Deep in the bowels of Schine Student Center, 172 students are hard at work. Music swells from Goldstein auditorium, but enter the auditorium, and you will be met with the sharp clack of tap shoes on the stage.
The First Year Players are preparing for its annual show, with an added twist, it is the organization’s 25th anniversary. This year, 24 freshmen will take the stage in the musical rendition of Big Fish.
Big Fish details the story of Edward Bloom and his adult son Will, unraveling his journey to discover Edward’s past. With a wild sense of imagination, Edward has always told fantastical stories, and Will wishes to find the truth.
“The show is about story telling and leaving a legacy,” said TJ Wells, a senior advertising major. “FYP has played that role in our lives — it’s about, 25 years later, where have come, where have we gone.”
Most people are more familiar with the film rendition of Big Fish, Wells said, but he has high hopes for ticket sales. This year, more tickets will be available for the show, which always draws a large crowd.
When the show opens Thursday night, the production will be the product of the work of 24 actors, 30 pit members, 11 crew members and 107 staff members. Many FYP alumni will make the journey to Syracuse to see the show. The group has grown exponentially since its inception.
“I know a lot of alumni are coming back which is awesome,” Wells said. “It’s really cool, we know the art director is coming back, and our creative teams are coming back — our best friends are all older than us.”
Sam Chester is the art director for the show — his second year running in the role. Chester is in charge of every “non-person” aspect of the show. He is in charge of the set construction team, lighting crews and building.
Chester is a senior mechanical engineering major and is the only person in the theater troupe to have joined the staff in his first year. He said he has put countless hours into the production, although he estimated that translating set designs into build-able drawings took him 300 hours alone.
“All I see is the mistakes,” Chester said. “But then all the enjoyment comes from seeing other people’s reaction. For people who have no clue how it was built, they just see it for what it is and I love watching their reactions.”
The set is elaborate, with different levels and intricate designs complimenting a wide variety of costumes onstage.
Wells said the show was the perfect pick for the troupe after narrowing it down to six musical options. The choice was made last summer and they “hit the ground running,” as soon as the semester started.
Max Murphy, one of the producers for the show said the first years have especially been pouring hours of work in — they have been rehearsing every day for months now.
“It’s going great, all of the first years are super excited, our staff is thrilled with how it’s coming out and we’re excited for the public to see it,” Murphy said.
The anniversary year has brought some added pressure, Murphy said. Although he and his peers have only been in the organization for three years, Murphy said they are already looking ahead and picturing returning for the 50th anniversary.
For Murphy, a junior advertising major, FYP has become his family on the SU campus. The group’s slogan is “find your place,” and he has done just that.
“I found my home on campus, I found my best friends, my family I found the people who are going to be in my wedding and be the godparents of my children,” Murphy said. “It’s brought me into my future, it’s way more than just a show.”