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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Fall semester brings opportunities for theater performance

Published: August 22, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

It’s a new year and the air is ripe with opportunity. The SCC atrium echoes with the calls of reunited friendships while new connections are being made in the stairwell (you know, the ol’ “Let me help you with your suitcase” meet-cute). And of course, with every new semester, comes a full lineup of potentially wonderful live action performances for your viewing pleasure.

Brandeis Theater Company is serving up a real doozy of a program for the coming term. The group of undergraduate performers, designers, crew and house management will begin its season with a production of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone.” Directed by student-favorite Adrianne Krstansky (THA), fresh off a semester sabbatical, this play follows one woman’s odd experience, answering the phone of a dead man and getting herself involved in his life after death. The show, Oct. 9-12 will be only $5 for students—an excellent opportunity to view an award-winning play for a bargain.

In addition, the Brandeis Theater Company, in partnership with MusicUNitesUs, the Music Department’s World Music presenting program, will produce “The Conference of the Birds,” a spiritual and light-hearted musical. This show, based on a poem by Farid ud-Din Attar and a Persian myth, follows the journey of birds. On their voyage, they encounter riddles, and deep questions that will challenge audiences to join in. Like “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” the show is just $5 for students.

The BTC’s performances provide high quality entertainment for students. With higher budgets comes higher production value. But above that, the polish that comes from years of studying acting is truly visible. Past performances have been remarkable. There is no reason to think that this season should be any less of a theatrical showcase.

Of course on the flip side of the BTC is the Undergraduate Theater Collective who, as always, will deliver a diverse set of productions this fall.

The season kicks off with the 24-hour musical. Not much to say here other than that it will happen, in 24 hours, and it will be a whole lot of crazy. Directed by Sarah Hines, Sarah Brodsky and Ian Carroll, this open cast show is a great opportunity for those new to theater to get involved, and veterans to try something out of their comfort zone.

Then, in October, Boris’ Kitchen will deliver their first show of the semester, their annual “Old Sh*t Show.” This performance by Brandeis’ sketch comedy troupe features sketches from the group’s 27-year history (hence the title, “Old Sh*t”). It also will highlight the new members of the troupe. Boris’ Kitchen will take the stage for a second time in the fall in their 15th Annual Comedy Festival, where they’ll perform sketch comedy along with visiting professional and collegiate groups!

At the end of October, Brandeis Players will present “Angels in America” by Tony Kushner. It will be interesting to see how Players does with this drama. The show covers a variety of heavy topics including homophobia and drug abuse. Dramas are always challenging at the undergraduate level. Often these shows come off as phony or shallow. It will be an impressive feat if they can pull off a show of this dramatic.

Brandeis Ensemble Theater will present a student written and directed show, “Lost Girls” by Charlie Madison in November. This will mark the second student-written show for the group in as many shows. Madison is a senior and member of a capella group Company B. Premiering shows provides the unique opportunity to be creative at every level .

The following week, Tympanium Euphonium will present “Spring Awakening,” the Tony Award-winning rock musical based on a 19th-century German play. The show, directed by junior Rachel Liff, addresses some sensitive subjects, from abortion, to rape, to abuse, to suicide. It will be exciting to see how the group is able to convey these darker themes. The challenge of “Spring Awakening” is to deliver these powerful moments sincerely. These difficult acting moments could make or break the show.

The season closes with a quirky musical comedy by Neil Simon called “The Good Doctor,” which follows several short stories told by an unnamed writer with writer’s block. The stories range from a dramatic tale of sneezing to a one about extortion. Neil Simon shows are always a fun time.

This season of Brandeis theater is ripe with potential. It’s up to the production staffs and the yet-to-be-casted stars to make these shows their own and bring out the best they can.