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Musical from Braden River High alum to make local debut

After a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Gabriel McDerment is bringing his musical, “Acceptance Pending,” on tour in the U.S.

The cast of "Acceptance Pending" performs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Aug. 27-28, 2023.
The cast of "Acceptance Pending" performs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Aug. 27-28, 2023.
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After a successful run of his musical at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, East County’s Gabriel McDerment is bringing his musical home.

McDerment, a 2021 Braden River High graduate, had his musical, “Acceptance Pending,” performed eight times at the festival in August as part of the festival’s student program.

“Acceptance Pending” follows Andrea, a high school senior dreaming of attending an Ivy League school, as she works through the pressure of applying for college, waiting for results and the emotions that come with rejection. 

McDerment used personal experiences to develop his characters for this musical that addresses the mental health and emotional wellbeing of college-bound students. 

Members of Rotary International, which has initiatives focused on mental health in students, heard of his musical and wanted to support McDerment. With its help, McDerment is kicking off a U.S. tour of “Acceptance Pending” starting with a performance in Naples Jan. 11 and a performance in Bradenton on Jan. 12.

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McDerment said performances throughout the northeast from as far north as Boston to as far south as Washington D.C. are being scheduled. 

“We’re going to go as far as we can, do as many shows as we can and hopefully welcome as many people as we can to the experience that’s meant so much to me this whole time,” he said. 

McDerment said Rotary International approaching him about starting a tour blew his mind and was humbling. 

McDerment, a junior at New York University, said having his show performed in the U.S. was a goal from the moment he started creating it as a freshman at the university. 

Having his musical performed in his hometown at 7 p.m. Jan. 12 at RiverLife Church is a homecoming for McDerment. 

“I’ve performed a lot in this area,” he said. “It’s going to be this weird, full circle moment to be able to bring something I worked to develop mostly in New York and performed in Edinburgh and now mounting a tour in Naples. It’s a cool experience to be able to bring it home.”

Performing the musical in front of his friends, family and neighbors will be terrifying because of the artistic vulnerability that comes with sharing his work with people he knows. 

“This is probably the most supportive audience I’m ever going to have, and it’s probably the most personal show we’re going to have because of all the people that know my experience and the emotion behind the show,” McDerment said. “It’s going to be probably one of the rawest show for me but also in several ways the most heartfelt and the one I’ll be most grateful to have done with it comes to the end.”

East County's Gabriel McDerment has been working on his musical, "Acceptance Pending," since he was a freshman at New York University, where he is now a junior.
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Although McDerment is grateful for his experiences in having his musical performed in Edinburgh, he said he was worried about the audience’s reception as college admissions isn’t as competitive and stressful in Europe as it is in the U.S. He learned after the preview of the show that a short explanation had to be given before each performance so people understood how different the process is in the U.S. 

“We needed the audience to realize this isn’t necessarily satire, that we’re not blowing things out of proportion for dramatic effect,” he said. “This is exactly what college students go through.”

Now in the U.S. where many students like McDerment understand what it’s like to be applying to universities and the pressures that come with it, he looks forward to seeing how “Acceptance Pending” will resonate with the audience. 

He’s also interested to see how his relationship and perception of his own characters change as the musical is performed in Florida and other states. 

The musical will be expanded in the U.S. compared to the 40-minute show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. McDerment said this will give him the chance to dive deeper into the plot and characters.



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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