“On the Line” Inspires Hope

From+left+to+right%3A+Zach+Zalis%2C+Matt+Schumacher%2C+Mary+Hurstell+and+Hillary+Bosch+peform+in+%E2%80%9COn+the+Line%E2%80%9D+at+the+Collins+Blackbox.+%28Courtesy+of+Chris+Merola%29
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“On the Line” Inspires Hope

From left to right: Zach Zalis, Matt Schumacher, Mary Hurstell and Hillary Bosch peform in “On the Line” at the Collins Blackbox. (Courtesy of Chris Merola)

From left to right: Zach Zalis, Matt Schumacher, Mary Hurstell and Hillary Bosch peform in “On the Line” at the Collins Blackbox. (Courtesy of Chris Merola)

From left to right: Zach Zalis, Matt Schumacher, Mary Hurstell and Hillary Bosch peform in “On the Line” at the Collins Blackbox. (Courtesy of Chris Merola)

From left to right: Zach Zalis, Matt Schumacher, Mary Hurstell and Hillary Bosch peform in “On the Line” at the Collins Blackbox. (Courtesy of Chris Merola)


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By Shelby Daniel

Simon Godfrey Rodriguez, GSB ’20, spent about a year creating the story and writing the script for “On the Line.”

He enlisted co-creator Charlotte Utschig, FCRH ’21, to compose the score for the full length musical, and in the process they created a stunning display of compassion and struggle.

At its heart, “On the Line,” performed in the Collins Blackbox from Oct. 4–7, is a story about mental health and the difficulties that come with it.

The popularity of musicals like “Dear Evan Hansen” shows that it is not unheard of to use the artistic medium as a venue to discuss mental health.

However, this is the first time I have seen a theatre production explore the struggles of mental health from the perspective of the helper.

At the center of the plot is Annaliese (Mary Hurstell, FCRH ’21), a bright-eyed recent college graduate filled with dreams of making the world a better place.

Her dreams are slightly deterred when her new job at a suicide prevention hotline is not exactly what she expected it to be. Fletcher (Zach Zalis, FCRH ’19) and Barbara (Hillary Bosch, FCRH ’19) are two long term employees of the hotline.

Fletcher is a paternal figure, and Barbara a cynic who reminds Annaliese of the reality of their job.

The group is rounded out with the center’s IT guy, Cole (Matt Schumacher, FCRH ’20) and police force liaison, Marley (Abbey Delk, FCRH ’22).

“On the Line” explores the lives of these characters, who all take different approaches to their jobs as helpers.

When Annaliese is first confronted with the heavy reality of her new job, all of the characters come together in a way to remind the audience that hope can always come to those who need it, no matter what struggles you are going through.

In the process of telling the story of the helpers, though, the show never forgets or plays down the struggles of those who call the helpline.

In its essence, the musical showcases the relationship between the callers and the helpers in a raw and powerful way, but one that never feels too overwhelming.

Moments of comedic relief did not seemed forced, and made the show all the more realistic. These moments served as a reminder that conversations surrounding mental health do not always have to be heavy.

These conversations can happen in moments of happiness and joy.

“On the Line” is an exceptional display of student creativity and empathy.

The heart and soul that everyone involved with the show poured into its creation is seen in every song, movement and conversation.

Audience members poured out of the Blackbox after the final curtain call, many clutching tissues.

As I left, I did not just hear congratulations to the creators and actors. I heard thank you after thank you.

Therefore, I end my review with something for everyone involved with the show: thank you for reminding us that we can discover hope.

If you are struggling, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day and can be reached at (1-800)273-8255.

Here at Fordham, there are also confidential services available from Counseling and Psychological Services located in the basement of O’Hare next to the health center. Call (718) 817-3725 to set up an appointment.

From left to right: Zach Zalis, Matt Schumacher, Mary Hurstell and Hillary Bosch peform in “On the Line” at the Collins Blackbox. (Courtesy of Chris Merola)