Theatrical Debuts

MiMi Yeh


Once again, the fall semester is upon us. Although it promises to be busy and hectic with the coming holidays, this hasn’t deterred the Performing Arts Department from putting out three productions and a student-run theatre festival. Whether it is adult-oriented children’s tales or another energizing performance from the dance students, this semester will not be dull.

The first play to be put on, Cinderella Waltz by Don Nigro, is a merger of two popular fairytales, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and, of course, Cinderella, itself. Dreams and illusions are fragile and, as we learn in this script, they don’t often stand up to reality.

Meet Cinderella, a.k.a. Rosey Snow. Left motherless at the age of four, Rosey only has dreams of her mother. Rosey was too young to remember what she was like, yet she often pines for the happier days she imagines that she had with her mother.

Enter Mr. Snow, Rosey’s father who is perpetually in search of his pants. He is no help to her against the second Mrs. Snow, her stepmother. Goneril and Regan, her stepsisters, are not bad, just cowed by the force of their mother’s neurotic personality.

Through village idiots, trolls, and weak-willed princes, we learn from notes that “what began as a Cinderella story turns out to have been, all along, actually a version of Beauty and the Beast. The playwright is the idiot. The play is the mechanism. The performance is the dance.”

Indeed, it is a complex fairytale where the characters are neither perfect or perfidious, they are flawed human beings fumbling their way through life like the rest of us. I won’t spoil the ending by saying Cinderella lives happily ever after, but she looks like her chances are better than most. The production works out to be more of a discussion of values interspersed with snappy dialogue than a mere children’s story.

Cinderella Waltz is scheduled to run from October 17-26 and is directed by Dr. John Conlon. Next scheduled is Alice in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll, and directed by Eileen Rooney, which is to run from November 14-23.

I’ve read both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and this production seems to be a successful merger of both. The technical requirements alone for this play are tremendous. How does one portray Alice growing ten feet tall never mind a giant chessboard and a virtual army of playing cards? The casting and technical logistics, not to mention where and when the story will be set and how they shall be worked out, remain to be seen. It shall require a great deal of innovation on the part of Rooney to implement all of the elements and still remain faithful to the tale.

The beginning of Through the Looking-Glass is used, when Alice finds herself marveling at how much fun it would be to step through the mirror, whereas in Wonderland, Alice’s story begins with the chase of the White Rabbit. Not to worry, the famous trial has not been eliminated nor have the twins, TweedleDee and TweedleDum. With psychedelic mushrooms, a Mad Tea Party, and rhymes all around, the coming of this play should be highly anticipated.

Next on the calendar is the New Works Festival, December 5-7, an attempt at collaboration between the directing, playwriting, and acting classes. The students will not only write the productions but they will help in creating the set, participate in the plays, and give us their slant on how to run a program. The Festival is similar in scope to the Black Box Plays, only longer and more complicated.

When I asked Matt Breton, a theatre major, how the Theatre division planned to do all of this in the span of fourteen weeks with vacations and holidays interspersed within that time frame, he said, “We’ll find out by doing it.”

Last but not least on the list is the Dance Concert, directed by Dr. Margaret Musmon and going from December 13 to December 14 and, in her words, “An evening of new works by students and faculty including ballet, modern dance, jazz, and possibly hip hop this semester. There will be a Latin ballroom piece.” With all the productions taking place this semester, it looks like it will be an interesting kaleidoscope of multiple styles and curiosities.