Despite having left Binghamton University more than a year ago, Melissa Edelblum, ‘15, knows that it’s important to keep strong college connections. Now, more than a year after graduation she continues to work on collaborative projects with fellow students and alumni, including a play with Broadway intentions.
This summer, Arts & Culture was able to get a preview of her latest project, “Rock and a Hard Place,” during its live, staged reading in New York City, featuring performers with Broadway credits and Tony Award nominations.
Edelblum worked as lead producer on this original show, a musical that centers around a father-daughter band trying to make it big while coping with the loss of their wife and mother. After remaining unknown for years, they finally — and accidentally — get their big break at the South by Southwest music festival. The two are signed to a Brooklyn-based indie record label, and on their path to fame they are forced to grow and look inward as they confront their grief and move forward.
“Rock and A Hard Place” features musical elements from pop, country, theatre and punk, among others, with original music from Sami Horneff and book by Michael Kerr. After meeting them at a festival in New York City (where they won for their play “The Virgin Slayer,” which will be making its off-Broadway debut Sept. 9), Edelblum and her partner, Gregory Davis, began collaborating with them on a web series “Famous Tweets of World History.”
Edelblum says that while meeting for this project, Horneff asked if they wanted to be a part of “Rock and a Hard Place,” and for them, the timing just worked out.
“Around this time, my partner and I had just been granted a producing residency at the Players Theatre and were looking for new projects to take on,” wrote Edelblum in an email.
Besides just acting as lead producer, Binghamton alumni and students had their hands on various aspects of this project in everything from design to actual performance.
Paige Nazinitsky, ‘14, worked as the graphic designer for the show, designing the playbills, posters and merchandise.
“Having a visual with a show helps to set a mental picture for a show, especially one in its early stages when there is not yet a set or any other design element,” Nazinitsky said. “It helps create a mood and a feeling, and becomes what people will see in their minds when thinking of the show.”
Other BU credits include Elana Schlossberg, ‘15, as stage manager, Nicole Paulino, ‘15, as a production assistant and Danielle Nigro, a senior majoring in theatre, as a performer.
For Edelblum, working with fellow Bearcats is an important part of her process.
“For any project I take on, I make sure to include other alumni and if I can, students,” Edelblum wrote. “It’s really important to me because Binghamton breeds a diligent, intelligent and thoughtful person — truly pleasures to work with. Aside from being dependable workers, these are my friends and I am so lucky to be able to translate my wonderful friendships to strong working relationships.“