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Arts/Culture Features Headline — 28 February 2014

By Hannah Litvan

Miami - written by Meghan Bortle, directed by Max Brosnahan-Lusk

“Basically, I wanted to do a simple show for student workshops. I worked with Meghan Bortle on a script that incorporated different themes I wanted play around with like the idea of fantasy versus reality and the idea of repercussions. What we ended up with was this short story of two people who are not happy with the hopeless situation they have put themselves and how they feel it is impossible it really is to walk away.”

- Max Brosnahan-Lusk

Synopsis: A drug-addicted couple, Ciara Cannoy, West Branch first-year, and Peter Verhaeghe, Swartz Creek senior, struggle with the issues of life, money, education, jobs, where to live and even custody battles. This intense short play is full of emotion, dreams and dispute. The characters dance around the responsibility that hangs over them, not wanting to face the reality of their not-so-perfect lives.

What’s good: The emotion was very believable. Cannoy and Verhaeghe had the chemistry of a tense couple with serious secret issues. Cannoy’s facial expressions and body language clearly relayed the mental strain of her character; exasperated and depressed. Verhaeghe’s slumping mood and sly voice portrayed the “throw everything in the wind” very well. On a directing and writing standpoint, I thought it was extremely well done. This was original, fast-paced but full. I left the theater feeling depressed, yet satisfied.

What could use work:  It was very dark on stage, so it was a little difficult to see. While drug use was mentioned, and there was a very small aspect of paraphernalia, I did not get the sense they were under the influence of anything. Occasionally the sound for when the phones rang was off, and I found the mother’s character to be flat and unbelievable.

Everynote - written and directed by Meghan Slocum

“When thinking about directing, I really wanted to do something that I had written myself because it would allow me to know exactly what I wanted.  I chose to model my show, Everynote, after an old play called Everyman.  In that play, Everyman is told that he is going to die and that he can ask his friends if they would go with him. They all say no, except for Good Deeds.  The moral is that only your good deeds follow you into Heaven. I wanted a similar message for Everynote.  I wanted Musician to take away what she only needed herself to write music, not any of the fancy instruments.

 When directing the show, it was difficult to reconcile the exactness of the characters I had written with the actors’ personalities.  I had to remember the inspiration for each character and try to direct the actors to see it as well, but also to allow them to take the characters in the way they saw them.  Seeing the show come together in the last several weeks has been a great validation of my skill.  It has let me see that theatre is where I belong, and that no matter what, anything can happen.”

- Meghan Slocum

Synopsis: Musician, Marie Perreault, Berkley sophomore, is about to die of a cocaine overdose. She doesn’t want to die before finishing her song, so she asks death to allow her to take an instrument with her. Death, Wally Kacher, Grosse Ile senior, agrees, and Musician runs around trying to convince different instrument to go with her. They all refuse, holding some form of resentment towards her, and Musician does not know where to turn. Death shows her she hold the music in her head. Angel, Dana Sorenson Birmingham senior, is upset and she and death talk about the concepts of each other.

What’s good: The idea carried a lot of potential. The concepts of life, death and personified instruments was intriguing. Perreault was a joy to watch. She had a big attitude and a wide stage presence. She moved a lot around stage, but also with her arms and expressions. Kacher took Death and made it his own. He was serene, calm and mysterious. His monotonous voice and total seriousness rooted the play’s overarching mood. I liked the costume design for the entire cast. The instruments accurately conveyed strong personifications of what they were. Piano, Chris Herweyer, Wyoming first year, was stoic and aloof, Guitar, Max Brundage, Marshall senior, was an arrogant bossy type, Drum, Ted Thomson, Oak Park, Ill senior, carried a beat and used short sentences, Violin, Shannon Seward, Riverview senior, was a prude and Trumpet, Corey Britain, Port Huron senior, had a crackly voice with shiny golden pants.

What could use work: I thought the movement of the play was choppy, it seemed a little rushed, and the instruments were only slightly developed characters. The conversations with the instruments were very brief, so the audience did not get to fully see why they did not like her or why they would not go with. Angel’s part in the play seemed unnecessary to me. She introduces the musician as a beautiful contribution to the world, and is sad after Musician dies, but she does not get too intellectual with death, their conversations are short, and Death runs them.


The Mistress at the Inn
– directed by Callie Bussell

“I wanted to try to make a show with a strong female lead. And I did just that. Mirandolina uses her feminine wiles to bring men to their knees.”

- Callie Bussell

Synopsis: Mirandalina, Meghan Bortle, Delton junior, is an inn keeper who knows how to carry her body and her tongue. She spends her time manipulating men into dogging after her. Captain Ripafratta, Paden McCown, Grosse Ile senior, is a man against women and against love. But he cannot resist the charms of Mirandalina. Neither can the other tenants or servants of the inn. This comedy explores matters of love, cunning and deep pockets with its many scene changes and wild stage movement.

What’s good: This play was very funny. The jokes seemed to be understood by the whole audience, so it had the theater in stitches. An audience favorite appeared to be the Marquis de Forlipopoli, Brandon Marino, Spring Lake sophomore. Marino’s silly voice and rude demeanor was an off putting yet hilarious presence on stage. McCown played his part well with a strong yet slowly crippling attitude. McCown’s extravagant facial expressions and crackly voice always please. McCown’s servant, Ciara Cannoy,  had the audience unable to stop laughing. Though she was often in the background, her attentive expressions and her swooning disposition kept the comedy rolling. The star of the show, Bortle, was indeed a star. She cleverly snuck about the stage with an heir of ownership. Her character worked every man on set, and maybe some in the audience.

What could use work: Fabrizio, Riley Coon, Portage senior, was supposed to be the subordinate and honest worker at the inn, but his character came off as boring and undesirable. The chemistry between Coon and Bortle, I wish, has been more tense because their characters actually loved each other, but secretly. The Count of Albfiorita, Max Brosnahan-Lusk, Berkley junior, was a smaller role, but I think he was supposed to be Italian. There was hint of some kind of accent, but it was difficult to tell. The scene changes took a little bit longer than I would have liked, but that is being knit-picky.

Photo by Hannah Litvan

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About Author

Hannah is a junior from Mt. Prospect, IL. She is an Art and English double major. She likes her daily jog, and late nights in the ceramics studio.

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