About halfway through Admissions: The Musical, Archie, a high school senior, is stuck in the college-admission interview from hell. He answers every question wrong, his interviewer seems to hate him — and at the end of the day, he doesn’t even want to go to that college. “I wanted to do what my parents did, and what their dads did, and what their dads did,” the Penn legacy tells his interviewer. “And the worst part is, I did everything right! All the trophies, all the recitals, all the grades!”
The scene is both heartbreaking and hilarious, but it also hits on why the Princeton undergraduates behind Admissions are uniquely suited to writing about the trials and tribulations of applying to college. “This is a process that all of us went through and all of us agonized over,” explained senior Clayton Raithel, who co-wrote the play with Dan Abromowitz ’13 and Nora Sullivan ’12. “The themes in this show — self-definition, moving on to new experiences, leaving your friends — speak to us directly.”
Abromowitz, Raithel, and Sullivan have helped to write multiple Triangle Club shows. In January 2011, they decided to create their own musical. They recruited fellow Triangle Club member J.T. Glaze ’13 as director, settled on a concept, and began work.
Admissions is very much a collaborative effort: It was co-produced by the campus’s two largest student-run theater groups, Theatre Intime and the Princeton University Players, and more than 40 undergraduates worked on it as actors, musicians, producers, and designers.
The subject matter made the musical ideal for the Princeton Preview weekends in April, when admitted high school students visited campus. “It gives incoming students a great sense of the creative opportunities they could have here — they could do anything from acting to writing to directing,” explained Daniel Rattner ’13, Theatre Intime’s general manager.
Though Admissions depicts applying to college in the age of the Common Application and websites like College Confidential, Raithel said the process is a timeless one. “On some level, applying to college hasn’t changed — it still forces young adults to define themselves and to market themselves, and I remember feeling very overwhelmed.”
The writers hope that Admissions might have a second life after Princeton, but they aren’t in any rush to get it published. “We need to figure out our own lives before we figure out what’s going to happen to this play,” Raithel said.