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Sophia Schott `21 revives Grinnell’s underground musical scene with “I Dig You”

Sophia Schott `21 (standing center) wrote and directed the musical “I Dig You.” Photo by Isabel Torrence.

The musical “I Dig You,” written and directed by Grinnell College alum Sophia Schott `21, opens in Roberts Theatre on Dec. 10. The musical is set in a dystopic future where two families living in adjacent bunkers are completely unaware of the other’s existence. After being stuck underground for 19 years, two daughters, one from each of the families, attempt to dig their way to the surface. “It’s about game night, matching sweaters, family togetherness and creating their own kind of ideal, tranquil life, away from the unknowable and dangerous things on the top,” said Schott.

Schott started writing the script when she studied off campus during the fall semester of her third year at the National Music Theatre Institute in Connecticut. Inspired by an exercise where the students were asked to think about a place, Schott started writing the song “Someone Like Me,” which would eventually make it into the final version of the musical.

Back on campus, Schott did a music Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) during the summer of 2020 with Professor John Rommereim, music, for which she completed writing the musical.

Schott always wanted to produce a musical at Grinnell, but the pandemic made that impossible during her time as a student on campus. But thanks to the Curd Ninth Semester Fellowship in Music which she received, she had the opportunity to come back to campus after graduating and make the most of Grinnell’s theatre resources.

I hope people leave thinking about how they can better love themselves and other people. — Sophia Schott `21

After holding auditions for the musical via Zoom in October, the cast has been rehearsing in Roberts Theatre. “[Since] this is an original play, we’re literally just seeing it materialize in front of us for the first time, which has been kind of new and different,” said Maia DeGrazia `24, who plays the character Lizzie Holt.

Luca Blankenship `24, who plays two characters named Frank and Donner, applauded the play’s relatable characters and Schott’s flexible nature as a director. Schott is known to allow actors to make minor changes in how they perform their roles based on their own interpretations of their characters.

DeGrazia said, “I think it [the musical] is very relatable for a lot of young women or young people in general; finding who they are and being ushered into that.”

As both the writer and the director of the production, Schott has led both the logistical and artistic aspects of the musical. The musical’s score will also be played by a student pit orchestra. Schott relied on the theatre wisdom of Rommereim, Brian Cavanagh-Strong `09, Kate Baumgartner `12 and Nolan Boggess `19 to make the play a reality.

When asked about the effect she hopes her musical has on the audience, Schott said, “I hope people leave thinking about how they can better love themselves and other people.”

“I Dig You” opens in Roberts Theatre on Friday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. with following productions on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 12 at 2:00 p.m.

This article has been updated to reflect the correct name of  DeGrazia’s character. Updated Dec. 7, 2021, 4:50 p.m. 

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