“It’s raining meds!” Sisi Zheng (5th year MD-PhD), belted out to the tune of It’s Raining Men, joined on-stage by fellow students throwing handfuls of big, colorful, marshmallow “pills” to a highly-engaged audience in Mary S. Harkness Auditorium. This was one of many highlights of the Yale School of Medicine (YSM) Class of 2023’s Fourth Year Show: Eli Yale and the Residents of the (Morning) Rounds Table. The production continued a tradition started by the YSM Class of 1949 — creating a student-led original musical that pokes fun at the medical school, its leadership and faculty, and the lives of its medical students.
Harry Newman-Plotnick (MD ‘23) wrote and directed the show, in close partnership with May Shum (MD ’23) as producer. Although a funny “making of the show” film clip shown after intermission suggested that the cast had tried to upend the script days before the March 31 and April 1 performances, the successful production showcased Newman-Plotnick’s and Shum’s strong, creative leadership.
The once and future healer
The show was set in the 1300s in “Olde Haven,” with Eli (pronounced Ellie) Yale (Aishwarya Pillai, MD ‘23) studying at the Yale School of Bloodletting, Leeching & Rheumatology. Eli pulls the Rod of Asclepius from a stone that no one has been able to remove for ages, leading Professor Angoff (Anna Preston, MD ‘23) to reveal Eli’s destiny as “the once and future healer,” in a play on the classic Arthurian legend. Eli must find and train with the fabled Doctor of Yale, Thilan Wijesekera (Fola Laditi, MD ‘23), within the caves atop East Rock.
While Eli is away, the TikTok Syndrome Pandemic hits Olde Haven. The King’s Messenger (Lenique Huggins, MD ‘26), rides in on a stick horse accompanied by the sounds of clacking coconuts. With stellar singing and dancing, she mock battles Eli’s loyal friend and fellow student, Quinn I. Piac (Adriana Purcell, MD ‘26), in an adaptation of Anything Goes, telling the townspeople to carry on as usual — a clear play on the politics around COVID-19. Quinn decides that she must travel to the top of East Rock and inform Eli that she must return to convince the townfolk to follow the science regarding the TikTok Syndrome.
On their way home, Eli and Quinn sing a heart-warming, Yale-themed version of Take Me Home, Country Roads, during which the entire audience sang along on Saturday night. Unfortunately, mirroring real world reactions to certain medical suggestions, upon her return, Eli is almost burned at the stake for attempting to change the behaviors of her fellow townsfolk. Yet, in the end, the story turns towards optimism as Eli and her fellow students express their commitment to traveling far and wide to help the people of Olde Haven and the Land of Connecticut. The show concludes with the graduation ceremony of the Yale School of Bloodletting, Leeching & Rheumatology, as the whole company performs the aptly named Thousands of Loans—adapted from Seasons of Love from the musical Rent.
Follow the Yale Brick Road
Some of the evening’s biggest laughs came from Sarah Fitzpatrick’s (5th year MD-PhD) portrayal of “Ruler Brown,” dressed in a suit and pearls, with a short blond wig, addressing the students with a professional, intense demeanor. (YSM Dean Nancy J. Brown, MD was among those laughing.) Laughter erupted as a pre-recorded video played of over a dozen YSM faculty and deans sportingly singing a revised version of Follow the Yellow Brick Road, with “Yale” substituting for “Yellow.” Jack Tang’s (MD ‘23) portrayal of Professor Auguste Fortin VI, leading his students in a rendition of Our Medical Cures to the tune of both My Favorite Things and 7 Rings, was another highlight, as was a hilarious pre-taped “advertisement” for the Yale system, modeled after typical pharmaceutical ads.
The show’s clever, wonderful singing and acting were bolstered by a powerful student orchestra (directed by Chinye Ijeli, MD ‘24) and creative and mobile sets (designed by Mursal Gardezi, MD ‘23), in addition to dancing (choreographed by Rhys Richmond, MD ‘26), costumes (Kriza Sy, MD ‘26), and props (Maham Ahmad, MD ‘23) that made for an enchanting evening at the theater.
When asked about his experience writing and directing the show, Newman-Plotnick quipped, “I certainly have much more appreciation for all of the directors I’ve worked with in the past.”