hope for ‘scope

Student created musical based on life, cancer experience


Charlie Trent, Editor-In-Chief

Once students reach high school, most choose to focus on one specific hobby or extracurricular activity. However, junior Ryan Jacobs decided to go against this norm and pursue many of his passions — singing, composing and performing music.

“I wanted to be involved in all the parts of music that I love,” Jacobs said. “It made me upset that I had to choose because I loved all of it the same.”

Jacobs noted that his love for music began from being surrounded by it at a young age.

“My mom is a piano teacher,” Jacobs said. “I also have three older brothers who all learned the piano from her and were involved in different types of music, like marching band and choir.”

After being involved in choir, band and theater in middle school, Jacobs said he wanted to combine all of his musical passions into composing music himself.

“It’s my way of being able to continue all the different types of music, by writing it,” Jacobs said. “If I write music, I can write whatever type of music I want.”

Jacobs said he was inspired to use his composing abilities to write a musical with his friend Dominic DeCicco, a junior at Blue Valley Southwest.

“He’s one of my good friends and we had the idea to write a musical together for a really long time,” Jacobs said.

However, Jacobs decided to base the plot for the musical on his family’s personal experiences coping with childhood cancer.

“When I was 5 months old, I was diagnosed with leukemia,” Jacobs said. “Then I was going to a check in a couple weeks later, and I relapsed.”

       Jacobs said after six months, he was given a bone marrow transplant and was able to make a full recovery.

“That’s been my story for so long,” he said. “[I always] knew I wanted to create something from [that].”

After getting the inspiration to create the musical, Jacobs said he wrote the music gradually over a two-year period before ever writing the lyrics.

“That’s different than most musical theater people because musical theater is so much about the lyrics,” he said. “That’s what tells the story. But we never really sat down to actually start a grind of writing it or have anything to initiate working really, really hard on it. We got ideas as it went and worked with it.”

Jacobs said the concept of the musical was to focus on the story of the patient’s parents, not on the patients themselves.

“The show centers around two families, and it all takes place in a hallway,” Jacobs said. “You don’t meet the kids. You don’t meet the doctors or nurses. It’s focusing on the emotions of the whole situation. You see people leave the room, and they start processing what just happened inside of the room.”

Jacobs described the multiple meanings behind the name of the original musical, “‘Scope.”

“The title comes from the term ‘dyscopia’,” Jacobs said. “It means the inability to cope, and that’s what we focus on. Another one of the definitions of ‘Scope’ is the possibility or opportunity of doing something and having hope. The whole show is based off both of those.”

Jacobs submitted the show in a contest called “Musical Works.”

“It’s called the International Thespian Festival,” he said. “You enter in original musicals that are 20 minutes long. They pick two of them and then workshop them at internationals.”

A song from the musical, named “Still”, was also entered into another contest hosted by broadway star Taylor Louderman.

“She has a song writing competition,” Jacobs said. “If [the song] gets chosen, she sings it and we get to record at a studio called Ghostlight Records.”

As far as casting his musical, Jacobs chose to include his peers from around the Kansas City area.

“It’s all of our friends,” Jacobs said. “It was all people we reached out to. We have a lot of really, really talented friends from shows we’ve done. We knew that was going to be the best way.”

Jacobs said they plan to perform at hospitals around the KC area, and after that, the next step for the musical is to gain support from producers and develop the show into a full production.

“Our goal is just to get this to as many people as we can and spread awareness,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said throughout the experience, he grew in many ways.

“It was a really big challenge, but it’s something I’ll never forget because of the collaboration aspect,” Jacobs said. “That process is such a different beast, and I learned so much about how to create something with somebody else.”

Jacobs hopes those who have the opportunity to see or listen to “Scope” realize the message behind his story.

“It’s about understanding the dynamics between the struggling families and all the emotions going on,” Jacobs said. “I wanted to make sure the audience understood the emotions behind the families and what they’re going through.”