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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Hoot’s spring 2007 undergraduate theatre preview

Published: January 19, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

As the students of Brandeis return to campus in unseasonably warm weather for the start of another semester, the assorted undergraduate theatre groups are gearing up for their spring seasons. So, what can audiences expect to see grace Brandeiss all-undergrad stages this semester? How does murder, mayhem, warped fairly tales, English Renaissance drama, a North American premiere, a rap musical, and more sound?

It all starts with the Undergraduate Theatre Collectives opener, A Devil Inside by David Lindsay-Abaire, presented by Brandeis Ensemble Theatre. This dark comedy centers on Gene, who, on his 21st birthday, is told by his mother that his father was murdered fourteen years ago and that he must now embark on an epic quest for vengeance. In the course of the play, he crosses paths with four other quirky and eccentric characters who are all somehow connected to his fathers death. When asked what drew him to this play, director Kenny Fuentes 08 explained, I wanted to direct a show that was more difficult than your average undergrad play. The key to this show is to build an ensemble of characters who are real even in their chaotic and borderline surreal context. He also added that this is a comedy, so well be having fun. A Devil Inside will run March 8-11 in the Shapiro Theatre. Auditions are Jan. 22-23 with callbacks in the following days. Audition slots are ten minutes long and anyone seeking audition pieces or more information should contact Fuentes at

The UTCs season rolls on with another straight play, this one being the North American premiere of Crossing Jerusalem by Julia Pascal, mounted by the Brandeis Players. The play centers an Israeli family during the recent Intifada. Director Adam Schwartzbaum 07 explained, Most of all, Crossing Jerusalem is about families But moreover, it is a play about the secrets of our innermost lives. The private tragedy that tears these families apart is being experienced on a larger scale in hundreds of thousands of households across Israel and the Palestinian territories. No one escapes unscathed The question is, amidst this volatile situation, is there a place for that feeling which defies hatred: Hope? As an added bonus, Pascal, the playwright, will be coming to Brandeis for a workshop and a talkback about the show. Crossing Jerusalem will be performed in the Shapiro Theater March 15-18. Auditions will be held Jan. 22-23 with callbacks Jan. 24-25. Contact Schwartzbaum ( for more information or audition materials.

That same weekend, the Free Play Theatre Cooperative opens its second semester of service to the Brandeis community with Jose Riveras Marisol under the direction of Jennie El-Far 07 (director of The Black Eyed last semester). For those unfamiliar with Rivera, he is a contemporary Puerto Rican playwright with numerous awards to his name (including 2 Obies) as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay (The Motorcycle Diaries). The backdrop for Marisol, essentially, is that guardian angels have abandoned the Earth to fight in a revolution against an aging, senile God, leaving humanity to fend for itself. El-Far described the play as a collage of sensations and feelings that calls into question our conventional system of beliefs and what we consider our divine protection. The play is set to run March 15-17 in a yet-undetermined space;

however, El-Far has mentioned that the play is going to follow the example of Summer Evenings in Des Moines, creating theatre in a non-traditional theatrical space. The three Free Play shows will have common auditions 6-11 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 24 in Spingolds Crawford Studio. As far as audition preparation, El-Far stated, People can prepare anything, monologue, poem, song, story of their life, a funny joke, anything.

The next weekend, the UTC goes musical with Hillel Theatre Groups production of the 2003 Tony Award winner for best musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie. This musical focuses on Millie Dillmount, a girl who has escaped from the country lifestyle of Salina, Kansas to New York City, where she quickly assimilates the popular flapper style. Her goal? Marry her wealthy bosswhoever that may turn out to be. Im on a mission for fun, declared director Jason Fenster 08. I think doing open cast musicals is very important because it gives people a chance to really get on stage and have a lot of fun. And Millie is a great show for that, it is full of upbeat, up-tempo, exciting ensemble numbers. It will run March 22, 24, and 25 in the Shapiro Theater. There will be singing auditions Jan. 21, 22 and23 and group dance auditions Jan. 21 and 22 with callbacks Jan 24. Since this is an HTG musical, there are no Friday night or Saturday afternoon performances, so the Shabbat-observant are strongly encouraged to come out for the show. And remember, it will be open casting: If you audition, you will be offered a role!

