DCU Glee Cast: Behind the scenes

Róisín Phelan

When I first took on the role of director of the DCU Glee Cast a year ago I certainly did not understand the journey I was going to undertake.

I have learned a lot from this role, but the one thing that has truly stood out to me is the magic of Glee. I had seen it before, in my two previous years of being in the cast, but this year’s cast have really shown the impact and benefit that Glee can have on people.

The Glee cast is different to other societies. We have one show, one goal, one setlist that we work towards for the entire year. As director it’s my job to put this setlist together. Over the year I comprised a two hour show based of group numbers, small groups, solos, duets and medleys. Our sole focus for the entire year is getting each of these numbers perfect and ready for the Helix stage.

This year the cast rehearsed for four hours every week from November until March. In this period of time as I taught them the setlist I watched the magic of Glee unfold.

I watched the cast become invested in the show. They went from just following my orders to voicing their opinions and drilling numbers on their own accord. I have watched first year members come so far out of their shells that I barely recognise them from their first auditions. I have watched older members balance real life alongside Glee and push through their own personal struggles and stresses to make it to rehearsals and give it their all.  I’ve watched friendships develop between people who would have never crossed paths if it weren’t for Glee.

The day the Government announced the Covid-19 measures we were in the middle of our one of our eight hour reading week rehearsals. At this point we had already begun selling tickets to our show in the Helix and were putting the finishing touches on the setlist. The measures meant the closure of DCU and the cancellation of any mass gatherings of over 100 people.  Our show which was set to take place in the Helix 10 days later fell into the mass gatherings category.

We were devastated when faced with the reality that it wouldn’t go ahead. Everything we had worked for had been dismantled before our eyes and there was nothing we could do about it.

After receiving the news, the cast were given the option to finish rehearsals, go home and rightfully wallow in their upset or to carry on with rehearsals and finish the show.

They chose to do an entire run-through of the show from start to finish, which they had not done before. From opening number, to closing encore number I watched in absolute awe at their talent, energy and resilience.

With this reliance they still haven’t given up on the show and are fighting to ensure that it eventually makes it to stage.

As director I have missed the feeling of performing myself, but I am proud to have stood in the wings this year where I watched them become the performers and people they are now.

Róisín Phelan

Image Credit: DCU Drama