BGSU Department of Theatre and Film

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ serves up large helping of musical comedy

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A house plant. Not the most original present. Unless as is the case with the newest gift from the Bowing Green State University Department of Theatre the plant happens to be the flesh eating kind and expresses its appetite in such soulful dulcet tones. “Little House of Horrors” opens tonight (Thursday, Nov. 15) at 8 p.m. and continues  with shows Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Donnell Theatre in the Wolfe Center for the Arts on campus. Click for tickets. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, known for their later work on Disney musical animated films, turned a grade B horror film into a delightful romp on Skid Row with tuneful, Motown inspired melodies and a story that revels in its campy roots. This is a love story, and a weird celebration of neighborhood. “Downtown (Skid Row)” paints the scene, a place people want to flee, yet there’s a cheerfulness to the despair.  That neighborhood spirit is embodied by the three urchins, essentially a girl group from the 1960s. They are one of the show’s most inspired touches. Chiffon (Zayion Hyman), Crystal (Sherry White), and Ronnette (Gabriyel Thomas) are always on hand, a soulful Greek chorus, belting out reflections and advice, all in robust harmony and rousing rhythm. They are played as ageless sprites, always observing, and amused, but never intervening. Seymour (played by Michael Cuschieri at the dress rehearsal I saw and on Thursday and Saturday, and played by Noah Estep on Friday and Sunday) is a child of Skid Row, a hopeless kind of nerd. An orphan he was taken in by Mushnik (Isaac Batty) who owns a flower shop. As Seymour recounts he has lived in the shop since he was a child, sleeping under a counter and eating scraps. Even God isn’t sure what to make of him. But he loves plants and finds a peculiar species he can’t identify and brings it to the shop to nurture. He names it Audrey II after the shop’s clerk Audrey (Anna Randazzo) whom he has a crush on.  Audrey slut-shames herself and thinks all she deserves for a boyfriend is the sadistic dentist Orin (Noah Froelich). Orin’s treatment of Audrey is hard to stomach even in a comedy.  He’s a one-dimensional villian, but packed with all the minerals and vitamins a carnivorous plant needs….


‘You Got Older’ delivers emotional look at family, sex, & cancer

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Late in the play “You Got Older” actor Jim Dachik makes a slight gesture to his neck. That’s where his character has had cancer surgery. The gesture is casual, just something this aging man would do. Yet the slight, silent movement speaks volumes. The touch is freighted with concern about his health, and the desire to conceal that concern from his daughter, Mae (Kelly Dunn) who is seated at the breakfast table across from him. They’d already been through a lot, and it’s all packed in that simple gesture. Clare Barron’s 2014 award-winning drama opens tonight (Thursday, Oct. 18) for a two weekend run in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at Bowling Green State University. Click showtimes and tickets.  When the play opens, Mae has just arrived to spend some time with her father who is undergoing treatment for cancer. Mae is a 30-something woman at a critical point in her life. She was just dumped by her boyfriend who was also her boss so she also lost her job. She’s missing physical intimacy — she knows exactly how long it’s been since she’s had sex — but she’s also suffering from a severe rash on her back stretching to under her breasts. She struggles to keep all this away from her father, who wants to know. They have the kind of relationship where a discussion of toothbrushes erupts into an argument. He seems determined not to let the cancer weaken his involvement with his family. He’s torn between being resigned and defiant. This is captured in what he calls his cancer song, Regina Spektor’s “Firewood,” the song he listens to on the way to treatment. He has Mae listen to it. The song with its opening line “the piano is not firewood yet” and talk about rising “from your cold hospital bed” expresses what he cannot. Alone in her older sister’s former room though never safe from a casual intrusion by her father, Mae has intense visions of a cowboy (Tyler Fugitt), who treats her as property and handles her roughly. In real life, she goes out to the local bar and meets townie Mac (Adam Hensley), who both offers comfort, but is also kind of odd, at once sweet and  creepy. As Dad goes in for treatment, we meet Mae’s siblings — in-charge older sister Hannah (Hope Elizabeth Eiler), the lost in…


‘You Got Older’ opens at BGSU

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s Department of Theatre and Film will present “You Got Older,” a play by Clare Barron Oct. 18-27. “You Got Older,” which won the Vineyard Theatre’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, tells the story of Mae, who returns home to care for her ill father in Washington State just as her own life has come crashing down around her. Living in her childhood home, Mae must nurse her father back to health, while tending to emotional wounds of her own. Engaging in surreal fantasies, the heartbreaking particulars of caretaking, and reconnecting with her siblings, Mae struggles to come to terms with the sometimes exhilarating, sometimes devastating, and often wildly unpredictable events that populate the human experience. At turns humorous and reflective, Barron’s play is a poignant account of the way we must sometimes deal simultaneously with standing still and moving on. BGSU Instructor Sara Lipinski Chambers directs “You Got Older,” assisted by Libby Zamiska and Lorna Patterson. The play includes scenic and lighting design by Steve Boone, costume design by Margaret McCubbin, and properties by Kelly Mangan. The cast is led by BGSU senior musical theatre student Kelly Dunn as Mae and Bowling Green resident and theatre business operations manager Jim Dachik as Dad.  Additional cast members include Hope Elizabeth Eller, Tyler Fugitt, Adam Hensley, Missy Snyder and Caleb Wise. Dramaturgical research is performed by Mohamadreza Babaee, choreography by Alec Batton, and fight choreography by Macaela Carder. Stage manager Jillian Fournier is assisted by Kate Tayler. Performances, in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts on the BGSU campus, are Oct. 18-20 and 25-27 at 8 p.m., and Oct. 20, 21 and 27 at 2 p.m. Tickets purchased in advance are $5 for students, $10 for seniors, and $15 for adults. All tickets are $20 if purchased on the day of performance. Tickets can be purchased through the BGSU Arts Box Office in the Wolfe Center, online at bgsu.edu/arts, or by calling 419-372-8171. Guests with disabilities are requested to indicate if they need special services, assistance or appropriate modifications to fully participate in this event by contacting Accessibility Services at access@bgsu.edu or Theatre and Film, 419-372-8495, prior to the event.


University promises Gish name will live on BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The last day of classes this spring semester will mark the end of the 42-year history of the Lillian and Dorothy Gish Film Theater in Hanna Hall. Bowling Green State University officials hope this will mark a new chapter in film studies at the university, though the man behind the theater, Ralph Haven Wolfe remains disheartened at the changes to the theater he founded and led for 40 years. He said Friday afternoon that changing the theater in the Bowen Thompson Student Union into the Gish marks a step back to 1975 when the university did not have a theater dedicated to showing films. The space in the union will still be a multi-use space, he said. That’s necessary said, Dean Ray Craig, who led several members of the media on a tour Friday of where the Gish facilities will be moving next semester. Those include a large lecture hall, Olscamp 117, which will be named the Ralph Haven Wolfe Viewing Center. That will replace in name the viewing center now in Hanna. That viewing room houses a collection of hundreds of videocassettes, DVDs, and laserdiscs donated to BGSU by Wolfe. The relocation project will cost $500,000, said Bruce Meyer, interim vice president for capital planning/campus operations. The money will come from funds allocated to complete the university’s master plan. Craig explained that the Gish has served two communities. There are the students in film studies who screened their original work in the 168-seat venue, and there were film series that attracted the broader community. Those were the Sunday matinees, often silent films with live musical accompaniment, a Tuesday film series, and international films on Thursdays. Those series will all move to the student union theater. That auditorium will get a new digital high definition projection system and a screen large enough for those images. The sound system will be rearranged with some of the speakers now lining the walls being placed behind the screen. The system, said Bob Waddle, assistant vice president for capital planning, will be the same system used throughout campus, and that should avoid the glitches that sometimes have occurred during presentations in the venue. Now if there is a problem, any campus technician should be able to fix it. Craig said that though film programming will take priority, the auditorium will still need to be used for other events….


Eva Marie Saint shares laughter, tears & the wisdom from a life in acting

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Friday was a good day to be a theater student at Bowling Green State University. Eva Marie Saint was in the house. The house was the theater that bears the name of the Oscar-winning actress and 1946 graduate of BGSU. Saint established tone for what a conversation with an acting legend would be like. “Hi, everybody,” she announced as she walked to the dais. “This is really fun, maybe. We’ll see.” Laughter. It was fun. When the first reference to her age, 93, was made. She popped up from her seat. “She stands. She sits.” Saint had the students, who she described later as “bright,  serious, and funny, and  adorable,” laughing, leaning forward to catch her words of wisdom, and silent as she struggled to hold back tears when she talked about her late husband, Jeffrey Hayden, who died Christmas Eve, 2016. Hayden was an esteemed and prolific producer and director. Lesa Lockford, who chairs the Department of Theatre and Film and who conducted the session with students, said Hayden directed many of the TV shows that she grew up watching. The couple’s 65-year marriage defied Hollywood odds. This was Saint’s first trip without him, she told the press later in the day, and only possible because their two children, Laurette and Darrell, accompanied her.  She returned to participate in tonight’s Bravo! BGSU activities. Being married to a director, not a fellow actor, was one key to the longevity of their marriage. Actors, Saint said, even if they’re not vying for the same roles, tend to be very competitive. She recalled living with another actress in her early days in New York. Her roommate was going for radio roles, while Saint was going for theater and TV work. The roommate kept getting calls for work. Saint said she found herself hating this woman, even though they were good friends, until of course, she started getting calls. Saint did not set out to be an actor. She followed her older sister to BGSU from Albany, NY, intent on becoming a teacher like her mother. Her father had heard about BGSU, and it was a less expensive alternative to schools in the East. Living in Shatzel, the students, all women, would put on their pajama-clad shows. Saint sang “I’m Just a Girl who Can’t Say No.” She loved the laughter and applause that  greeted her song….


BGSU to stage ‘Threepenny Opera,’ ‘darkly comic story of crime, sex, marriage, corruption and betrayal’

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s Department of Theatre and Film will present Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s landmark musical, “The Threepenny Opera” in the Thomas B. And Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts for one weekend only, April 19-22. Written in 1928 and based on John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera,” “The Threepenny Opera” tells a darkly comic story of crime, sex, marriage, corruption and betrayal – all revolving around notorious gangster Mack the Knife. When Mack pairs up with Polly Peachum, heir to the city’s largest syndicate of deceitful beggars, his plans for cashing in on the queen’s coronation day go awry. Mack has friends in high places – but will they be able to protect him from his bitter enemies? Known for its influence on later musicals like Kander and Ebb’s “Cabaret,” Brecht and Weill’s biting tale of beggars, whores and thieves is frequently revived for new audiences around the world.  Weill’s celebrated score includes such standards as “Mack the Knife” and “Pirate Jenny.” BGSU Professor Jonathan Chambers directs the production, which features a cast of more than 20 BGSU students. Scenic Designer and Properties Master Kelly Mangan and Costume Designer Margaret McCubbin infuse the production with a punk-and-junk aesthetic, while College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Marcus Sherrell brings the action to life with a dynamic lighting design. The cast includes Kris Krotzer as Mack the Knife, Anna Parchem as Polly Peachum, Kelly Dunn and Noah Froelich as her parents, Erica Harmon as Jenny, and Jabri Johnson and Anne Koziara as Tiger Brown and his daughter Lucy. Jillian Fournier serves as stage manager, assisted by Paige Dooley. This performance is funded in part by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music Inc., New York, New York. The production includes strong language, violent and adult situations, and brief nudity. Performances are at 8 p.m. April 19-21 and at 2 p.m. April 21 and 22. Tickets purchased in advance are $5 for students, $10 for seniors, and $15 for other adults. All tickets are $20 if purchased on the day of performance. Tickets can be purchased through the BGSU Arts Box Office in the Wolfe Center, online at bgsu.edu/arts, or by calling 419-372-8171.


“The Language Archive” speaks to difficulties of communicating from the heart

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The linguist at the center of the play “The Language Archive” is fluent in a number of languages. The language of the heart is not one of them. The play by Julia Cho is all about the difficulty of mastering that language. “The Language Archive” opens tonight (Thursday, Feb. 15) and continues weekends through Feb. 24 at the Eva Marie Saint Theatre in Bowling Green State University’s Wolfe Center for the Arts. Click for show times and ticket information. For George (Connor Long) those troubles are evident from the opening scene. He’s concerned about his wife who always seems sad, crying at the least provocation whether watching TV, cleaning the house, or writing notes. “She uses her tears to seal the envelopes.” But his wife, Mary (Felita Guyton), wonders why he never cries, not even at the death of his grandmother. As a linguist devoted to preserving dying languages, he finds the extinction of a language far more moving than the death of any pet or family member. There are 6,900 languages in the world, he notes, and half of them are expected to be gone by the end of the century. The death of a language is the death of a world, he believes. (Though as another character points out later, the world dies first.) George works in an archive of tapes of dead and dying languages. He and his long-time assistant Emma (Laura Beth Hohman) are welcoming a couple who speak a nearly extinct language. They hope to capture their conversation on tape. Usually they have only a single speaker of an endangered language who delivers long stories and monologues. Seldom do they have two people who can converse. And Resten (Michael Tosti) and Alta (Hope Elizabeth Eller) do converse in a comic scene. They are sullen when they enter, and then they start talking, bickering. It starts with the wife’s complaints about getting stuck in the middle seat on the airplane on their flight over, devolves into his complaints about her cooking, and then they vow never to speak to each other again. All in English. They explain to the linguists that when they argue they do so in English because their native tongue is too beautiful for arguments. It truly is the language of the heart. Now “Mr. Science Man,” as they call George, won’t hear those beautiful sounds because…


BGSU theater staging ‘The Language Archive’

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s Department of Theatre and Film will present Julia Cho’s award-winning play, “The Language Archive” in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at BGSU’s Wolfe Center for the Arts, Feb. 15-24. Performances are in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts on the BGSU campus, Feb. 15-17 and 22-24 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 17, 18, and 24 at 2 p.m.Tickets purchased in advanced are $5 for students, $10 for seniors, and $15 for adults. All tickets are $20 if purchased on the day of performance. Tickets can be purchased through the BGSU Arts Box Office in the Wolfe Center, online at bgsu.edu/arts, or by calling 419-372-8171. Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for women who have written distinguished works for the English-speaking theatre, “The Language Archive” tells the story of George, a brilliant linguist who has devoted himself to archiving dying languages. When George’s wife leaves him after he fails to decode a series of mysterious notes he receives from her, he struggles to learn the vocabulary of loss as he fights to preserve the Elloway language. Its last known speakers, a bickering elderly couple grappling with their own sense of loss, refuse to speak to each other in their native tongue, making George’s work nearly impossible. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to George, his assistant, Emma, finds herself unable speak in complete sentences as she tries to come to terms with her feelings for him. Inspired by the universal language of Esperanto, which was created with the hope of moving toward a more peaceful and unified world, “The Language Archive” offers a poignant and bittersweet exploration of the insufficiency of language to capture and communicate the human experience. Still, Cho’s play reminds us that language is sometimes an act of faith, and often our only hope for coming to terms with loss. As Cho’s characters discover, we sometimes have to venture further into sadness to find the endings we need – even if they’re not the endings we imagine. Introspective and lightly comic, “The Language Archive” offers a subtle examination of the challenges of communicating in an ever-changing world. BGSU faculty member Sara Lipinski Chambers directs the production, while collaborating with production personnel from the Department of Theatre and Film, as well as with Clayton Peterson of the BGSU School of Art. Peterson’s striking scene design is paired with contemporary costume design by Margaret…


