On September 17, NYU Abu Dhabi students, staff, and faculty gathered at Abu Dhabi's Heritage Club Theater for the Presidential Welcome and Real AD Show. Continuing the tradition he established last year, NYU President John Sexton kicked off the evening with a welcoming address. Later, 16 members of the Class of 2014 (including the author of this post) took to the stage for the Real AD Show, a performance that illustrated the reality of life at NYUAD through music, dance, comedy, and drama.
The students, who spent the majority of the summer at NYU New York writing, composing, and rehearsing the show, worked with theater professionals Matthew Robert Gehring, Sam Willmott, Stephanie Hsu, Michael Ulreich, NYUAD theater professor Rubén Polendo, and renowned director Elizabeth Swados from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. In just a few short weeks, the cast created their own version of NYUNY's Reality Show — a ritual performed for its freshman class each year — specifically dedicated to the ups, downs, and in-betweens of life as a member of the NYU Abu Dhabi community.
After the summer, when the cast reunited in Abu Dhabi, their efforts were condensed into a singular, one-hour performance. However, despite its brevity, the Real AD Show appears to have had a real impact on the NYUAD Class of 2015. Reactions to the show were many and varied, though all were impressed by the quality of the performance, particularly given that the majority of the cast had little prior theater experience. Freshman Cleo Smits described the musical as "really funny — it poked fun at the University in a tasteful way — not afraid to say what's real."
The show touched on a host of issues ranging from peacefully existing with roommates, to getting acclimated to new surroundings, to the potential productivity drain of getting a bit too hooked to Facebook and other social media sites.
"The musical was great because we could relate to it," said freshman Bobby Haynes, "and now we have a better idea of what we can look forward to."