Skule Nite, the annual revue put on by U of T’s engineering students, returned for its 97th run from March 14–17 at Hart House Theatre. The sketch comedy and musical showcase was composed completely of work by current engineering students and alums.
Skule Nite allows engineers to showcase their talents in song, dance, and sketch writing. The musical poked fun at the quirks of university experiences, including relationships and online dating, finding a job, studying and food cravings, and the occasional summoning of Satan.
The show’s production process lasted nearly an entire year, with the creative work and brainstorming beginning in July and auditions in September. The students’ work definitely came through in their performance.
Chris Renaud, an engineering alum and this year’s musical director of Skule Nite, described the songs as “creative re-imaginings of other songs.” The songs featured in the musical all had their lyrics rewritten with lyrics to match the sense of humour of the musical. “The songs are picked first in the summer… and ultimately form most of the vision of the show,” said Renaud.
Renaud broke down the process of the music behind the musical. “It’s a pretty fun process because the people in the creative team — myself, the directors, the vocals, the choreo team, the producers — we all get to pick our own ideas for songs,” said Renaud. “It takes a long time for us to go through each individual song… put together concepts, discuss the feasibility, and how awesome it would be.”
The songs remain at the core of the musical, with the sketches emerging from them. “It was a really fun process and one of my favourite parts about doing Skule Nite,” said Renaud.
Pia Dimayuga, a cast member of Skule Nite and current engineering student, discussed the intensive work that went into their performances. “We started having some rehearsals in the fall and then starting second semester, much more heavily. Cast are in rehearsal about 16 hours a week.”
This includes working on both their sketches and musical numbers. Dimayuga said that there are two weekday rehearsals for the sketches, which are workshopped with the director and assistant director. On weekends, the cast rehearses vocals and choreography.
This year, Dimayuga, a Skule Nite veteran, joined the cast again. The show’s basis of combining sketch and music doesn’t change, but the changing cast adds to the experience. “I think Skule Nite is one of those really cool things that is very different every year because the people that you do it with [are] very different every year,” she said.
What stays the same is the ethos of the show. As Renaud puts it: “a big [and] kind of unique fact about Skule Nite is that we’re engineers doing artistic stuff.”