Puppets have the power to entertain, enrage, and heal

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Two things were clear during the conversation on Puppetry: Exploring Life & Art. Puppets aren’t just for kids, and puppeteers are tired of having writers point out that puppets are not just for kids. The panel came on the eve of ArtsX at Bowling Green State University. Kelly Mangan, the prop master for the Department of Theatre and Film, facilitated the talk between Mel Hatch Douglas, a 1998 BGSU graduate and associate artistic director of Madcap Puppets, and Bradford Clark, puppet master, scholar, and museum curator. The spoke in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre with a backdrop of some of the puppets in their lives. In some traditions, puppets are considered alive. Mangan remembered first meeting Clark, long before either joined the BGSU faculty. She was 19, and she remembered Clark blowing incense into the eyes of puppets. This came, he said, from his studies in Bali. “At that point, they became people,” she said. “As a prop person in order to put them back into storage, we had to take the life out. Until then we treated them as people.” For a 19-year-old, this was magic. She’s retained her love of puppets and has used them in her work. “I look at a script and help a director tell that story.” Sometimes that involves elements of puppetry. For a Huron Playhouse production of “The Wizard of Oz,” she used elaborate shadow puppets as scenery. Clark recalled his own initiation into puppetry. He loved it as a kid growing up in California. His fourth grade teacher brought in a stage so he could present marionette shows. Right before heading off to college he took a job at an old theater in the Carmel Valley run by two veteran puppeteers and his passion was fully aflame. The focus of his studies has been the use of puppets around the world, both in theater and ritual. Douglas came to puppets relatively late. She delayed graduating from BGSU by touring as an actress. When she finally graduated in 1998, some six years after her class, she was beginning to tire of the traveling actor’s life.  She was offered a job at MadCap in 2000 and has been there since. The troupe she noted hires actors, and then trains them as puppeteers. She brought MadCap to campus for ArtsX where the troupe presented its shadow puppet treatment of…


BGSU Theatre offers early 20th century romantic comedy

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s Department of Theatre and Film will present “Diana of Dobson’s,” Cicely Hamilton’s Edwardian comedy of manners, in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts for one weekend only, Nov.16-19. When London department store employee Diana comes into an unexpected sum of money, she fulfills her dream of vacationing abroad. Posing as a wealthy widow, she attracts the romantic attentions of Captain Bretherton, a fellow traveler she meets in Switzerland. Are his affections genuine, or are he and his aunt merely after Diana’s supposed fortune? “Diana of Dobson’s” explores this question, as well as ones regarding the limited options available to working-class women in the early 20th century, in a style that mixes the witty intelligence of George Bernard Shaw with elements of classic romantic comedy. BGSU faculty member Jonathan Chambers has directed the production of the 1908 play with traditional early 20th-century “music hall” embellishments, including live music provided by BGSU Lecturer Geoffrey Stephenson and theatre student Anna Parchem. Jarod Dorotiak is the accompanist. “Diana of Dobson’s” features Camila Piñero as Diana and Jarod Mariani as her suitor, Captain Bretherton. The cast also includes students Harmon R. Andrews, Hennessey Bevins, Kelly Dunn, Adam Hensley, Laura Hohman, Megan Kome, Lorna Jane Patterson, Fallon Smyl, and Gabriyel Thomas. BGSU Lecturer Kelly Wiegant Mangan has designed scenery and properties to capture the play’s 1908 charm, and Professor Margaret Cubbin provides costumes that showcase the period’s popular fashions. Lighting design is by Professor Steve Boone. The production team also includes Stage Manager Stephanie Vietor and Assistant Stage Manager Nora Long. Performances are in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts on the BGSU campus, Nov. 16-18 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 18-19 at 2 p.m. Tickets purchased in advanced are $5 for students, $10 for seniors, and $15 for adults. All tickets are $20 if purchased on the day of performance. Tickets can be purchased through the BGSU Arts Box Office in the Wolfe Center, online at bgsu.edu/arts or by calling 419-372-8171. Guests with disabilities are requested to indicate if they need special services, assistance or appropriate modifications to fully participate in this event by contacting Accessibility Services, access@bgsu.edu, Theatre and Film, 419-372-8495, prior to the event.


