Looking over my theatrical resume, I can count 23 musicals that I’ve performed in. Pretty nerdy or pretty impressive? I can’t even decide. Some of these musical productions have been bigger (and some have been better) than others, but one thing remains true: never have I ever been in a musical that quite compares in size or scale to this one, Ragtime.

I’ve also never been as intimidated by the ambition of a project. With the involvement of so many actors, musicians, directorial staff members and designers/technicians, I feel like there is far too much happening all at once to even attempt to wrap my head around it all. It’s difficult to have faith that in just four weeks time all the pieces will magically fall into place, which is why I pinch myself every time I wish we had a night off from rehearsal.

I think this project could mean far more to the Duke community than just a kickass musical production. I think the themes of the story and the score it has been set to really speak to the student body of our university. I hope that we, as cast and crew, can develop the kind of collective consciousness that many of the characters from E.L. Doctorow’s novel come into. I also hope that we can bestow that kind of thinking on every audience member we have, come April. A school like Duke might seem small when contrasted with larger universities, but it felt big when I arrived here and still sometimes there are days on campus where I feel surrounded by strangers. As the cast comes together through rehearsals, it’d be great if the dialogue about our show and about everything its story signifies could bring our campus together in a similar way.

I think that each of us involved with Ragtime has been presented with a unique and truly incredible opportunity. If we put in the work required, I think we’ll put on a great show. If we put in more, however—which I’m certain we can—then I think we’ll end up with something unforgettable.