April 17, 2009
Students perform comedy"Small town life meets larger than life personalities," director Doug Powers said of the theatre department's final production for the year, "The Man Who Came to Dinner."
"I wanted something light, fun and accessible to a wide audience," Powers said. "It has been a while since the department has done a comedy, and this is an American classic. I think this may be one of the best productions the department has put together."
According to the Web site dramatists.com, the three-act comedy by Geroge S. Kaufman and Moss Hart centers around an irascible radio personality, Sher-idan Whiteside. In the play, Whiteside spends six weeks confined to the home of modest family after slipping on their porch and breaking his hip.
The play is set in the small town of Mesalia, Ohio, around Christmastime in the 1930s.
"[Whiteside has] to find a way to gain control of the house and everyone in it in order to keep power," explained senior Mat-thew Prince, who plays Sheridan. "Along the way, I am visited by many of my celebrity friends as I work a plan to keep my secretary from running off with a local newspaper man."
Senior Julie Ek plays Sher-idan's secretary, Maggie Cutler.
"Maggie Cutler is sassy and witty. She has a very good sense of humor and can find humor in many things. She's very outgoing and is not afraid to give her input or share her feelings about anything," Ek said.
"Her major conflict begins when she decides to announce to Sherry that she has fallen in love with Bert, a Mesalia town journalist. This would not become a conflict if Sherry handled it well-- instead Sherry tries to convince her that she is out of her mind, that she is not in love and that he wants to get out of Mesalia and break off her little love affair," she added.
Prince, Ek and Powers raved about the play's hilarity, noting that the text itself lends itself to humor and interpretation.
Ek said: "I take great pride in our productions because of how in-depth they go. We take every aspect of every play we work with into consideration. All of the students within the theatre department are a team, and it takes each and every one of us to create something inspiring."
Comedies do not typically make it to the Degenstein stage.
This spring's performance and last year's "The Import-ance of Being Earnest" are the only two that have performed in the past four years.
"'Fiddler on the Roof"--the fall production--had its funny mo-ments; however, it is a very deep show," Ek said.
"It is much easier to have fun when rehearsing for a comedy because as actors, we thrive in audience response. It is nice to hear fellow actors watching re-hearsals and laughing at us," she added.
No matter the genre, however, Powers almost always incorporates an additional twist to the department's productions.
Most recently, a production of "Richard III" was set in Civil War New Orleans and "The Impor-tance of Being Earnest" sported a gender-reversed cast.
With "The Man Who Came to Dinner," Prince said Powers has again shaken the story to create a new interpretation.
"Aside from the actual play being funny to read, Dr. Powers has managed to heighten the comedy by putting his own personal spin on the play," said Prince. "One thing you always know is that our productions are unique and visionary. This play relies on style and playing things bigger than reality."
Despite the laughter, there is still a message to be gained behind the play.
"This play has real heart. It teaches us that beneath all of our personal selfishness and ego, we all need to rely on those that we love to help us get through life," Prince said.
"The Man Who Came to Dinner" will be performed in Degenstein Theater from April 23 to April 26. Tickets are free for Susquehanna students, $8 for non-Susquehanna students and $10 for adults.
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