Smac 1

c/o Kyra Kushner and Liv Rubenstein

For three nights, audiences of “Satirical Musical About College: Farewell to Butts D” (S.M.A.C.) got transported to a different Wesleyan that looked an awful lot like our own. The show, co-directed by Henry Owens ’25 and Sophia Flynn ’25, told the story of a rag-tag group of students including a nepotism baby, two frat bros, a not-like-other-film-majors film major, an embittered writer for The Argus, and an ensemble of assorted characters inspired by Wesleyan student archetypes. Through the show’s two-hour runtime, we see this group involved in arson, a coup, romance, drama, and above all, ridiculous comedy.

The show introduces us to Meg Ohio-Wesleyan (Maggie Monaghan ’24), daughter of University President Wes Wesleyan (Quincy Segal ’26). Meg is on a quest to get expelled because her father won’t let her drop out, and in her journey, she recruits film major Mike Bray (Charlie Pedorella ’24) to help her cause a cataclysm. They’re joined by the nascent fraternity Beta Males, founded by Will Clements-Wyndorf (Matt Nusbaum ’25) and his gleeful sidekick Trip (Stuart Conrad ’26), as well as embittered writer for The Argus Esther Adams (Abrielle Belisle ’25).

After Esther sets the building on fire during a Beta party, the gang decides to protest the existence of the Wesleyan fire code in order to save themselves from disciplinary points. However, this protest leads to the burning of Butterfield D. After recording Meg’s confession, in which she takes full responsibility for the fire, Esther uses this as blackmail, leveraging Wes Wesleyan to make her the new She-E-O of the school. While Esther is instituting her controversial reforms, Meg and Mike are slowly falling in love, backdropping the over-the-top coup storyline with a dramatic romance arc. 

As the show concluded on Saturday, April 22, the performance—which took place in the Butterfields courtyard (the Butthole)—was drenched in torrential rain.


c/o Kyra Kushner and Liv Rubenstein

“The whole time, the sky was kind of flirting with rain…but in the final scene, the sky just opened and rained like I’ve never seen rain before,” one of the show’s writers Nora Jacobsen ’25 said. “Most of the audience stayed, and it was just kind of a magical thing. And whenever Abrielle…would come and do a song, the sky would just start thundering and stop when she was done with her song. It was really awesome because she was this evil character. It was kind of magical.”

The idea for S.M.A.C. came to Owens over a year ago when the student theater organization Spike Tape was still in its infancy. As the group’s first production, the student-written play “Inheritance,” began to wind down, Owens started jotting down different thoughts he had about his own potential student-written show.

“I wrote down a bunch of silly ideas, and one of them…was a satirical musical about Wesleyan, loosely based on the idea of the varsity show that Columbia does every year,” Owens said. “They’ve been doing a satirical musical about their school for over 100 years. So I was like, ‘Wes is a ridiculous institution, there is plenty to make fun of here, and plenty of talented people capable of doing that.’”

From there, the process of getting the project on its feet began. After a brainstorming session, writers were brought on in Fall 2022 to make this loose idea into a reality. The script-writing team consisted of Jacob Silberman-Baron ’25, Cecilia Dondorful-Amos ’25, and Jacobsen, alongside Flynn who served as story consultant and stage manager in addition to being co-director. Jacobsen, though not initially part of the project, joined after the writing process had already begun.

“I was just eating dinner with Sophia, and then I saw Jacob and he was like, ‘Oh, come join us!’” Jacobsen said. “And then they were both going to S.M.A.C., so I was like I want to come, too. And then I invited myself and…never left!”

The writers noted that the script-writing process involved a lot of trial and error. Sometimes, the best way to fight writer’s block for this team was to just trust each other and lean into the ridiculousness.


c/o Kyra Kushner and Liv Rubenstein

“There was this one day, we were just getting nowhere, like we sat around for an hour and had done nothing,” Silberman-Baron said. “We were trying to write the love scene, and we were doing improv and it wasn’t working, and eventually Nora just came up with: ‘Hillary Clinton! He is attracted to Hillary.’ At the time, I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m not really sure about this idea’. But I figured it was something, and Nora was into it. So we did that.”

When the music team—made up of Lincoln Turner ’25, Theo Businger ’25, Asa Schiller ’25, Sarah Linsly ’24, and Noa Yassky ’25—got their hands on the idea, they produced a beautiful ballad between lead character Meg and her love interest, the aforementioned film bro Mike, during which Mike professes his love to Meg by comparing her to the former first lady. 

