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FIU's latest production marks launch of new musical theatre programs
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Book by Jeffrey Lane, Music & Lyrics by David Yazbek. Directed by Olivia de Guzman. Music Direction by Jessica Amores Diaz. Choreography by Herman Payne. Production Stage Manager Skylar Lewis-Shirley. Scenic Design by Jennifer Ivey. Costume Design by Marina Pareja. Sound Design by Christopher Goslin. Lighting Design by Chloe Vouglas. Performances by Alejandro Arreola, Bianca Borge, Bella Burgos, Matthew Hernandez, Daniela Irausquin, Kailee Larmon, Lauren Maqueira, Luis Otamendi, Alexandra Reyes, Victoria Rodriguez, Carlo Serrano, Cristian Torres, Marycary Fundora-Sonora, Richard Weber. Photos by Ivan Lopez

FIU's latest production marks launch of new musical theatre programs

February 20, 2024 at 9:00am

Being on the verge of something new and unknown can be a scary and exhilarating experience. FIU’s latest theatrical production, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, is a hilarious and full-of-heart musical that lives on that ledge, now playing at The Wertheim through Feb. 25 as part of FIU Theatre’s landmark 50th season.

The musical marks the first of what will become a yearly collaboration between the Department of Theatre and the Wertheim School of Music and Performing Arts as both programs launch their new degrees in musical theatre.

“Our newly launched musical theatre programs will continue our long tradition of preparing career-ready graduates by building upon the strengths of our world-class faculty and our amazingly talented and motivated students,” says Brian Schriner, dean of the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts.

Set in 1980s Madrid, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is a musical adaptation of the critically acclaimed film by legendary filmmaker Pedro Almodovar. The story centers around Pepa, an actress whose lover has abandoned her by voicemail. Determined to find out why, she sets off a hilarious chain of events that brings her face to face with other women jilted by the same man.

“This story is about being on the verge of change,” says the show’s director, Olivia de Guzman. “It can be difficult, uncomfortable or scary. We watch these poor characters resist change until they break down and tip over the verge. Some may even make it to the other side. Ultimately, it's a joy-in-the-journey type of tale. With so much change going on in our world right now, it's a timely tale.”

De Guzman knows a little about change herself. She moved to Miami to join the theatre faculty this past fall and head up the new BFA in Musical Theatre program. This play marks her FIU directorial debut.

The musical is full of laughs and an eclectic selection of songs played by six musicians, led by musical director Jessica Amores Diaz, a graduate student in the school of music.

“My favorite thing about the music in the show is the grooves,” says Amores Diaz. “The music is very Latin jazz oriented. There’s bossa nova and samba and even a fast jazz waltz. In the pit, we feel like we’re just jamming out the whole time.”

Musicals present unique challenges for the actors who have to do everything they would do in a normal play and then some. For Daniela Irausquin, a BFA acting sophomore who plays Pepa, the extra work is exciting.

“We have to put so much together in this play.” says Irausquin. “We’re singing, dancing and acting all at the same time, and it’s a fun challenge to connect everything together. For me, it's been about finding that zen mode where I can focus and let go.”

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is now playing at The Wertheim Performing Arts Center through Feb. 25.