New and returning students gathered at the Fenway Center Saturday to watch members of NU Stage, Northeastern’s student-run musical theater group, air out their young adult grievances in the summer revue “My Quarter Life Crisis.” Performances by 26 Northeastern students provided a comedic look at the problems faced by those rapidly approaching the void of total adulthood.

“I’m about to graduate, so [the theme is] definitely poignant and very real for a lot of people right now,” Alyssa Rubin, an NU Stage guest choreographer and senior international affairs major, said. “I love performing and finding something that connects with the audience. Every college student feels a little bit of that existential crisis.”

With songs from musicals like Spring Awakening, Fun Home, Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon, NU Stage performers used modern language employed by contemporary playwrights and lyricists to reflect their current situations.

“There are a lot of young playwrights talking about relevant issues, so I felt the songs really reflected how the cast felt about this point in their lives,” Rubin said. “When you’re singing about how you might never find your perfect life, it can get a little too real sometimes.”

To avoid entering the grimmer recesses of early adulthood, the cast and crew opted for lighthearted takes on heavy themes. Though the idea of laughing to keep from crying is nothing new, Rubin describes it as a “more productive and enjoyable” way of coping.

“From the beginning, we knew we wanted it to be very satirical,” Anna-Rose Schenerman, the senior graphic and information design major who directed the production, said. “I think people in theater have a tendency to take things too seriously sometimes, but I wanted to tackle this with a very lighthearted attitude.”

The performance, which was heavily advertised, sold out online and had to turn away some prospective patrons at the doors of the Fenway Center, a relatively small venue which seats up to 300 guests.

“I found out about an hour before the show that we’d sold out,” Schenerman said. “They had to add an extra four rows in the back of the theatre and actually turn people away because it was getting to be a fire hazard. I felt bad turning people away, but it’s amazing that so many people wanted to come.”

The mixed audience included the usual crowd of friends and family of the performers, as well as a large number of freshmen and new students interested in NU Stage, the topical theme or the idea of a performance more loosely structured than a typical production.

“Revues are more casual than full-on productions,” Annie Pahlow, a sophomore communications studies major and NU Stage member, said. “If you like a particular theme, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy yourself. With this one, each number got laughs even if the overall themes were kind of upsetting.”

Rewarded with applause and standing ovations, some NU Stage members were able to find some catharsis through the experience.
“I’m a senior with only two more classes left until graduation,” Schenerman said. “[Putting the show together] didn’t help me deal with any of my problems, but it’s good to talk about it sometimes.”

Photo by Scotty Schenck