Behind the scenes at the 24-hour musical

Person holding a script with gloved hands, a poster in the background reads Just Arts & Culture
Dani Salsberg ’27 rehearses before the performance of Brandeis’ 24-hour musical.

By Kennedy Ryan
Photography by Dan Holmes and Roy Holmes
September 20, 2023

Each fall, Brandeis undergraduates come together to put on a musical. The catch?

Casting, choreography, costuming, set design, and rehearsals all take place in less than 24 hours.

The production is an energetic mad dash, but preparations for the 24 Hour Musical begin months in advance. The Undergraduate Theatre Collective team, led by the musical’s President Cierra Boutin ’24 and Vice President Alyssa Allen ’24, selected their production of choice in the previous spring. The big secret is kept until the day before the show begins.

Person getting ready backstage looking at their reflection in a mirror

“It’s a lot of prep,” said Boutin. “Slowly but surely everything comes together.”

Inspired by the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid,” the group decided to adapt the Disney classic for the stage.

“We wanted to pick a show that not only fit the 24-hour timeframe, but also something that every person who was involved would love being a part of,” said Boutin. 

Students rehearsing in the SCC atrium

From the student perspective. Photos courtesy Cierra Boutin ’24.

Person paints Flounder, a yellow and blue fish

Photo Credit: Cierra Boutin ’24

Person stands on stage with arms outstretched in front of a colorful backdrop

Photo Credit: Cierra Boutin ’24

Three people smiling in front of a colorful backdrop

Photo Credit: Cierra Boutin ’24

Cast of students on stage performing

Photo Credit: Cierra Boutin ’24

The production is open to all members of the Brandeis community who want to audition or join the crew. After this year’s musical was announced on Saturday evening, the cast of 65 performers and 32 stage technicians got to work. The cast and crew spent the evening learning lines, practicing musical numbers, and setting the costuming and building sets for the big event. Among the mixture of butterflies and adrenaline, Boutin was reminded of the essence of the special show.

“The ability to do a kick line at 12:30 in the morning inside the SCC atrium with your old friends and new ones is a luxury that not many people don’t get to enjoy,” said Boutin.

Two sound technicians operating a sound board

A short 24 hours later, the production was held at 8 p.m. on Sunday in the SCC atrium.

“In the end, it was the perfect way to highlight the talent and creativity of our team while maintaining the goal of building a community of laughter and memories that will last forever,” said Boutin.

A person applying facepaint to another person
Person looking in the mirror adjusting their hair
People dressed in red preparing for stage
Person dressed in yellow performs on stage, a person wearing a Flounder fish costume is seen in the background
Four people dressed in colorful outfits, connected by holding each other's shoulders in line