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UGA Theatre Hosts Alumni Supported Original Musical, “First Semester”


Athens, GA – UGA Theatre presents “First Semester: A Musical,” an original work written by undergraduate Wyn Alyse Thomas and directed by Thomas and Sydney Rainwater. Supported by the New Georgia Group fund. Performances will be held in the Cellar Theatre of the Fine Arts Building on March 21-23 at 8 p.m. and March 24 at 2 p.m. Free Admission. Tickets can be reserved at or by phone at 706-542-4400. A suggested donation of $10 benefits student theatre troupe Thalian Blackfriars.  

“First Semester: A Musical” represents a new addition to UGA Theatre’s seasonal offerings – a slot dedicated to original student-written, student-produced work supported by the New Georgia Group fund. The fund was established in 2009 by an association of alumni known as the “New Georgia Group,” whose ranks included Carl Clifford, Wayne Knight, Brian Reddy, and Barbara Woods, among others. The criteria for receiving the award includes “artistic risk-taking and new approaches in concept and expression, while maintaining an appreciative audience.” 

In Spring 2023, the department of theatre and film studies Honors & Awards committee selected second-year theatre major Wyn Alyse Thomas’s original musical “First Semester” as the New Georgia Group fund recipient. Thomas, however, is no stranger to creating original works. Despite only being in her sophomore year, Thomas’s plays “Commitment Issues,” “stand. Up. HIT!” and “Write Their Wrongs” have already been published by Next Stage Press, Samuel French, and Playscripts respectively.   

“First Semester” follows Alicia, a chronic overachiever with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder whose fervor for scholastic excellence is undone by the rigors of college living. Between her plummeting grades and her long-time friend taking collegiate excess to its extremes, Alicia must find a way to navigate her uncertain new reality.  

While maintaining the cheerful façade typically associated with musicals, the play deals in very real discourse surrounding college life, identity, and mental health. Thomas views “First Semester” as less a personal story and more an ode to the fears and challenges shared by incoming freshmen at universities throughout the country.  

“I was feeling lost and discouraged during my first semester,” says Thomas. “But I realized that to a certain extent everyone feels that way when they go off to a college. I wanted to write something that would touch on the reality of what friendships and relationships and mental health are like when you start college while maintaining a sense of fun and humor. We show the struggle and comedy of trying to find the right therapist, the perils of ‘situationships,’ a tap dance about being single, and moments between friends trying to grieve their childhoods. I didn’t set out to write a comedy or drama, I just set out to write something that felt real to me.” 

Department head Julie Ray is heartened by the dedication of theatre undergraduates to creating original, collaborative works that are both timely and entertaining. “Our students are not only excelling academically but also putting in several hours a week to build something from the ground up - collaborating with one another but also faculty, staff, and graduate students in the process.” Much of the cast and production team for “First Semester” consists of members of co-producing student organization Thalian Blackfriars, one of the America’s oldest student-run theatrical outfits. While admission is free for “First Semester,” all donations made toward their co-partnership with “First Semester” will go on to directly benefit their student productions in the coming academic year. 

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