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The Show Must Go On

Rebecca McDermott
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

Last spring, the world stood still. Businesses shut down and students completed the semester online. When time stood still and the world changed as we know it, Gabriela Cranga, C’21, did the one thing she knew best: she performed.

smoke-zoom-in-text.jpegAs an active member of the Visual and Performing Arts program at the Mount, Gabi and her peers initially worried about how they would continue to perform when they were separated last semester. “The members of the chorale stayed connected through music over the unexpected spring semester because it gave us a sense of normalcy,” she said. “I think it taught all of us that art cannot be defeated, it adapts. We adapt.”  

The group exhibited their perseverance with a memorable virtual rendition of the song “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” Gabi was at the heart of this performance, singing two parts of the song. The video, which featured eight members of the Mount Chorale performing individual parts, brought the Mount community together at a time when everyone was separated.  

While the group had the opportunity to briefly rehearse some of the song prior to being sent home, the majority of rehearsals took place in the comfort of their own homes. Gabi explained, “I would go down into the smallest room in my basement and shut the door, hoping that my family wouldn’t hear, only for them to hear the whole thing!”

As an elementary education major and dual minor in Spanish and youth ministry, Gabi worried that there would not be a place for her in the performing arts. However, both the flexibility of the program and Gabi’s love for the arts allowed her to pursue her greatest passion. “To be completely honest, it was the Visual and Performing Arts that found me.  Even as a non-major, I found my place in Delaplaine 113,” she said. As a freshman, Gabi had professors and students alike ask her to get involved, and this theme has continued through to her senior year.

When she arrived at the Mount, Gabi worried that she did not have the ability to perform at the college level. However, those fears quickly subsided as she became an integral part of the group. Along the way, she even discovered a newfound love for music. “I had never fallen so deeply in love with music than I did that first year,” she explained. “Every mistake seemed beautiful because it led to an even better sound, an even better feeling of ‘Wow, I can do this.’”  

Throughout her time with the program, Gabi has been able to participate in a variety of theatre productions.  She was the only female freshman who secured a singing lead in the musical "Working." The show was a great success and gave Gabi valuable performing experience. “Those weekday evenings clustered around a piano, banging out parts, and making a lot of mistakes were my favorite parts of the week,” she exclaimed. “Here, I was creating something again, but something entirely built on harmony and rhythm, teamwork and personal risk.”  

Each member of the eight-person chorus had a personal sound. This meant that if one person was off key, everyone would be off. This show and other musical performances required members to lean on and trust one another. “'Working' was my coming-of-age show,” Gabi said. “Everyone deserves to have a show like this.” The musical was a huge hit with a packed crowd attending each night, and it set the tone for Gabi’s journey.  

Gabi has also participated in a number of other notable productions including the Gala in December 2019 at the Delaplaine Fine Arts Center in Frederick. She was also a part of the shows "Almost Maine" (Spring 2018) and "My Way" (Fall 2018).

Though not a liberal arts major, Gabi is fully aware of the opportunities that the liberal arts have exposed her to at the Mount. She added, “The liberal arts as well as performing have given me a priceless gem of reality, with a slice of surrealism right beside it.” Gabi discovered the arts cultivated her knowledge and enhanced her self-image.  

gabi.jpegAs the university and the Visual and Performing Arts Department continues to grapple with the uncertainties that come with the COVID-19 pandemic, Gabi and her peers are determined to make the best of this unusual year. This fall the program welcomed its biggest Chorale since 2017, and it will continue to take advantage of technological methods that allow students to showcase their talent.  Just recently, Gabi was praised across various Mount social media platforms as she performed an impromptu rendition of the Broadway hit song “Me and the Sky” to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. 

 It will certainly be a year unlike any other for Gabi and her peers in the performing arts. While they may not perform in front of packed crowds for the time being, there is no doubting that the members of the program will continue to use art to navigate these uncertain times. “We need art to understand the world around us,” Gabi explained, “and whenever the world doesn’t make any sense, we cling to art.” After all, as they say in show business, the show must go on.

Rebecca McDermott
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts