Tag: jsu drama

‘Once Upon A Mattress’: A quirky show that charms audiences like no other

Anna Marker, Correspondent 

On Friday, February 21, 2020, JSU drama opened their first production of their spring 2020 season with ‘Once Upon a Mattress’ at the Ernest Stone Performing Arts Center.

Continue reading “‘Once Upon A Mattress’: A quirky show that charms audiences like no other”

JSU showcases student talent

Christy Clasgens, A&E Reporter

The JSU Drama department presented their One Act Festival and Student Showcase on April 4th and 5th. The showcase included eight ten-minute scenes, each directed and performed by JSU students.

The showcase opened with Nothing Serious by Rich Orloff. This scene featured Haley Baker and Jake Lewis, and was directed by Ansley Gayton. Baker is a senior majoring in Psychology and is scheduled to graduate in May. Lewis is a freshman. Gayton is a Theatrical Production major, set to graduate in May. Nothing Serious was a funny scene about two people getting married, or “making the biggest mistake of [their] lives…together.”

The next act was a complete change of pace. Lawrence Mason, a junior Theatre Performance major from Dallas, TX, presented his take on William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Anika Corsi, a senior Theatre Performance major, shined as Brutus, while Brooke Elam, also a senior drama major, wowed the audience as Cassius.

Following Julius Caesar was Almost, Maine, written by John Cariani and directed by Chloe Barnes. The scene was a cute love story about two friends, performed by Deanna Blancher and Chandler Tarvin. Barnes, the director, is a junior studying Theatre Performance. Blancher is a music major, and Tarvin is majoring in English.

Next up was Tennessee Williams’s This Property is Condemned, directed by senior music major Sam Eddy.  This classic scene starred Kenli Doss and Mason Ward, both sophomores. Doss is majoring in English, while Ward is a Theatre Production major.

After a brief intermission, the Student Showcase continued with Nina in the Morning by Christopher Durang, also directed by Sam Eddy. The humorous excerpt featured Allison Lawley, Dominique Cheney, Jaden Vaughn, and Laurence Mason. Lawley is a third-year student majoring in Business. Cheney is a senior majoring in Theatre Performance. Vaughn is a sophomore majoring in Elementary Education.

Rebecca Weaver, a senior double-majoring in English and Drama, directed a scene Bent, by Martin Sherman. Bent was a heart-wrenching story of two gay prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp which received a film adaptation in 1997. Benjamin Marazzi, Mason Ward, and Eric Wilkerson were featured performers.

John Cariani’s Lovesick, directed by senior Theatre Performance major Eric Wilkerson, was a funny, light-hearted story. Lovesick featured Dylan Curvin and Cheyenne Oliver.

The showcase concluded with No Brains, No Entry, by Hypothetical Theatre Group, directed by Lawrence Mason. Featured performers included Kevin Jannot, Sean Golson, Jake Lewis, and Chloe Barnes. The short play was hilariously creative, and featured Barnes as a Zombie who desperately wants to be seen as a human and allowed to cross the Canadian border.

Mason Ward, who acted in two different one acts, felts honored to be a part of the student showcase.

“Being in the student showcase was one of my highlights in my college experience so far. Getting the chance to work so closely with some of my fellow theater students to prepare such powerful scenes was such a memorable experience,” says Ward.

“The two scenes I acted in were both rather dark and handled such sensitive subjects that it was a true honor to learn these characters and try to portray them so honestly,” he adds. “Without the guidance of my two student directors Benjamin Marazzi and Rebecca Weaver I believe the scenes we performed would not have been as powerful as they ended up being.”

The JSU Student Showcase was well-received by the audience. With the talent showcased here at JSU, it’s no surprise that the actors, directors, and staff received a standing ovation.

JSU drama present Company

Sydney Spencer, A&E Reporter

Jacksonville State University would like you all to accompany them to their newest drama production. The name of the play is Company and it is produced by professor Carrie Colton of the JSU Drama Department. Company is a play based after George Furth’s book and is one of the most influential musicals ever written. Unlike in most plays, Company has no linear plot, but it discusses the theme of marriage, monogamy, and finding your person. Colton describes the play as being “wonderfully and beautifully weird.”

It is not your typical musical with flashy lights and upbeat music, but it does keep viewers intrigued. There are many questions asked that will be relatable to the audience as well as making the audience think of how the play incorporates in their lives.

Auditions were unique and difficult because “the music is hard to sing, there are weird harmonies, and requires really good actors” says Colton.

She ended up casting half musicians and half actors so that every couple would have either a strong actor or a strong musician. Company was chosen because the department felt it was a great play for actors. There are good roles for everyone in it. They were trying to pick a more contemporary musical and another Sondheim musical. Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for the play for its Broadway premiere in 1970 and then revised it in the early 90’s. The most unique part about the play would be that it is not linear. There is no beginning, middle, and end. Colton explains it as being “the most bizarre play we’ve ever done.”

Although it is different, it compliments “She Kills Monsters”, which is another play that was done earlier this school year. She Kills Monsters was big, funny and flashy, while Company is more serious and slower. It is not very movement based and gives technicians something different to work on. Actors and music majors are given a different way of practicing their craft to find things they need to work on or discovering something new that they like. There is not really a message behind the play, but more of questions that Sondheim wanted to ask the audience that are questions everyone in life struggles with. When Sondheim asks questions, he is not really asking them to receive an answer, but to question why we spend majority of our lives trying to find our soulmate. The show dates for Company are March 8-11 at the Stone Center. Tickets are available online in the Drama Department of JSU’s website.

JSU prepares for second drama production of the year

Sydney Spencer, A&E Reporter

The Jacksonville State University Drama Department is having another production before the end of fall semester. This play is called The Flick and will be directed by professor Carrie Colton. Carrie Colton is an acting, speech, and voice professor here at Jacksonville State. She usually focuses on musical theatre and Shakespeare, but decided to take on the job because it is pretty rare for her to get to work on something different and the story behind the play is very touching.

The Flick is a play that was written in 2012 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014. It is about three people in a failing movie theater who are talking about their lives and why society is failing. They also discuss why they themselves are not happy in their own different ways. It focuses on two men one of which is a young African American male who is acting while in college and an older white male who has made acting his career. Their different lives and backgrounds make them the best of friends and also the best of enemies. You watch their friendship grow and wither as the play goes along. The audience will experience a mix of emotions from laughter, to sadness, and back to happy.

With changing directors during production, the cast had to adjust and still be able to produce an up to par play by the first show. Colton says, “I didn’t even cast this play…our previous director did.”

She adds how when she initially took the job she had no idea where to start, but the cast knew the play better than she did, so she was able to direct along the way. The cast has only had two and a half weeks of rehearsal, but they have done a lot of character work and kept the raw emotion that the actors had already found.

Colton explains how “you are never going to see anything like this because it is not a common play that is done a lot or something they are going to make into a movie.”

When asked how fun production has been she says she would give it an 8.5 because “fun is not the word I’d use.” The last day of rehearsals ended with everyone crying because the story has some moments that hit a little too close to home. The story does end with an uplifting message to balance out emotions. There are only two opportunities for this production to be seen and they are November 29th and 30th which is this Thursday and Friday at the Stone Center. It is ten dollars if you are a student and free if you are in a theater class at Jacksonville State.

New play a ‘Monster’ success for JSU Drama

(Photo Courtsey of JSU Drama)
JSU’s production of She Kills Monsters was by all accounts a success for JSU Drama.

Sydney Spencer, Staff Reporter

Since last Friday, Jacksonville State University has hosted four showings of She Kills Monsters, a play by Qui Nguyen and directed by Dr. Michael Boynton. This new contemporary and cutting-edge play helps set the bar at an even higher level for JSU’s top-notch Drama Department.

With many opportunities to go see it, the reviews for the show have been outstandingly positive. This play has become popular around JSU’s campus because it is relatable for young high school and college students facing the challenges of growing up.

 The play is a wacky comedy about two sisters that takes place in the 1990’s. The younger sister is a gaming nerd, while the older is an English teacher in her mid-twenties. Unfortunately, the younger sister passes away from a car accident and leaves the older sister guilty because she feels as if she did not truly know her. The older sister decides to play the younger’s Dungeons and Dragons campaign. While playing the game, the older sister and the younger sister are alongside each other defeating monsters and meeting other creatures, allowing the two to learn more about each other along the way.

With all the action going on, the main purpose of the play is to be an empowering message for women. Female actors had a lot of involvement with the play from the main actresses to the fighting scenes. Some of them had to hit the gym and learn how to fight with real swords. During production, the main situation they were concerned about the most were the technical difficulties.

According to Dr. Boynton, “two days leading up to showtime things were falling apart, but came together when the lights came on.”

 There was nothing but positive critique and feedback after shows. After the Saturday show, there was a great talkback where special guests from Birmingham from the (MCAC) Magic City Acceptance Center who enjoyed the show as well.

The Magic City Acceptance Center is a drop-in center for LGBTQ youth and their allies, ages 13-24 who can come be themselves and where everyone is celebrated for who they are. This correlates to the play because the older sister at the end of the play finds out her younger sister was a closeted lesbian and never spoke to her about it. The older sister feels awful because she was not able to be there for her sister as someone she could talk to about her sexuality.

After the show, the audience got to ask questions and critique. All actors did well during their performances says Boynton. He adds, “I feel like every actor in the show grew. Even my first-year students and students who had no clue what they were doing.” He also feels like his senior students who plan on acting for a living did an amazing job as well. He mentors them by telling them “to deepen their technique and hone their skills. They have learned more ways to approach character and prepare themselves for the professional world.”

Not only have the actors been working hard, but also the technical crew and faculty who are behind the scenes. Everyone altogether have put in at least forty hours a week and some of them even more time just to make sure their job is perfected. There is a lot of work that goes in to making a show what it is. On top of rehearsals, memorization, classes, jobs and trying to have a social life, the cast still managed to put on a tremendous production. All of the cast worked really hard and created a great working atmosphere. Boynton explains the importance of teamwork in casts and how this cast made themselves a family which made it easy for everyone to get along and focus on the main goal of a successful production. Even with minor elements not fixed before showtime, the play still had a triumphant turnout.