Every year, the many activities and organizations on the St. Norbert Campus are carried out and serve in many different ways. While each organization is deserving of its own recognition, the SNC Theatre department does something on a yearly basis that is extremely impressive and challenging. In the 2018-2019 school year, the SNC Theatre Department (along with the student run theatre organization Knight Theatre) put on a total of four shows, continuing to prove that theatre at SNC is alive and thriving.
Fall semester marked the start of the theatre calendar year. Almost, Maine, directed by Erin Hunsader, hit the stage in early November. Written by John Cariani, the show details several brief moments on a cold January evening, and follows nine couples as they fall in and out of love beneath the magical Northern Lights in the small town of Almost, Maine. Glory (Kylie Marsden) and East (Michael Kielty) are two strangers who met by chance when Glory set up camp in East’s yard to see the Northern Lights. Jimmy (Anthony Tellier) and Sandrine (Taylor Donoval) are two once lovers who were awkwardly reunited on the night of Sandrine’s bachelorette party. Steve (Will Fisher) and Marvalyn (Marissa Helchen) live in the same apartment complex, yet they have never talked before meeting in the laundry room. Gayle (Jordan Schuman) and Lendall (Ben Wylie) are two long-term lovers who are faced with the question “how do you know when it’s time to move on?” Deena (Janelle Knick) and Shelly (Katy Verheyden) are two long-time best friends struggling to find love before realizing that it’s been in front of them the whole time. Phil (Steve Westergan) and Marci (Sarah Parks) are a married couple who learn that sometimes love leaves, and it’s time to let go. A woman named Hope (Taylor Donoval) returns hoping to meet Daniel (Michael Kielty), the man she left behind, but she learns that sometimes no answer is an answer. Rhonda (Janelle Knick) and Dave (Ben Wylie) are two snowmobilers who ride their friendship into exciting new territory after Dave paints his feelings for Rhonda to see. Ginette (Emily Tomcek) and Pete (John Dicks) are a young couple who shyly start and end the show, proving just how far some people will travel to be with each other. Together, these nine couples taught those who visited that sometimes love is hard, but almost always love is worth the risks. Roughly twenty students were involved with this production whether on stage or off, and together they helped set the tone for the bittersweet, humorous, and love-filled show. Almost, Maine was nominated to present one scene at the annual region three Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in January, and the two cast members from the scene “They Fell” were sent to celebrate this great achievement for the cast and crew.
This January marked the 25th year of the student-run theatre organization Knight Theatre. In celebration, the team put on the humorous musical The Addams Family, a quirky tale that calls back to the ‘90s TV show of the same name and details the family’s adventures. In the musical directed by Annicka Rabida, Wednesday (Savanna Meo), now a grown woman, wishes to bring home her new boyfriend, Lucas (Nicholas Surprise). At her house, Lucas will meet her father, Gomez (Zachary Dickhut), her mother, Morticia (Kiera Matthews), her younger brother, Pusgley (Jack Zampino), her grandmother (Emily Tomcek), and her Uncle Fester (Richard Dauphinais). However, before he arrives, Wednesday reveals to her father, and only her father, that she and Lucas are planning to get married. Mayhem ensues when Lucas’s parents, Mal (Logan Groh) and Alice (Sarah Jensen), arrive at the house and the two families do not get along. Later, when Alice accidentally drinks something that unleashes her dark side, it seems as though marriage between Lucas and Wednesday is hopeless. However, despite all the problems that have arisen, the young couple, along with their parents, are able to overcome the obstacles and find a happy ending. This musical teaches about love and the ability to overcome whatever is thrown your way. The Addams Family was a huge success for the 60+ students that worked for the Knight Theatre’s 25th show, and they sold out nearly 100% of their shows.
The Spring semester came, and the SNC theatre program put on the production of Brontë, written by Polly Teale. The play follows the three sisters, Charlotte (Marissa Helchen), Anne (Samm Dick), and Emily (Janie Janczakowski), along with their brother, Branwell (Ben Wylie), and their father, Patrick (Will Fisher), as the family moves throughout their lives and deals with the struggles that come along with them. Throughout the play, several characters from the sisters’ novels pop in and out as the audience follows the family through their life. Roughly nineteen students worked on this project, and together they created a successful show in early April.
The final show of the semester was the senior capstone, Doubt, A Parable. As all seniors must do for their major discipline, the theatre majors had to put together a show that captured what they had learned in their years at SNC. Elynor Gregorich, one of the seniors working on this project, recognized that this play required a deeper characterization than her roles in the past, and it was more realistic that the other shows done this year. Doubt, A Parable, written by John Patrick Shanley and directed by senior Maddie Wenc, is a story about Father Flynn (Michael Kielty), a beloved pastor for St. Nicholas Church School, who is accused of sexual misconduct by Sister Aloysius (Elynor Gregorich) who is the principal of the school. Sister Aloysius learns of a possible relationship between Father Flynn and a student in her care, and she informs both the mother of the student, Mrs. Muller (Taylor Donoval), and another nun at the school, Sister James (Maddie Glosny). Both are skeptical of the allegations, and the play ends without the audience ever truly knowing which side speaks the truth. In Gregorich’s words, this show is “not only about doubt, it’s also about consequences.” It teaches about faith, and the loss thereof, and that your actions have consequences. This production had involved eight students, six of whom were graduating seniors.
Throughout the course of the 2018-2019 school year, those involved in theatre put on four fantastic shows on this campus. Each show was unique in its own way, and everyone involved should be proud of their work. Theatre is not easy, yet the feeling of completing a successful show in front of an encouraging audience easily makes up for it. Please continue to support these hard working students in their future productions, and perhaps you could become involved as theatre continues to grow and succeed.