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Playing with Words

Greg Schaber

Chuck Sambuchino didn’t come to the University to be a playwright. But through a happy series of events, the 2003 graduate has now churned out 17 plays, one of which he recently adapted into a musical for writer/director/composer and Xavier alumnus John Grissmer.

As a junior at the University, Sambuchino wrote a short script for a film class and, with encouragement from the instructor, submitted it for the Xavier Players’ annual workshop festival of one-act plays. The play—“A Mime is a Terrible Thing to Waste”—was accepted and produced, and Sambuchino was hooked. Over the next three years, including one year of graduate school, the fledgling playwright had seven plays produced at Xavier.

But it was a play called “Heaven, Please Hold,” written during his senior year that brought Sambuchino into Grissmer’s sphere. Sambuchino asked Cathy Springfield, the University’s director for performing arts, to review the work. Springfield, in turn, passed it to Grissmer, who called Sambuchino with suggestions. Their mentoring relationship grew, and Grissmer eventually asked Sambuchino to revamp the piece on a write-for-hire basis. Sambuchino agreed and, incorporating Grissmer’s ideas, completed his part of the work last December. Grissmer is now composing music to complete the transformation. “Whenever he gets done, he’ll start pitching it to places,” Sambuchino says. “It’s kind of inspiring that this started as just an idea at Xavier, then Xavier took it to the next level, and now through a Xavier alum we’re taking it to the next level.”

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