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‘Post Mortem’ Preview: An Exciting Showcase of First-Year Students’ Talents

Andreea Haidau '26 and Julianna J. Poulson '26 perform in Harvard's 28th First-Year Musical, "Post Mortem."
Andreea Haidau '26 and Julianna J. Poulson '26 perform in Harvard's 28th First-Year Musical, "Post Mortem." By Selorna A. Ackuayi
By Rachel A. Beard, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard College’s first-year students took the stage by storm with their production of “Post Mortem: The Musical,” an original musical that promised a mix of humor, emotion, and thought-provoking moments, entirely created and produced by first-year students. “Post Mortem” ran at the Agassiz Theatre from April 27 through April 30.

Set at the fictional Bale University, “Post Mortem” follows the story of a struggling Latin department and its faculty who are thrown into chaos by the announcement of its imminent shutdown and the summoning of the Roman poet Catullus’s spirit. The characters confront the challenges of academia and navigate the complexities of their relationships with one another in a show filled with humor and references to classic Greek and Roman literature.

As the first-year musical team includes students with various levels of experience, the show displayed months of collaborative learning.

“It’s been a really lovely experience learning on the job together,” director Lola R. McKenzie ’26 said. “I think it’s a really nice way to get thrown into the arts at Harvard.”

Executive producer Gabriel K. Brock ’26 described the set design as a Latin department at a university resembling “everything that depresses you about academia.” This visual aesthetic is intended to evoke the environment of Bale University, where the story takes place. Brock’s role as executive producer has allowed him to oversee the technical and publicity aspects of the show, sharing finance responsibilities with finance producer Tammy S. Lee ’26.

“It’s really exciting to see all these individual departments that have been largely working separately come together and now see again in person what we are all thinking about and imagining,” stage manager Hugo L. M. Hinze ’26 said.

Hinze highlights the accessibility and educational aspect of the first-year musical, making it a unique opportunity for students new to theater.

Actors Noa Goldstein ’26 (Lesbia), Elizabeth M. Crawford ’26 (Tracie), and William R. Murray ’26 (Catullus) shared their enthusiasm for being part of the first-year musical, emphasizing the sense of community it fosters among students interested in the arts. They praised the student-written script and music, expressing amazement at the talent of their fellow first-year students.

“I'm having the absolute best of times. I like this because it's a great way to meet other people in our grade, especially in the arts,” Goldstein said.

“I think the coolest part for me is that it's all student-written," Crawford added.

Book writer Paul Palmer Jr. III ’26 said that the show is “definitely a musical like no other” and “definitely untraditional.”

“My favorite part of the show is the people in it,” Palmer said. “If you look at the whole amount of musicaling that we’ve done, I’ve done so very little with it and these people are taking it and like running with it.”

The writing process for “Post-Mortem” began with brainstorming sessions where the creative team pitched ideas and refined the plot. Hinze explained that the first full draft of the script was completed by winter break, with most of the songwriting and composing taking place during that time. The music in “Post-Mortem” is equally as impressive as the script. The creative team, including lyricist Eleni P. Dadian ’26 and composer Christian Liu ’26, crafted a score that perfectly captures the tone and themes of the show.

“Post Mortem” delivers a rollercoaster of emotions, with plenty of laughs and some poignant moments. One example of the comedy in the play is from Aiden J. Bowers ’26, who plays the lead role of Professor Eric Bodnar. Bowers’s comedic talent was on full display, using his facial expressions and body language to deliver hilarious moments throughout the performance.

“They should expect to laugh a lot, maybe cry at times. It's also very emotional at times,” said Hinze.

“You're gonna laugh the whole time. You're not going to stop laughing,” Crawford said.

The first-year students comprising the cast and crew of "Post Mortem” were eager and enthusiastic for the Harvard community to experience their talent and hard work.

“Come with an open mind and be ready to have fun,” Hinze said.

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