By Charlie Wein
The students in the MSLCE program get many opportunities to work with and support actual companies in the Chicago area while in school. Whether building marketing plans or making creative suggestions, this experience is invaluable. This year, however, there was an even greater opportunity for the students to take charge as the School of Communication hosted Commfest, one of the largest events in over 100 years- and take charge is just what MSLCE did.
A two-day panel of presentations, masterclasses, and alumni events culminated in a grand show with some of Northwestern SoCs foremost alums, including Stephen Colbert, Heather Headley, Laura Innes, Richard Kind, Tony Roberts, and many more. The show aptly titled “A Starry Night” was a huge success not just on stage, but behind the scenes and in the hands of MSLCE students Danny Bittker, Saba Ottman, Jeremy Morall, Tate Glover, Adrian Alea, Amy Young, and myself (Charlie Wein).
Danny, acting as assistant to the producers, had the difficult task of balancing both schoolwork and the unbelievable preparations necessary for an event of this size, but throughout the process found how central his experience in MSLCE was. “The experience was an incredible opportunity to see from start to finish a live event and television production come to life. The opportunity to work on A Starry Night was one that wouldn’t have been possible without the MSLCE program and the connections they created. I loved every moment of working on the show, and in the end the production itself was amazing and resonated with the students and alumni in attendance.”
While Danny was running things out front, Saba, Amy, Jeremy, and myself had an equally daunting task back stage- talent management. While Richard Kind was performing a number with Brian D’Arcy James and Gregg Edelman, the MSLCE students were responsible for making sure that the other 20 or so VIPs were ready to go at a moments notice. Leading a team of volunteers (each assigned to a specific talent) the students used their newly refined leadership and problem-solving skills to keep the show running smoothly- managing situations big and small; from finding lost celebrities, to locating celebrities lost dogs and ties.
In the end, the show was effectively run and could not have happened without the management and leadership skills of the MSLCE students. A Starry Night turned into a masterclass greater than any group project or final exam us students could have had throughout this previous year, and the grand success of the event showcases just how valuable our skills are.