Junior theatre major Matthew Cruser attended a 32 Bars rehearsal to celebrate their 21st birthday. 

“One of my friends was like … ‘Are you gonna get lit?’ and I said the only thing that was getting lit was the stage,” they said. 

Amid their hectic post-Thanksgiving schedules, the members of 32 Bars meet and rehearse regularly to produce musical productions. Once every semester, this student-run musical theater club puts on a production of their choice. This fall’s musical is The Addams Family, which will premiere Dec. 7 at the Memorial Chapel.

Alongside rehearsals, 32 Bars holds multiple fundraisers for their productions throughout the semester. Production costs are high, according to Cruser, and 32 Bars does not charge admissions for their performances. 

“We want it to be as accessible as possible,” Cruser said

Cruser, who is 32 Bars’ treasurer, also works as the stage manager for The Addams Family. They said around 1,400 people attend performances of each production. 

[Sabrina Carpenter brings the Christmas spirit early with new ‘fruitcake’ EP]

According to Cruser, around half of 32 Bars’ members do not major in theatre. They said it’s nice to have a network of people involved in theatre to rely on, and that 32 Bars makes it easy for newcomers to try out the field.

“The one thing that I really enjoy about this is the camaraderie aspect of it all,” sophomore finance and operations management and business analytics major Michael Zajic. “Because we are all peers, we have a certain level of understanding with one another.” 

Zajic, one of the Addams Family production’s co-directors, joined the club because his sister was one of the founding members. This is his third semester as a member and first time in a director position which he said poses both a challenge and positive learning experience. 

Despite starting preparations later in the semester as the company awaited legal approval, Zajic is confident in the group’s Addams Family production. 

“Besides financials and the slow start that we had, we haven’t really come across many challenges,” Zajic said. “It’s been rather smooth, which, knock on wood, it will continue that way,”

[UMD professor exhibits large-scale sculptures in new DC exhibition]

Junior theater major and show co-director Alaina Jenkins said The Addams Family was her top choice of productions for the club’s fall musical. 

Jenkins said directing the show helped them to view musical theater from a different perspective than an actor’s perspective. They said being immersed in directing has allowed them to view theater from “behind the curtain.”

“I’m learning how much I love to direct, and how much I like … to really get actors to really find their characters in the show,” Jenkins said. 

Aside from The Addams Family, 32 Bars is organizing rehearsals for a concert-style show called The Hunger Games: An (Un)Official Musical. Cruser, who is not working on the production, said the show is a staged reading of original songs inspired by the Hunger Games franchise.