By Theresa Gawlas Medoff '85, P'13

The smile on Joe Gaughan's face was as big as a child's on Christmas. After five years of working on his holiday-themed musical "Santa's Last Christmas," he finally got to hear his work-in-progress read by 16 actors from the student group Cap and Dagger. The Bucknell facilities employee maintains several University student affinity houses, including Hulley House, where Cap and Dagger students live.

"I am overwhelmed and overjoyed and ecstatic," Gaughan said after the reading. "There's a line in a song by the band Yes that popped into my head, 'I must have waited all my life for this moment.'"

The "moment" came fairly early in the spring semester when Hulley House resident Matt Dranzik '13 learned about the musical, a project that Gaughan had worked on with collaborators: the late Ed Rhoades, a local musician and artist, and his daughter, Heather Rhoades. Although this was Gaughan's first attempt at a musical, he has been composing songs for many years. He also plays keyboards in the faculty-staff band Bucky's Boys, which entertains at University events, such as the annual staff picnic.

"Joe and I had bonded last year over our shared love of music and our experience of being Mummers in the annual Philadelphia parade," Dranzik said. "When I found out about his musical, I thought 'He's such a wonderful guy and he does so much for the house, wouldn't it be great if we had a reading for him.'"

The reading took place Feb. 28 in the Harvey Powers Theatre before an audience of students, Bucknell employees and Gaughan's family and friends.

"A play is not something that stays on the page, so it's important for a playwright to hear the work read aloud by actors," said Katrina Medoff '13, co-president and co-treasurer of Cap and Dagger and a Hulley House resident. "With Cap and Dagger, students and professors are always integrated. This reading gave us the opportunity to integrate staff, too."

photo by Xiaolong Li '14