Treehouse Troupe takes “New Kid” on the road to share lessons about tolerance

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bullying is an international language. That’s a lesson Nic learns on her first day in an American school. She had moved with her family to the United States from Homeland, not speaking English, and now she must adjust to life among strangers. That’s the plot of “New Kid,” a play by Dennis Foon being staged in schools around the region by Bowling Green State University’s Treehouse Troupe. Recently the troupe staged “New Kid” in the atrium of the Wood County Public Library for home-schooled students and students from St. Aloysius. We meet Nic played by Shannan Bingham and her mother played by Kristyn Curnow as they discuss leaving their country Homeland. The backdrop is colorful and their costumes are an iridescent green. Though they say they don’t know English, their lines come out as English, and the audience knows what they are saying. Soon Nic is in her new school, shyly joining two other students, Mencha (Autumn Chisholm) and Mug (Harmon Andrews) at recess. Before she comes out the audience gets to listen in on Mencha and Mug’s conversation. Not that it will do them any good. They’re animated as they chat but the words frustrate comprehension. Clearly it’s a language, just not one we understand. Nor as it turns out any other language. The actors’ body gestures, make it clear that they are negotiating some sort of exchange. The language was made up by the playwright to give youngsters a sense of what it’s like to be in a place where you can’t understand what anyone else is saying. Nic has a rough time. Mug starts by teasing and then taunts her, even breaking the bowl her friends back in Homeland gave her as a going away present. She learns one word “Groc,” an ethnic slur. She flees school. Nic returns to school the next day intent of staying away from the others. But Mencha proves to be a good hearted sort who befriends her and helps her deal with Mug’s bullying. Emily Aguilar, who directs the troupe, said she was attracted to the script because it tackles the subject of bullying specifically as it relates to immigration in a way that appeals to a wide age range of students. The play has been staged for students from kindergarten to grade 8. Dealing with xenophobia is important “especially today in our current climate,” she…


BGSU’s “The Penelopiad” shows the tragedy on the ancient Greek homefront

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News “The Penelopiad” is a woman’s take on the testosterone-fueled tales told in “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” Given women’s place in the ancient societies that spawned these myths, we shouldn’t be surprised that Margaret Atwood should set her tale in hell, or the Greek version, Hades, more a place of internal torment than physical pain. “The Penelopiad” directed by Sara Lipinski Chambers, opens in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre on the Bowling Green State University campus tonight (Thursday, Feb. 16) and continues weekends through Saturday, Feb, 25. (See details below.) Through Penelope (Katya Dachik), the legendary faithful wife, we learn the other side of the story of  Odysseus and his return home after 20 years of war and wandering. We see his vengeance not as triumph but as tragedy. As with any Greek tragedy the plot is fueled by a central fault in our central character. Penelope believes she can somehow control the patriarchy that closes in on her life – her father, her husband, her in-laws, the controlling servant, and the suitors lusting for her body and more so her husband’s patrimony. But then that frail belief is all she has to cling to. Using the wiles her husband is famous for, she conspires to hold the unwelcomed suitors at bay only to bring death to those who aided her. But then Odysseus (Jarod Mariani) came home alone, his crew’s bodies strewn across the Aegean in a trail leading back to the bloody fields of Troy. “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” are tales of war told by the victors. Though men so often use women as a pretext for war, women are almost never among the victors, no matter what side their husbands, fathers, lovers, and sons fought on. This is a dark play. The stage thrusts into the audience seated in close quarters on three sides. We are observers in Hades as Penelope tells of her own mythic birth and an upbringing where she was never sure if her father might not pitch her off a cliff – he did try to murder her as an infant. She tells of how Odysseus was chosen as her mate. As was his wont he cheated to best his rivals for her hand in a footrace that determined her fate. He proves a surprisingly loving husband. Mariani’s Odysseus has great charms that are at one with…