Review: Semester’s final theatre shows dazzle audiences

3 years ago Comments Off on Review: Semester’s final theatre shows dazzle audiences

 

Catherine Stallard | The Houstonian
Catherine Stallard | The Houstonian

 

Theatre department gives stunning performance in play centered around Alzheimer’s

The department of theatre and musical theatre is ending its performance season with two student-directed shows, one of which is, “The Other Place” written by Sharr White and directed by senior musical theatre major Ryan Smith.

“The Other Place” tells the story of Juliana, a brilliant research scientist turned drug promoter. From the start, the audience is made aware that Juliana is suffering from some kind of medical issue. She believes it is brain cancer, but it is later revealed to be early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Throughout the show, the audience experiences Juliana’s journey firsthand, feeling her pain as her condition progresses and takes over every aspect of her life.

Despite suffering bouts of confusion that worsen as the show progresses, Juliana is not portrayed as a victim but rather a strong, confident and sassy woman who is doing her best to be strong and live through her disease.

Senior musical theatre major Kasi Hollowell plays Juliana. Hollowell is simply captivating as Juliana, giving an impressive and diverse performance containing humor, intellect and intense drama.
Much of the show consists of masterfully performed monologues given by Juliana that mesmerizes the viewer and keeps the audience engaged in the story.

Junior theatre major Swayde McGaughey plays Ian, an esteemed oncologist and Juliana’s husband. McGaughey gives a fantastic performance as an intelligent doctor as well as a dedicated and compassionate husband and father. Even in the midst of a separation, he displays his unconditional love for Juliana and his concern for her health.

The relationship onstage between Hollowell and McGaughey is both believable and magnetic as they present some of the most compelling scenes in the show. Their marriage troubles are heartbreaking but present many comedic moments as Hollowell and McGaughey feed off each other perfectly.

Also featured in the show are senior musical theatre major Megan Jankovic and junior musical theatre major Brady Suggs, who take on the task of portraying multiple characters throughout the show.

Jankovic and Suggs both give wonderful performances by making each character they play different and distinguishable from the others.

Smith has succeeded in both connecting a small cast that performs in complete sync onstage as well as directing a play that hits on serious issues. This can be incredibly difficult to convey to an audience.

Smith has directed the show in a way that will leave audiences feeling not only empathy for Juliana and her family but also hope and the need to look up and trust that things will get better.
“The Other Place” performances will run through Saturday afternoon in the Showcase Theater at the UTC.

Poetic performance given in “The Language Archive”

“The Language Archive,” a play written by Julia Cho and performed by the department of theatre and musical theatre, will leave audiences thinking about their relationships with loved ones, their deepest desires and the way we communicate with one another.

The show is directed by senior theatre major Peter Ton and focuses on a group of people who are all connected in some way, each going through their own separate journeys throughout the play.

Ton displays remarkable talents as a director with this beautiful show. With the decision for a simplistic set design and transition scheme, the focus is purely on the story and the actors’ performances.

Senior theatre major Christopher Preslar plays George, a professional linguist fascinated by the art of languages, particularly rare languages that are apt to die out. As George struggles with his marriage and faces obstacles at work throughout the show, he learns to let go and accept what has changed in his life.

Preslar plays George elegantly and keeps the audience engaged while inspiring empathy, giving an incredibly dynamic and, at times, heart breaking performance.

Senior theatre major Ashten Lane plays Mary, George’s wife. The character is an intelligent woman determined to find happiness even if that means leaving everything she knows behind and starting new.

Lane plays Mary as an extremely relatable and sophisticated woman. Lane is charismatic and energetic onstage giving a performance of professionalism and grace.

Junior theatre major Channing Horton plays Emma, George’s assistant at the linguistic lab who is on her own journey of self-discovery.

Horton plays Emma as an intelligent and compassionate young woman who is extremely likable and charming on stage.

Senior theatre major Tanner Stogsdill and freshman theatre major Alex Raasch play Resten and Alta, a married couple from Russia whose language is being studied by George and Emma. Throughout the show, the audience witnesses the struggles Alta and Resten face as husband and wife as well as their unconditional love for each other.

Stogsdill and Raasch are hilarious as the biggest source of humor in the show, taking on specific mannerisms and quirks and giving an entertaining performance.

Sophomore theatre major and stage manager Anna Maria Morris runs a precise and professional show with sophomore theatre major and assistant stage manager Stephen Harris. The performance is capped off with beautiful transition music and lighting as well as interesting and fun scene transitions performed by the actors themselves.

Ton has done a fantastic job blending a wonderful cast and conveying a truly beautiful and inspiring story. Audiences will leave feeling inclined to pursue their dreams, live a life that they truly want and, most importantly, share emotions with the ones they love the most.

“The Language Archive” is a slice of culture and elegance. Performances of “The Language Archive” will run through Saturday.