By Mackenzie Currie
In the past couple of months, many of us have been going about classes and wondering what to do with friends later. However, coming September 27 is something you and your friends will be dying to see.
Everyone should go and see a play called “Tennessee Playboy” put on by the School of Music, Theatre and Dance. If you do not have the time to see it the 27 through the 29, you should watch it the following weekend on October 4 through 6.
If you go that week, there will be a special guest for the actors, crew and audience.
For the play in general, the plot is fantastic and the actors hold their own in dramatic scenes that are supposed to be taken seriously. There are many moments for the audience to laugh and have fun with the show.
During a run-through of the show one can get a glimpse of what the show would look like. The play takes place in a beautifully simplistic restaurant with complex colors. The lighting is just right for a restaurant late at night and early in the day. As a play should, it makes you feel like you are there.
That was when the play began. The music started playing, and we were introduced to our first character, Pearlene.
Pearlene, played by Juli Biagi, is washing up the vacant restaurant when a fellow by the name of Stanley, played by Brady Day, walks in. The scene is amazingly comedic and suspenseful as Stanley tells Pearlene that he keeps hearing this moaning from outside the restaurant. No one believes him at first, but Stanley was right. The rest of the show takes a turn for the funny, weird and serious. Everyone excited about the show has every right to be. It is something to behold.
According to the director of the show, this will be the first university performance of “Tennessee Playboy”. This begs the question, “How could the actors work on their characters with little reference to work on?”
The first thing to point out about the rest of the acts is that there are a lot, but not too many, references to the Bible. It moves the play forward in some scenes.
Here is another little teaser for everyone to enjoy. Something exciting happens near the end of Act II.
The sound for the play when I went there seemed to be pretty solid. It gives you a great sense of what exactly is happening and when.
For example, the entirety of Act I takes place at night, and you need something to convey that to your audience besides the characters blatantly stating it is night.
The sound designer could add something like ambient cricket noises to fully immerse the audience into the scene. This is exactly what happened, so I immediately knew I was in for a ride right as the play began.
Ben Elliott, who plays Reverend Jimmy Stykes, says that one of the hardest things to learn was dialect. For example, instead of saying, “you all,” he had to say “y’all.” It became hard to speak in that specific dialect.
Another difficult part of the show to learn, in Brady’s opinion, was physicality.
“Stanley is physically everywhere,” he said.
Watching the play, Brady’s character, Stanley Kincade, is almost off the walls in some scenes. In other moments of the play, characters are seen dancing as well as doing other actions at the same time.
All in all, looking through the eyes of the actors, it seems entirely difficult to learn all of it in six weeks.
Jamie Valentine and Melissa Denney, who play Inell Trotter and Margie Pentland respectively, said that their characters taught them to have more fun in theatre and just enjoy theatre as a whole again.
Bobbi Baranek, who plays widow Quince, said that connecting with the characters has not been easy.
“Quince has a confidence to her, and that’s something I’ve struggled with,” she said.
Throughout the play, the audience sees this character pop up periodically to either save the main character, Chuck MacAdie, played by Sam Lynch, from some unfortunate events nearing the plays resolution or just to spill some truth.
Moving on to some underrated moments you might encounter is a scene with Chuck, and three other people.
This scene comes immediately after a comedic scene with Pearlene and Stanley, and the slight change in tone is beautifully done.
When talking to the group, Lynch mentioned that, to help him improve his character, he should “have a conversation with him more.”
When asked how he did research on his character, he looked at his character’s history, and some outside sources that are in Tennessee.
The actors, with the help of the dramaturg Isaac Derkach who also plays a character in “Tennessee Playboy,” played their parts with beauty and turned a script into a work of art.
Come and enjoy some comedy and some small tragedy in this contemporary work. This play would be a, “unique opportunity to leave a mark on their character,” according to Derkach.