Each December, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine students swap their white coats and scrubs for costumes and dance shoes to bring Doc Opera, a variety show that allows medical students to flex their creative muscles, to life.
In its 39th year, the event positively impacts the Cleveland community by raising funds for the Student Run Health Clinic (SRHC). With approximately 200 students from CWRU’s university program, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and the Medical Scientist Training Program taking part, Doc Opera requires intensive planning and teams of volunteers working throughout the year.
This year’s show, Medically Blonde!, which debuts Dec. 16, takes inspiration from the movie and musical Legally Blonde. Students are encouraged to submit theme ideas throughout the year and vote on it in the spring. Student directors are often chosen as early as January and practices begin in the fall.
As in years prior, this year’s show will be due in part to the hard work of many students. We spoke with several of them to learn more about their experiences.
Production director Joshua Wiener, who studied theater and biological sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, is overseeing the entire show this year and supporting the other directors.
“I thought I wouldn’t be able to access (theater) again, but Doc Opera has given me an opportunity to continue with something I truly love,” said Wiener. “Plus, it’s all for an important cause.”
Maia Van Buskirk
“I’ve been involved with theater since I was 5 years old,” said Van Buskirk. “I remember hearing about Doc Opera during my interview and immediately knew if I ended up at CWRU, I would be part of Doc Opera!”
Loria is one of two vocal directors. Loria, along with Fiona Fragomen, manage individual song directors and song lyrics and harmonies for Medically Blonde! He sang in an a cappella group while earning a bachelor’s degree in human sciences at Georgetown University.
“It was something I missed coming into medical school, “ said Loria. “I chose to get involved with Doc Opera to keep up with this passion of mine!”
Yulia Haraguchi, Marc Hill and Hailey Seibert
Yulia Haraguchi, Marc Hill and Hailey Seibert are managing the choreography, dances and blocking of Doc Opera.
“The biggest reason I decided to become a dance director really stems from seeing other students have an amazing time trying out dance for the first time, “ said Hill. “And it also gives seasoned dancers an outlet during medical school to be back on stage, all while raising money for the SRHC!”
Henry Herrera is one of four band directors. Along with Eva Bambakidis, Isak Bowron and Nick Ogrinc, Herrera manages all of the music arrangements and runs band rehearsals. He played drums, bass and auxiliary percussion in last year’s show.
“I was hooked after our first rehearsal,” said Herrera. “It had been so long since I performed with other musicians and I was so excited to get back into it, especially during medical school.”
Emily Peng, who danced in last year’s show, is managing all financial aspects of the production, including ticket sales, donations and the silent auction.
“The arts have always been a huge part of my life,” said Peng. “I could always rely on the arts for stress relief, and coming into medical school, I knew I had to find an outlet to maintain my mental health.”
Doc Opera: Medically Blonde! will take place Saturday, Dec. 16, at John Hay High School Auditorium. The silent auction starts at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Live streaming will be available for those unable to attend in person. Grab your tickets and learn more about the show.