When the curtain opens on Nebraska Wesleyan University’s production of “Mamma Mia”, it will mark Adelaide Daniel’s first major role.
It will mark weeks of line memorization and singing and dancing rehearsals.
“I have been working toward a goal of getting to play a quirky and fun role in a musical,” said the senior theatre major. “I have been lucky enough to be in an ensemble of musicals here at NWU where I have been able to develop character-building skills and comedic timing.”
Flashback one year ago when Daniel took a break from school and the stage to assist with Hurricane Harvey cleanup in her hometown of Houston, Texas.
“My suburb ended up being almost destroyed,” she recalled. “One-third of the homes were destroyed, while the other two-thirds had some damage. My street was completely flooded for a few days, but we were lucky enough to where the water only reached our front doorstep.”
Family and friends were displaced. Images of her hometown under water were never-ending.
“I had been through many hurricanes,” she said. “But I had never seen anything like Harvey.”
She, like many others, went into full recovery mode in an effort to salvage what they could. And she wanted to do more. Daniel designed a “Houston Strong” tshirt with plans to donate all proceeds to the Houston Food Bank and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She reconnected with her friends at Nebraska Wesleyan sharing her personal story and raising greater awareness for natural disaster relief.
“I had never done anything like this on my own, but I knew I needed to help,” she said.
Her plea to the NWU campus resulted in $1,000 in t-shirt sales.
By January, Daniel was ready to return to class by way of Milan, Italy.
“I always knew that I wanted to study abroad in college as my parents and I traveled a lot when I was growing up,” she said. “I wanted to explore on my own.”
In Milan, Daniel studied Italian film, literature, history, and the commedia dell’arte acting style. She surrounded herself with creative people in fashion, design, art, and photography.
“I would not trade my experience for anything, and it was the best thing I have decided to do while in college,” she recalled. “It refreshed me mentally and prepared me for the real world. As an actress, it taught me how to free myself and to adapt to new environments quickly.”
A year away meant refamiliarizing herself with the McDonald Theatre stage while also exploring a theatre field that can sometimes go unnoticed: dramaturgy.
“The most important job a dramaturg has is to make sure the messages in the play or musical are being understood clearly, so the audience is able to relate better to the story. We have a family friend who is a dramaturg, so it has been something I have been around for as long as I can remember. I love research, so I decided it was something I should try.”
This fall Daniel was the assistant dramaturg for Nebraska Wesleyan’s production, “Julius Caesar.”
“I got to combine my love for Shakespeare and history while also watching a production develop from the beginning,” said Daniel, who will serve as dramaturg for the spring production of ‘Nell Gwynn’. “It was completely different from anything I’ve ever done.”
Following her graduation in May, Daniel plans to work in theatre and eventually pursue a master’s degree in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism.
But first she must embrace the role of Tanya, the witty, wealthy divorcee in the musical smash, “Mamma Mia,” something she can do with much confidence following a year of change.
I have always wanted to be in ‘Mamma Mia’,” said Daniel. “So it has been extremely fun developing this character and a huge learning experience.”
—Story by Danielle Anderson, public relations writer