Meet the actors in ECC’s recent musical, “The Mad Ones”

Cole Christensen, Staff Writer

From Feb. 24 to March 5, the Elgin Community College Arts Center hosted “The Mad Ones,” a coming-of-age musical by Kait Kerrigan and Bree Lowdermilk. The show featured a group of both current and former students.

“The Mad Ones is about a girl in high school [and] her struggle with moving forward in life,” said Gabrielle Urbina, who plays the lead role, Sam. “She wants to take a big step and leave behind the past.”

Urbina has had a passion for theater her whole life, following the footsteps of her older sister. She describes Sam as someone who “struggles to express her wants and feel her feelings.”

In many ways, Sam is no different from ECC students: unsure of what the future holds, the desire to explore new terrain and moving on from old friends. Unlike most students, though, Sam loses her best friend, Kelly, to a car crash.

Sam is indecisive about what she wants to do, and Kelly’s death only makes it harder.

Unlike Sam, Kelly is “a very easygoing and confident person,” said the actress who played Kelly, Olivia Litton. “She sees life as something that is not serious and always preaches about living in the moment.”

Kelly and Sam shared the same dream of living a “mad” lifestyle. Their dream was influenced by Jack Keroauc’s “On The Road,” a book about a hitchhiker, smack dab in the middle of The Beat Generation. Sam is losing this dream without Kelly’s guidance.

Litton admires Kelly’s fun spirit and relates with Sam as well because she too has experienced a close loss in her life.

“After losing someone you love, it can be hard to move on and I think this show highlights the fact that it is okay to move on while also keeping that person in your memories,” Litton said. “It is memories that shape us as a person.”

Interestingly, Urbina and Litton have been great friends, like Sam and Kelly, long before this musical.

“She told me she was auditioning for The Mad Ones,” Urbina said. “I thought, ‘Oh, that’s really interesting’, and I listened to the soundtrack and thought ‘Wow, this show is beautiful,’ so I decided to do it.”

The actresses emphasize how the music is both unique and challenging. The song that stands out most to Urbina is the title track, “The Mad Ones.”

“It took a lot of time to learn and perfect the music alongside all of the acting that is required for this show,” Litton said. 

Pamela Gianakakos, who plays the role of Beverly, Sam’s mother, agrees with the difficulty of perfecting the music.

“While I’m not a mom of an 18 year old like Beverly, I am a mom of a 3-year-old,” Gianakakos said. “Thinking about my daughter leaving for school or whatever path she chooses makes me feel very emotional and I still have 15 years till that happens.”

Pamela has been performing in ECC productions since 2007, and has no plans to stop.

The actors who play major roles such as Sam, Kelly, and Beverly typically have experience. For those interested in performing for the first time, there are plenty of entry-level roles, such as understudies or ensembles.

“A really good, low pressure way to start is by joining the Performing Arts Club,” Urbina said. “It’s a good way to get involved and get to know people who are in theater at ECC.”

Check out the next musical, play, or talk to someone who has participated in past projects. 

“It’s a great show,” Urbina said. “It might make you cry a little bit, you will be moved, and the music will be great.”