Junior Kerri Golden never expected to play a squirrel and Regina George in the same show. In fact, she never expected to be in a show at all.

Golden came to the University to play softball, but departed from the team within her first semester. While softball still held a spot in her heart, and she participated in Club Softball as a way to retain that love and keep it in play, she stumbled into a meeting for On Broadway Off Campus (OBOC) and never looked back.

OBOC touts themselves as a “musical revue group,” of which puts on cabaret-esque shows each semester. For the non-musical theater layperson, that means that each show is full of songs from different musicals. Want to see Broadway hits like “Hamilton” and “Mean Girls” and lesser-known cult favorites like “Ride The Cyclone” all in one? OBOC’s the pit stop for them all. Each song is directed, choreographed, acted, engineered, and accompanied by student performers, and the pieces range from small groups and duets to full groups of the entire “cast.” 

Direction is done in pairs as a way to support new members with interest, and students choose their commitment level based off of the numbers that they audition for, which all have set times and days of rehearsal. 

For someone like Golden, who invested her entire pre-college career into sports (with the occasional foray into choir and a cappella), theater was the furthest thing from her mind when entering college. “I was never set up to diversify,” she said. “However, I had always wanted to do musical theater, and after quitting the team, I needed an outlet.”

Golden remembers the pandemic days of OBOC in a fonder way than most; being outside and 12 feet apart under a giant white tent may sound like a nightmare to some, but for her, it was a fresh start. Within seconds, people were asking for her name; within minutes, she was singing and dancing as if she had done it all her life. It’s something she notices in other students who join — they, in her words, “go from not knowing what “Hamilton” is to not missing a beat.”

That’s not to say that OBOC is for everyone. The relaxed nature of the group and lack of overarching structure has proven to not be everyone’s cup of tea, and previous shows have had a range of impact. Due to the nature of the club, which showcases a variety of performers, there’s bound to be more hits and misses than in a show with a more cohesive cast. However, OBOC serves as a stepping stone for students who want to interface with the musical theater community on campus without the commitment of a full show, a la ROC Players. This makes it, in many ways, more accessible to first-time performers.

Golden is a shining example of OBOC’s accessibility, and she reps it loud and proud to anyone who will listen. “In sports, you’re so in yourself,” she said. “You’re watching a ball, you’re watching a puck, there’s a fence separating you from your audience. Now, I’m playing towards an audience, and it’s crazy how different that can be.”

In addition to acting, getting a start in directing with OBOC is made intentionally collaborative and easy to dip your toe into. Golden, who loved to dance, created and taught her own choreography “School Song” from “Matilda.” The initial number is daunting; known for its hard-hitting, intricate choreography that relies on the set for its impact. “All this hard work culminated in my piece,” she said. “In helping all these people, you become so much more of yourself.”

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