Seniors’ broadcast relives pain of saying goodbye

April 09, 2021 / by / 0 Comment
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Morgan McCall worked with Ryan Ardelt and Alex Cavanaugh to bring the performance to life.

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau

At some point, we all have had to deal with the internal struggle that comes with saying goodbye.

Whether it’s moving away, growing apart or something more serious, goodbyes have a tendency to leave one uncertain and sometimes frightened for the inevitable changes that are ahead. It is precisely those emotions that Grand Canyon University seniors Morgan McCall, Ryan Ardelt and Alex Cavanaugh hope to capture in their broadcast of “Impact: A New Musical.”

The original story and Lyric were written by Cavanaugh, music was composed and performed by Ardelt and the project was directed by McCall for a 24-hour playwriting festival earlier this year. Once the festival was over, the trio knew instantly that they wanted to do more with the idea and expanded it further.

“When we performed it, we all just kind of had this feeling of ‘we don’t want to say goodbye to this,’” Ardelt said. “We initially had made a joke about making a cast recording like, ‘Oh, we’ll make a cast recording and it will be so much fun,’ and then we’re like, ‘Well, why don’t we expand upon this and actually do something more with it?’ I’m so happy that we did.”

Ryan Ardelt composed the music for the performance.

With the help of the GCU Recording studio, a talented cast a performers and others on the production team, “Impact: A New Musical” was adapted to a roughly 20-minute audio broadcast format that is scheduled to debut at 7 p.m. Friday (Arizona time) on the production’s website.

For Cavanaugh, seeing his vision brought to life was a whole new experience.

“There’s a very special feeling when you hear your words being performed by someone else,” he said.

In the broadcast, listeners follow the character of Rhett as he copes with the inner turmoil of having to share a secret, one he’s been keeping to himself – having to move across the country after accepting his dream job. The story highlights the fear of disappointing his loved ones that Rhett must overcome to find the strength to share the news.

“This experience that’s happening in his mind is kind of a form of therapy for Rhett,” McCall said. “It’s an experience for him to address the secrets he’s been keeping from his loved ones and understand that his impact on their lives and what they’ve done for him will last far longer and will last the distance.”

It is a performance that is meant to symbolize the strength of love, even in times of change and distance. It is a message that resonates a little deeper with McCall, Ardelt and Cavanaugh because they’re seniors.

“Impact: a New Musical” showcases the hardship that comes with saying goodbye to loved ones.

“Eventually we have to say goodbye to those we love for awhile,” McCall said, “but their effect on us, their impact on us is what makes us and that’s part of growing up.

“Sometimes loving people is hard, and it means telling them the hard truths. I think it’s been a bit therapeutic for us as well as the characters.”

The trio have been friends throughout their time at GCU. McCall and Ardelt were one another’s first friend in college their freshman year, and Cavanaugh and Ardelt becoming roommates. The experience of having one final hurrah together before accepting their diplomas later this month was an emotional experience, and they all are grateful for it.

“It’s very bittersweet,” Cavanaugh said. “I’m very glad, and I have been very glad this whole time, that this is the last thing I’m doing here. Each of us are in the roles that we want to be doing and we love to be in — I love to write, Morgan loves to direct and Ryan loves to compose.

“It’s sad because I’ve loved my time here, but it’s also very fulfilling to be able to go out doing what I love most.”

McCall had a similar response.

“It feels like coming home,” she said. “It’s all amounted to this. All of us have worked really hard in this program, and our friendship has led up to this moment and all of our skills have led up to this moment.

“I think God’s hand has been on this project.”

The stream is free to listen to and is set to give the audience a unique experience.

“I think this musical is everything we love in theatre,” McCall said. “It’s silly at times, it’s serious at others. I hope that it allows people to laugh and to cry and to really revel in the creativity that God has gifted us.

“I really hope this time of year, with a lot of change happening in people’s lives, that Rhett’s lesson will resonate with people and just that the story will be a comfort to them and also something to reflect on.”

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].

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