Two musicals debuted this season in the Phoenix Theater

By Farah Bassyouni Apr 7, 2023

April 1-2, senior Jacob Nuti’s new musical, “The Unmasking of Serafina” made its debut in the Phoenix Theater. 

The piece, based on the 1908 novella “The Lure of the Mask” by Harold MacGrath, follows Jack Hilliard played by junior Mason Hanizeski, as he seeks out Serafina played by senior Josephine Corrao, an Italian woman he hears singing in the night. 

As the story unfolds, the audience learns more about Serafina, her relationship to the misunderstood Prince Ronaldo Abizzi played by junior Sam Fahrenkrug, the tortured past of Jack’s mentor and manservant Giovanni Moretta by senior Michael Todd Votaw. The story also shows the romantic relationship between showgirl Kitty Killigrew played by first-year Delainey Guiney and her fiancé Dan Merihew, first-year Jack Berleman-Paul.

 The show inevitably ends with Jack finally seeing Serafina again, their connection through song and their parting of ways. 

No piece of work has made me cry like this one. The last song, “Sing It Again For Me,” with its sweeping melody and tender lyrics, cuts directly to that feeling when one finds someone one truly connects with, with both sides seeing each other completely. The song of Serafina calls to Jack in his soul, speaking directly to him and that is why he loves her. 

The piece left me in tears throughout, but especially at the closure. The heart and soul of the piece came truly from the mind of Jacob Nuti, with the songs speaking louder than mere words ever could. For those who love new works, period pieces and sweeping romance, “The Unmasking of Serafina” was the show for you. 

“The Unmasking of Serafina” was not the only musical to make its debut this season in the Phoenix Theater. 

Junior Evan Carlson’s “Water Polo and Love” ran March 8-9. Despite the short run-time of the show, it still managed to pull out some entertaining songs, like “Underneath The Bleachers” sung by Sophomore Stephen Nickisch and Junior Grace Lumpkin and “Swim Straight” sung by Nickisch and Senior Ethan Smith. 

The story of “Water Polo and Love” is a conglomeration of many different high school musicals, including the Disney hit “High School Musical,” “Mean Girls,” “Heathers” and even “Carrie.” 

The story follows the character Henry played by Nickisch as he attempts to stay true to his controlling father’s wishes for him to play water polo in college while also following his heart, pursuing the theater geek Sarah. 

The show didn’t attempt to take itself too seriously, ending with a marriage proposal by Henry to Sarah. Though at times a bit too outlandish, I have to appreciate the dedication of the  author. 

The overture, in complete darkness save for the piano light on Carlson as he played, let the audience enjoy the musical composition which, as with most new musicals, is what makes it worth attending. That is one thing that both “Water Polo and Love” and “The Unmasking of Serafina ” had in common: the love poured into them by their respective writers and casts. 

Coming Up:

  • Dis•Joint•Ed (Faculty Choreographed Dance Concert): April 12-16 in the Jerome Mirza Theater
  • Celebration (Music Theatre Workshop Production): April 28-29 in the E. Melba Johnson Kirkpatrick Laboratory Theater
  • Philemon (Music Theatre Workshop Production): April 29-30 in the E. Melba Johnson Kirkpatrick Laboratory Theater
  • SOTA Shoppe: April 30 in the Phoenix Theater

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