It’s Curtains for Meramec’s Fall Theater Season

Posted on 05 December 2017 by Ian Schrauth

‘Middletown’ breaks fourth wall, features actors in multiple roles

 

By: Madison Bouse
Staff Writer

 

7From November 15-19, the curtain rose on Meramec Theatre’s production of Middletown. Theatre Production Assistant and Director Tricia Duffin described the show as a reflection of how individual lives intersect in small-town America.

“It’s a story about life; everything from birth to death,” said Duffin. “I want [audiences] to come away with a greater sense of their purpose and who they’re connected with. All our shows this season have to do with defining home, family, and community.”

Just as Middletown set out to remind audiences that their lives are more than birth and death dates, it reminded cast members like Trey Marlette, Luke Elliott and Scarlett O’Shaughnessy that a production at Meramec Theatre is about more than the audition and the final curtain call; it’s about the relationships made along the way.

Middletown was Meramec student Trey Marlette’s third production at Meramec Theatre. His four roles —Ground Control, Man On Date, Landscaper, and Janitor—sketch a cross-section of the entire cast, which is composed of relatable, yet often unnamed, characters.

“Right before we go to intermission, five of the actors are onstage in what looks like theatre seats,” said Marlette.  “We’re audience members during intermission at the show. We’re breaking the fourth wall …. There’s no typical sense of conflict to the show; it’s just a metaphor for life. Nobody knows how it’s going to end, and anything could happen, so we might as well live it to the fullest.”

Luke Elliott, also a Meramec student, took on the role of John Dodge for his first production at Meramec Theatre. Beyond the exhilaration of performing for an audience, Luke said that the bonds he formed with fellow cast and crew members have meant the most to him.

“Meeting new people here was so rewarding. We’re all working toward the same goal, and no one—except the director, as it should be—is above anyone else. Everyone is open to new ideas, even if we don’t end up using them. We’re always learning more and taking in new perspectives.”

That type of collaborative effort is important while working on a team of at least twenty people who make a production like Middletown possible, said Duffin. Each person involved is essential to the show’s success: director, cast, prop master, scenic crew, technical crew, costume crew, designers, stage and floor managers, ushers and box office workers.

“[Duffin] will take lots of notes as we run through the rehearsal, and at the end we’ll sit down to go over it all.  She’s really great about giving us encouraging, useful feedback,” said Scarlett O’Shaughnessy, a Meramec student who has worked on several productions at Meramec Theatre and portrayed three roles in Middletown: Tour Guide, Attendant and Sweetheart.

Among Duffin’s various responsibilities as theatre production assistant, working alongside students onstage, backstage and after-hours is what she finds most worthwhile.

“Watching people grow—like when the light bulb goes off as someone makes a breakthrough for the first time, or when a young actor really gets into their character for the first time—those moments are the reason why I’m here every day. And the best part is when all of my kids come by just to talk, ask advice and be a part of my life.”

Looking ahead to December, Meramec’s theatre has its sights set on its next production: The Piddlings, a play set in St. Louis and penned by Meramec’s own Professor Pamela Garvey. Auditions will be held Dec. 6 and 7 at 7 p.m., and all community members are welcome.

“Just come on in; auditions are professional but very relaxed,” said O’Shaughnessy. “And if you aren’t interested in acting, there’s plenty to do backstage as well. Everyone in the theatre is super welcoming, and you don’t need experience to get involved.”

For more information about Meramec’s theatre program, contact Tricia Duffin at pduffin1@stlcc.edu, or drop by her office at TH127. Open Theatre Club meetings are held weekly on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. in the black box, located in the Theatre building.

 

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