“Just like Bill to Hillary, minus Monica Lewinsky,” Mike crooned.

Yet not everything came as easily. While some songs were simple to ideate and put to paper, others had more complex goals that were hard to put into lyrics.

“We started out with the songs that seemed to want to write themselves, [and] for me, that was ‘Fire Code’s Gotta Die,’” Schiller wrote in an email to The Argus. “But eventually I had to work on songs that were harder to get…into. I struggled to write the opener ‘Welcome to Welseyan’ because it acted as a character introduction for a lot of the main characters. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to represent the characters that the writers had initially conceived in a way that was truthful to their vision and also punchy and musical at the same time.”

Linsly echoed this sentiment, noting that every time the script writers made a change to the dialogue, the musical team would have to go back and reflect the same change in the music.

“I saw S.M.A.C. in its earliest stages and in its final stage and let me tell you, it is QUITE different (for the better of course)!” Linsly wrote in an email to The Argus. “It was hard that the script kept changing sometimes because it meant that songs had to change too. You have to think of the world of the show, the character who is singing the line, the plot points that need to be conveyed, and the musical structure all over again…and then you need to make sure that all of that rhymes.”

With all this, the team was still able to produce catchy and hilarious music that had the audience bopping along in their seats. One such song was “Girlboss,” Esther’s villainous number during which the aforementioned thunder rumbled across the Butthole.

“Sarah Linsly and I wrote that together,” Turner said. “And so it’s so serendipitous because that was the first one we wrote, and we wrote it in like 30 minutes, it came together like that. And I just remember also seeing it opening night and seeing Abrielle sing it…was such a surreal thing of like, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s singing my music, this is crazy!’”

With Linsly seeing the show through from beginning to end on the musical side, Flynn did the same for the script. Flynn started the process as simply the show’s stage manager, but over time ended up taking on more behind-the-scenes roles.

“Basically, Jacob and Nora and Cecilia would write scenes, and then if they were having a problem, they would call me and I would come in and be like, ‘You need to streamline this,’ or, ‘You need to fix this,’” Flynn said. “I was on as the stage manager in the beginning, I just really liked Jacob and Cecilia and Nora, so I helped them, and then ended up having a useful job. But then I was [also] on as the stage manager, and me and Henry had talked before we went into the rehearsal phase of the production where I was like…‘I’m going to call the show, I’ll be the stage manager, but I also want to have creative input.’”

Another major part of what made the show such a smash hit was the chemistry between the cast members. 

“[This was] one of the best casts I’ve ever been in, just such a good group of friends,” Segal said. “Now obviously, when you’re in high school you’re in the same cast more or less throughout the entire experience, but here at Wesleyan, there’s general theater people, but there’s so many and whatever cast you’re a part of is completely different. And through this process, I met a bunch of new and awesome people that I’ve become really, really great friends with.”


c/o Kyra Kushner and Liv Rubenstein

Owens echoed the importance of the greater group in making this show magical, not just among the cast but also the crew, writers, producers, and everyone who was remotely involved in the show.

“I cannot emphasize enough how many different people worked on this, like the actual team of designers and actors and writers and like production staff,” Owens said. “And then also all the people who tangentially supported us, like people who lent us cars to move stuff, people who let us check out equipment, people from the school who just helped us, logistics people. There was just so much support that made this happen, and it was such a collaborative endeavor. And I’m just so grateful to every single person who lent their time and energy and passion to the project.”

Though the show just wrapped up two weeks ago, some members of the production team are already looking to expand S.M.A.C. Universe (SMU) with S.M.A.C. 2.0. The musical’s playbill included a section at the bottom inviting audience members to fill out a Google form and be looped into the planning for the sequel.

“I’m trying to do it again,” Silberman-Baron said. “I think it’ll be hard to do again, though. ’Cause for me, the thing that made it so magical is that everyone involved really loved it, and that’s not really something you can create artificially. You just need to find people and have good ideas that people get excited about. But I hope we can do it again. And I hope I can find a writing partner that’s as funny as Nora.”

Regardless of whether S.M.A.C. 2.0 ever comes to be, the show will likely remain in the cultural memory of Wesleyan, both as a ridiculous commentary on our school and a scathing rebuke of campus fire safety.

“I actually have no personal beef with the fire code,” Flynn said. “You can quote me on that.”


Sam Hilton can be reached at

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