In March of 2014 I went to see Urinetown: The Musical, and wrote a review. My first theater review, and my first piece of work ever published in The Spartan.
Tonight, April 21, 2017, I went to see the senior show Stop Kiss, with the intention of writing this review. My last piece of work to be published in the Spartan.
In the three years since Urinetown, I have experienced tremendous personal and academic growth. But so have the actors on that stage.
I’m acquaintances with some, and have become very close friends with others. Getting to see their growth as actors, theater professionals and individuals has been amazing. I still clearly remember Lexi Fryover playing Little Sally in Urinetown, and Dalton-Jesse Cummins’ death in Terra Nova.
Now here Cummins is directing the show, and Fryover playing a far more serious role than in the 2014 production. In only three years, Erica James has also made herself a stand-out in Castleton’s theater department, and is clearly ready to take on the acting world. Paige Crickard and Peter Michelson might not be seen on stage, but without their stage management and technical theater work, the shows would not exist.
When I watch shows, a big thing I look for is the difference between the somber, quiet moments, and the loud, intense ones. Some shows have fallen short of my expectations, but Stop Kiss exceeded them.
When there were fights, they were loud, intense, and real. The actors did exactly what real people do during a fight. You yell, you get mad, but you also get stubborn and shut up to prove a point. It didn’t seem forced, and didn’t even seem scripted at moments.
I know from being friends with some of the actors, they had limited rehearsal time, but as an observer you wouldn’t have known. The main negative to me was the amount of time it took to switch scenes. I’m guessing that was because of the many costume changes, as Fryover and James wore different outfits in almost every scene.
The show explores very serious topics of sexuality, leaving what’s familiar to find yourself, and abuse, as it follows Fryover’s character Sara after she moves to New York from Missouri to teach in the Bronx, and ends up falling for James’s character Callie.
Through flashbacks, the audience learns that one night the two were kissing in a park and a man attacked them, hospitalizing Sara.
Typical of a black box show, the set design was versatile, set up as Callie’s apartment, complete with a slow cooker and futon. The futon doubled as the hospital bed in later scenes.
Freshman Anders Bright deserves a shout-out because his performance as the detective, whom I despised before his first scene was even over, established the intensity of the whole show. It wasn’t clear how controversial the situation was until Bright interrogated Callie, asking irrelevant questions to place blame where it did not belong.
It’s one thing to realize how far you’ve come, but an entirely different, and I think more impactful thing to see how far other people have come. This group of incredibly talented people put on a professional show with very limited time and resources, and I think that is a testament to their abilities and dedication.
Writing these reviews and watching the seniors, my friends, do what they do best, has been one of the highlights of my college career, and I wish them the best of luck in whatever they do.