. Ensuring the success of the season means being involved every step of the way – from conception to set strike. A MUSKET producer works as a liaison between all departments, and contributes ideas and support wherever necessary.


HC: Running essentially what is a college theatre company must be difficult, what is the most challenging part of your job?

DN: There’s always a problem that needs to be solved. Whether it’s getting an accompanist for that night’s rehearsal, finding room in the budget for a necessary, last-second addition, or trudging through University bureaucracy, something needs attention at any given point. 

EB: Being a producer for one of the largest student organizations on campus comes with a lot of responsibility. Often, it can be challenging to balance being a student and serving as a producer. Having a leadership role in any peer-to-peer situation can be daunting, especially when many of the peers are your friends. Despite the challenges, however, the end result is worth it!


HC: So given those challenges you just mention, what makes it all worth it?

EB: The ability to produce such a large-scale, high-quality production at a college level is incredible. For me, there is usually a moment throughout the process where everything clicks into place. It could be during a musical number, or when the set is finished, or when we see the first big poster in the diag. This moment, whenever it happens, puts the challenges in perspective and reminds me that I am a part of a team working to create something great.  


HC: Is there anything you would like to say to theatre-lovers or kids aspiring to get into the industry?

DN: It’s never too late to get involved because you have no idea where life will take you. There’s a place in theatre for literally every type of person, and student organizations like MUSKET and Rude Mechanicals can help you find that place. 

EB: Find what you’re passionate about and do it. If you think that you are picking a route because it’s safe, or you don’t think you should pursue what you actually like doing, then don’t. Passion for the work (in my opinion) is the most important key to success in the arts industry. If you can demonstrate passion and work hard, the right path will find you.


HC: How do you think Michigan does when it comes to supporting the arts?

DN: Exceptionally well. Some student organizations, like MUSKET, receive more funding than certain University Productions. We’re afforded an incredibly amount of resource and opportunity, and very few other schools have organizations like MUSKET with such support and trust from the school. The School of Music, Theatre and Dance continues to expand, and more and more arts organizations continue to pop up on campus. I feel very lucky to be going here every day. 

EB: Michigan does a good job. Arts clearly don’t get the same emphasis as do sporting events, but I have not yet found myself unable to do something arts-related at Michigan as a result of lack of support. The University Activities Committee (UAC), through which MUSKET is sponsored, gives us resources and advisors so that we are able to learn and grow through our organization.


Images courtesy of: David Newman

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