Real AD show inaugurates new performing arts center

Each year at NYU Abu Dhabi, a group of students gather to dedicate their summer to prepare the Real AD Show, a musical theatre production designed to ...

Sep 6, 2014

Each year at NYU Abu Dhabi, a group of students gather to dedicate their summer to prepare the Real AD Show, a musical theatre production designed to help freshman conquer the challenges of moving to NYUAD.
The Real AD Show was inspired by NYU New York’s “Reality Show”, a yearly performance prepared for freshmen by students most of whom are enrolled at NYU Tisch. Part of NYUNY’s orientation program, the Reality Show addresses issues college students will encounter on a regular basis — from drinking and smoking to safe sex and academics. The Reality Show showcases these issues in a humorous, theatrical manner, reminding students of how difficult college transition can be.
The Reality Show was created as a response to student suicides in NYU. In 2003, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library at NYU witnessed two suicides that involved students jumping from the top floors in separate incidents. The initial response from the university was to install Plexiglass barricades, but this did not stop a third student from taking his own life in 2009. After creating floor-to-ceiling metal barriers, NYU responded to the problem of student stress by commissioning Broadway legend Elizabeth Swados to put together a musical theatre performance, with the goal of addressing the mental health problems that can lead to such tragedies.
The NYUAD Real AD show aims to address similar issues students may experience with college life but includes matters unique to the NYUAD experience — moving overseas and adjusting to Emirati culture, amongst others.
This year's 14-people cast spent the summer in New York, where they worked to create new songs and choreographies for the show, which they presented on Sept. 7 after the Presidential Welcome.
Sanyu Kisaka, a member of the 2011 cast, spoke highly of the show and highlighted the cast’s cosmopolitanism “the team is a vibrant group of young people from all over the world who are putting their heads together to create something new” Sanyu said.
In the past, Swados has been at the center of the action, but returned in an advisory capacity to serve NYU Tisch alumnus and director Ryan Amador. Amador works alongside other NYU Tisch Alumni like cchoreographer Neema Atri, music director Ian Axness and assistant director Jeanna Phillips.
Amador has witnessed the progression of the show through its four years. When asked what is different this year, he stated:
“Previously, it’s been by the administration, for the students. This year, it’s by the students, for the students. The administration has a lot less input, and it really tackles some issues head on.”
Amador referred to certain acts in which students directly addressed issues that had been in the past addressed in a more implicit way.
Old numbers returned and were favourites amongst the upperclassmen and staff members who had seen the show in years past: “Pressure”, “Lucky Charms”, “Taboo Blues” and “Learn to Love and Live” for example. New numbers such as “Suicide”, “Addiction, and “Asian Adorable” received applause from the crowd.
Senior Grace Michael Hauser and junior Daniel Mountcastle were among those singing praises about the show after the performers had taken their final bow.
“I loved it”, said Hauser. “It’s always wonderful to see a performance that takes on a new angle every year.” Mountcastle agreed, saying that, “It’s wonderful to be part of a community of such inspired and talented individuals.”
Alexander Peel is deputy news editor. Email him at
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