UNL students bring dream to life, create musical

Meredith Toebben has always had a love for musical theater. She said her favorite musicals have the power to make her heart ache, and she had always dreamt that one day her music could evoke the same emotions in someone else.

“Musical theater has been a huge part of my life for a very long time,” Toebben said. “My musical and compositional interests started in theater and have never strayed away. I want someone to feel that way about my music.”

As a music education major with an emphasis in composition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Toebben is required to compose a recital in her last two years of college. According to Toebben, a composition recital usually showcases a variety of unrelated, original songs by the student.

Toebben said the normal composition recital felt like more of a chore than something she would enjoy, so she decided to pitch a different idea to her composition professor.

“I decided to go out on a limb and ask my professor if there was any way that I could write a musical instead, as that is truly where my interest lies,” Toebben said. “To my surprise, he loved the idea.”

So during the spring 2016 semester, Toebben and another UNL student set out to write “Lost & Found.”

The musical tells the story of six recent college graduates who are all in different stages of figuring out what comes next.

Toebben said she hopes students who see the show walk away knowing they aren’t alone.

“College is a time where we are all finding ourselves and establishing what is important to us,” Toebben said. “This is the exact thing each of these characters are struggling with. I hope everyone watching the show sees a bit of themselves up there.”

While seeing all of the moving parts that go into a musical come together has been incredibly rewarding, Toebben said, watching the music come to life has been the best part.

“Hearing people sing and play our songs has to be the best part of this entire experience,” Toebben said. “When real people are performing your pieces, it is all of a sudden intensely real.”

Justin Eisenbeis, a senior music education major and the accompanist for “Lost & Found,” said watching his friends bring their show to life has inspired him to maybe create something of his own one day.

“I think the most rewarding part is being able to experience the part of musicals that most people aren’t able to experience,” Eisenbeis said. “I get to be more than just a rehearsal accompanist. I get to witness the creators of the show make decisions and workshop new ideas.”

Finding the balance between writing and producing a musical with being a full-time student does not come without its challenges. But according to Toebben, it’s something she cares about so she makes time for it.

“I’m able to balance ‘Lost & Found’ with school because I’m so incredibly invested in it,” Toebben said. “Anything you are completely invested in warrants making time for.”

“Lost & Found” will be showing on April 6-7 at 8 p.m. at the Find Your Grind Collective inside of The Bay Coffee Bar at 2005 Y St. Admission is free.

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