Science and theatre combine in ABB! The Musical

A group photo of the students working on the musical

Sarah Menezes, a fourth-year Integrated Sciences student, is directing the largest musical yet put on by the McMaster Science Society.

Sarah Menezes had a tough call to make in her final year of high school. Theatre or science? She loved both. Which path to take after graduation?

Menezes had been in her element at a secondary school and regional arts centre in Toronto. She was a director, playwright and actor for the National Theatre School Drama Festival. She won awards for assistant directing and writing an outstanding original play. She was also recognized by a regional arts program with an outstanding student award.

“I felt like science was the safer option, with theatre being something I could pursue on the side. Even though I was going into science, I knew theatre would somehow be part of my McMaster experience,” says the Integrated Science student. “I just didn’t know how.”

It happened by chance. During the summer before her second year, Menezes came across a posting for the MacSci musical put on by the McMaster Science Society. This isn’t a talent show slapped together at the last minute. The musical is a full-scale production written, directed and performed entirely by students in the Faculty of Science.

“I applied and here we are,” says Menezes.

“Here” is in the role of musical director for this year’s production, after serving as assistant director for the last two musicals and even filling in as an emergency cast member.

This year’s musical — the ninth put on the McMaster Science Society — is the biggest yet, with 56 students volunteering their time and talent.

Menezes was hired in May while also working part-time with the Toronto Blue Jays as a game-day activation team lead.

The musical’s executive team came on board in early July with the cast, orchestra and crew brought into the mix in October. Teams are writing the script and lyrics, composing music, creating and teaching dances and songs, practising their lines and blocking, building sets and working on ticket sales, promotions and the playbill. They’ll rehearse until the curtains go up on the weekend of March 16 in the Robinson Memorial Theatre.

Students don’t need a theatre background to get involved.

“No experience is required,” says Menezes. “We’re just looking for students who are passionate, eager and want to add some creativity to their lives.”

The musical is a ton of work on top of demanding course loads, but it’s worth it, Menezes says.

“The MacSci musical’s brought me some of my closest friends, best memories and craziest moments.”

Along with being a much-needed break from studying and a reminder that scientists are creative people too, this year’s musical supports the Hamilton Trans Health Coalition.

“The musical’s a fun way to connect with the MacSci community and support a great cause.”

Menezes won’t spoil the plot, but says this year’s musical — ABB! —  reflects the MacSci undergrad experience.

“It’s all about making friendships, finding yourself and figuring out your future. It’s a very human, energetic and touching story that we think will be relatable to so many students, faculty and staff. We’ve built a really great show and we can’t wait to perform it in front of a full house.”

For her next act, Menezes is looking at media production graduate programs where she can pursue her passion for communicating science through art.

“It would’ve been a shorter route if I’d gone directly into that kind of program straight out of high school. But I’ve learned so much in the Integrated Science program and through the MacSci musical. It’s definitely been a unique journey but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.”

Tickets are now on sale for ABB! The Musical. Four performances are scheduled for Saturday, March 16 and Sunday, March 17 at the Robinson Memorial Theatre in Chester New Hall. Tickets are $15 for students and $20 for general admission. The musical will also be livestreamed on March 16 at 7:30 p.m. Order tickets at  

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