For their new production Family Matters, student theatre association Alles is Drama embarks on a new adventure: musical theatre. In addition to sketches that they wrote themselves, each player will also perform a song. The overarching theme is family – from the awkwardness of family gatherings to finding a new family far away from home.
Director Merijn Krol was clear from the beginning: he prefers musical theatre to a musical – the idea Alles is Drama first approached him for. “A famous musical is already defined; the audience comes to see players perform something they already know. Now we can alternate between established songs and the personal stories of the players – everyone plays a dramatised version of themselves or their family members. That makes it more special to me.”
Krol, who has a background in cabaret, wrote the ‘course in family feeling’, which will be the common thread throughout the evening. He has affinity with the theme. “At art academy, I made a Christmas show and my contribution to the Amsterdams Kleinkunst Festival was about my father.” This background also gave him the experience in performing as a musician, which was helpful when preparing for Family Matters. “I’m really proud of how the players grew as singers. We had a singing coach to help them with the technique – that’s not my field of expertise – and I helped them to sing and act at the same time.”
“The whole association was very eager to put on a musical production,” says Mona Beyersdorf, one of the players. As a student of singing at the Maastricht Conservatory, she is no stranger to singing on stage. “But it’s very exciting to do it in a play.” Her scenes are about two events in her life that had a great impact on her. “I don’t want to give too much away, but one is about a family member meddling in my affairs, the other one about what I did in response to that.” Co-player Karel Steen chose to be the funny note of the evening. “My goal was to make my scenes about family gatherings recognizable, awkward. Think of something like the drunken uncle at the wedding.” In her scenes, Rugile Lukate from Lithuania tells the story of how she had to build a new family after she left her own when she came to Maastricht two years ago. “Now, my roommates, fellow association members and study friends feel like family.”