CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misidentified a prop used in the show.

A kickline, a love song, a villain monologue and a cardboard cutout of Derek Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy — these were all elements in “Sleeping Beauty,” a student-written reimagining of the classic fairy tale. NewWorks, a student organization that produces original student works, hosted three showings of a workshop production through April 20 and 21. 

“Sleeping Beauty” was the first musical NewWorks has produced, written by Elon senior and acting major Graham Cole. The workshop production took place in the Center for the Arts Isabella Cannon Room with a full run of the first act and a short collection of scenes and songs from act two. 

With a cast and creative team of 18 students, Cole said his favorite part of the process was the group’s first day in the rehearsal room. The cast sat down in a circle doing a read through of the show. Cole said it was exciting to hear other people interact with his work.

“I don't think anything has made me happier than being able to hear other people singing my songs,” Cole said.

Students perform in a workshop production of “Sleeping Beauty” in the Center for the Arts Isabella Canon Room. "Sleeping Beauty" was NewWorks first musical production, written by senior Graham Cole. Photo courtesy of NewWorks.

Cole said he got the idea for the show in 2019 — yet he didn’t begin actively developing it until 2021. In his version, Cole said he focused on giving the characters agency. 

“I wanted to make sure that all the characters were active players in the story and had control over what happens to them, what happens to their story,” Cole said.

The show's themes of feeling trapped and confined, Cole said, were partially inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. 

“That's something I think a lot of people felt during COVID. It’s something I felt before that and that was heightened during COVID,” Cole said. “In a lot of ways, this is sort of an expression of that feeling trapped, and then the breaking out of that.”

Despite these themes, Cole said he didn’t want the show to feel heavy. The sense of humor and light-hearted narration weave the show together. 

“A lot of the time, especially in university theater, we get caught up on trying to tell serious stories with serious themes,” Cole said. “Don't get me wrong, I am trying to tell serious themes. But the way that I am choosing to do that, for this show at least, is just by trying to have a good time.”