Happy Grand Roundhog Day!

9:37 PM

Author | Sara Walker

What a weekend! Last Saturday and Sunday served as the culmination of two very important events for Galens – the 2014 Smoker production Grand Roundhog Day and the Centennial Gala celebrating the 100-year history of Galens Medical Society. Galens was founded in 1914 as an honors society and has performed a vaudeville-type show each year since 1918. For the 1962 Smoker, Bob Bartlett (inventor of ECMO) had the idea of doing a show with a cohesive theme – Medicine Man, based on the musical The Music Man.

Almost 200 medical students were involved in this year's Smoker with preparations beginning in September for this completely student-run, -written, -produced spectacular. All of these students are shepherded by a collection of fourth-year medical students known as czars (2 Director Czars, 2 Producer Czars, 3 Dance Demi-Czars, 2 Music Demi-Czars).

At the first meeting in early September, medically related story titles are suggested, such as Prader-Willi Wonka (2010 Smoker) or Thrombin Hood and His Merry Meds (2012 Smoker). Voting yields the six-ish pitches that could become the new Smoker theme. Later in October is the pitch meeting, where each writing group describes and advocates for their theme with the final theme selection decision made by the end of the night.

Until mid-November, students work in scene writing groups to create their jokes, one-liners, parody songs, and dialogue. After they have finished, the Director Czars and the Producer Czars take all of the material and incorporate it into a cohesive script, a massive undertaking.

Auditions are held in December and actors learn their roles in early January at the script read-through with the entire cast. In addition to the acting rehearsals, dance and singing rehearsals also begin in earnest at this point.

Throughout this entire process thus far, the titles, pitches, and scene ideas are shrouded in the deepest secrecy and jokingly referred to as the Smoker-HIPAA. This year, the Smoker title was officially announced on February 2, a very fitting choice. The Smoker poster was also unveiled:

© Copyright 1995-2024 Regents of the University of Michigan

This past week, known as Tech Week, the entire cast and crew moved from the STAC (Student Theatre Arts Complex) where we had been rehearsing to the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre where the show is actually performed. The lighting cues are hashed out, and the microphone scheme updated (to get a sense of what a monumental undertaking the latter is, imagine trying to determine how to distribute 16 microphones to the over 50 people that were in each scene).

We were at the theatre starting at 5pm every day and most days left close to midnight – the cast really began to bond (frankly, who wouldn't after that concentrated amount of time near each other). After the dress rehearsal on Thursday, we were all excited for the live shows on Friday and Saturday.

The shows themselves were amazing – everyone performed the best they had all week, and the audience spent almost the entire time laughing. The most entertaining part for me came during one of the faculty cameos on Friday (each night, 2-3 faculty members come on stage and deliver a line instead of the medical student portraying them).

During the second act, Dr. Mark Orringer, the thoracic surgeon whose day just kept repeating itself, attempts to teach a third-year medical student how to two-hand tie a knot. He tries direct instruction, slower direct instruction, and even cheerleading in attempts to help this hapless medical student. But, sadly, you can't save them all, and Dr. Orringer suggests that the student consider another worthwhile specialty (after several minutes of thinking, he finally names radiology). This last suggestion was made by the actual Dr. Orringer on Friday night's show, and the audience loved it!

After the show, all of the Orringers assembled (the true Dr. Orringer and the five different medical students who played him at various points during the show) to recreate the "Orringer Centered Experience" (based on the Family Centered Experience, part of the medical-school curriculum for first-year students).

From left to right: Peter Finin, Adam Weightman, Colin Mervak, Dr. Mark Orringer, Brian Salata, Matt Rausch

After the Saturday show wrapped, many of us went directly to the Centennial Gala, where we were able to meet alumni and faculty members of Galens. We were even treated to Bob Bartlett and another member of his original barbershop quartet sing a few songs from Medicine Man!

We then went to the Smoker after-party, which was a blast! We all had so much fun, but it was definitely a bittersweet moment – our cast really came together during Tech Week and we are all rather sad that it's over. We can't wait for next year to do it all over again!

© Copyright 1995-2024 Regents of the University of Michigan
Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]

734-764-2220

Stay Informed

Want top health & research news weekly? Sign up for Health Lab’s newsletters today!

Subscribe
Featured News & Stories Toddler Martina smiling.
Philanthropy News
Rallying Together to Support Childhood Cancer Awareness and Research
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time to recognize the impact of pediatric cancer and highlight the importance of research and patient programs.
blood pressure cuff on mans arm with white coat doctor taking it
Health Lab
Blood pressure high for years? Beware of stroke risk
A study led by Michigan Medicine narrows in on the cumulative effects of years of high systolic blood pressure — the top number on the blood pressure reading and how hard the heart pumps blood to the arteries — finding that a higher average reading during adulthood is linked with a greater risk for the two most common types of stroke.
bottle cap red
Health Lab
Bipolar disorder and alcohol: It’s not as simple as 'self-medication'
People with bipolar disorder have a high risk of alcohol use issues, which have been seen as “self medication,” but a study shows that changes in drinking predict worse symptoms.
Hernandez
Department News
The Department of Pharmacology welcomes Dr. Ciria Quintero Hernandez!
The Department of Pharmacology welcomes Dr. Ciria Quintero Hernandez!
Left to right: Surbhi Gupta (University of Michigan), Laura Mike (University of Pittsburgh), Harry Mobley (University of Michigan), Melanie Pearson (University of Michigan), Chelsie Armbruster (SUNY Buffalo), and Allyson Shea (University of South Alabama)
Department News
Harry Mobley receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Urinary Tract Infection Global Alliance (UTIGA)
Harry Mobley receives the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 5th Clinical and Scientific Advances in Urinary Tract Infections held July 19-21 in Columbus, Ohio
Headshots of two new Genetics Training Program members
Department News
Graduate students Ross Kaufhold and Ben Pockrass chosen for training program positions
Two Biological Chemistry graduate students receive positions in the Genetics Training Program for the 2024–2025 academic year.