McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Viva La Health Sci: Student-run musical shines spotlight on program

By Laura Thompson
Published: March 13, 2009
Bachelor of Health Sciences musical
Students in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program rehearse Viva La Virus, a new musical written, directed and performed by the McMaster University students.

Lily is a health sciences student stuck in the middle of a love triangle. She can’t seem to choose between Rosco, an ambitious medical student, and her sweet-tempered classmate, Jim.

It may sound like a typical 20-something love story, but inject some singing, dancing and a virus that renders people without a sense of rhythm and what you get is Viva La Virus, a new musical written, directed and performed by students in the Bachelor of Health Sciences (B.H.Sc.) program at McMaster University.

Started last year as part of a final-year course on collaboration and peer tutoring, the health sciences musical has become into a way for students to give back to the community while embracing their interests in the arts.

"It’s about peer involvement, building communication skills, building teamwork skills, being involved in the community – not just the McMaster community, but the Hamilton community at large," said Tiffany Parsons, a fourth-year Bachelor of Health Sciences student who plays the female lead, Lily.

After the success of last year, the students decided to transform the musical into an annual event. This year,  there will be two performances at Dalewood Public School on March 20 and 21 at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

The all-ages show involves approximately 60 health sciences students taking on a variety of centre-stage and backstage roles. The show also features a 25-piece orchestra that will perform two original pieces of music as well as many popular songs that have been adapted with a health science spin.

"We tried to make it funny, but also get away from all the health science stereotypes," said director Dorina Kirilova, a fourth-year B.H.Sc. student who attended an arts high school in Etobicoke before coming to McMaster.

Parsons, a trained vocalist who is providing coaching for other cast members, said she also hopes to shine a new light on what it means to be a student in her program.

"There is this stereotype that people in science are researchers, physicians or nurses, or they go into a professional program. And that’s not always the case," she said. "Many of us choose the arts. Many of us want to go into other things – teaching, law, or things that are more creative.

"The musical allows us to show that we’re not just typical science students. That we really are people who can do more than that."

The money raised from ticket sales will support two initiatives – the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) Program Scholarship and the Hamilton-based Theatre of Liberation Community Project, a non-profit group that brings the theatre arts to young people as a way of fostering awareness of social justice issues.

The B.H.Sc. scholarship, established in 2004 by the inaugural graduating class, is currently in development and will support students in the program who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and who have made volunteer contributions within the Hamilton and McMaster communities.

Del Harnish, assistant dean of the B.H.Sc. program, said the musical is one of many community initiatives in which the students participate.

"It’s an opportunity for the students to work together collaboratively," he said. "It’s not graded the same way as a traditional course. It’s something they love to do. And it allows them to be imaginative and explore that side of things without any risk."

For advanced tickets to Viva La Virus, please contact Dorina Kirilova or Tiffany Parsons.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Level Double-A conformance, W3C WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0