BIDDEFORD, Maine — The University of New England Players will start performances of "Chicago" next week. It's not the fact that a Maine college is putting on a play that makes this a story; it's the circumstances surrounding it.
When Autumn Stupca joined the club four years ago, there were just eight members; now 50 students are putting on a full-fledged musical. The club was formed about ten years ago faculty administrator Steven Byrd tells us. Byrd signed on to help a few years ago after watching a few of their plays. He helped take some of the pressure off by finding a director, Paul Fidalgo, and a music director, Terry Foster. He even found them a space to perform in.
The rest is up to the students. Luckily, membership has grown since Stupca and Byrd joined the ranks.
"We have about 30 members in our cast," explains Stupca. "Fifteen of which are also pit members, and backstage crew we have I think around seven or eight people signed up, so that’s almost 50 just in this one show."
For Stupca, one of only a few English majors on a campus of mostly medical and biology students, this troupe has become like family. "It was hard for me to be here and be an English major and not feel like I had anyone to connect with and now there are 50 people who have the same interests just in theater is really heartwarming to be around."
Stupca graduates in May, along with a few other members of the UNE Players, but she feels like they're leaving it in good hands, "That’s I think what’s kept me going is seeing how dedicated people are to something that doesn’t really exist on campus except for us."