That next week brings more Free Play to the table, with Shakespeares Julius Caesar under the direction of Sam Zelitch 09. Like Thoroughly Modern Millie, this production will not have rehearsals or performances Friday night or during the day Saturday, so those who observe Shabbat are encouraged to audition. Zelitch was drawn to directing a Shakespeare play because although it is not true that Shakespeares plays are unavoidably boring that is the way his plays are often directed, causing many to avoid Shakespeare altogether. As such, the lone cryptic promise he has made about the style of this production is that it will not be boring. In addition to the general Free Play audition, Zelitch has stated that the following night, Jan. 25, he will be having open callbacks (location TBA) where all interested actors are welcome on a come-when-you-can-for-as-long-as-you-can basis. Julius Caesar is tentatively set to be performed Spingolds Merrick Theater March 26-28 with free admission.

Brandeiss Shakespeare theater group Hold Thy Peace keeps the English Renaissance theatre rolling with Christopher Marolowes Doctor Faustus opening as Julius Caesar closes. A timeless story about a man who sells his soul to the devil for knowledge and power, this show promises to tug at some heartstrings. In following the life of one man throughout this play, you cant help but be drawn into his head, said Director Tom Heller 07;

Anyone with a heart will feel for him. Heller also mysteriously added that the production will be a proper blend of ancient and respectable with modern and relevant. Doctor Faustus will run March 28-30 in the Shapiro Theater. Auditions will be Jan. 22-24 in Feldberg Lounge, right next door to the Stein, with callbacks Jan. 25.

After Passover break, the UTC season gets rolling again with Tympanium Euphoriums staging of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapines musical Into the Woods. Into the Woods, director Lindsey Butterfield explained, is essentially a musical compilation on Grimm fairytales as elements in the quest of the baker and his wife to reverse the witchs curse. The first act focuses on this quest and brings in a variety of characters including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack (of beanstalk fame), and Rapunzel, while the second act looks at what actually happens after the happily ever after. Into the Woods will run in the Shapiro Theater April 19-22. Auditions will be Jan. 22-23 with callbacks Jan. 25 and anyone interested in auditioning should be prepared with 16 bars of music. Bonus points if you have your own cow, giant, or 60-foot-long ponytail, quipped Butterfield.

The UTCs spring season will be wrapped up by its oldest group, Boris Kitchen. BK President Joshua Louis Simon 07 prepared the following statement for publication: Boris Kitchen will begin this semester in Kansas in black & white, but eventually, the cast of the Big Spring Show will find itself in a strange mystical land…in Technicolor. The cast (and their pet dog) will travel through this land along a golden path in order to reach an enormous face controlled by a man behind a curtain. During this journey the cast of Boris Kitchens currently unwritten and unnamed BIG SPRING SHOW will stop in Shapiro Theater April 27 and 28 to showcase a whole slew of new, original sketches which they will have spent the earlier part of the semester writing and rehearsing;

as well as deliver a news segment which they will have written the night before at the International House of Pancakes. If you have any questions, please contact Boris: Its whats for dinner.

Free Plays last major show of the semester has been in the works for three years. Its writer and director provided the following information: Greed, written and directed by Will C. [07], is a rap musical that explores the intersection of selfless greed and selfish greed through a series of unfortunate events. An adolescent male wants to help his single mother and little brother eat a satisfactory meal and not tomato soup. This character conspires with his friends to rob a bank, only to find out that things are not as they seem. There will be a post show discussion and refreshments will be served. Greed will run in Spingolds Merrick Theater May 1 and 2. For the Free Play audition Jan. 24, Will recommended that people come ready to give an a cappella rendition of a favorite hip-hop song, bob their heads to some music he will play, and/or do a cold read from the script. Im searching for people confident with their personal rhythm, Will explained.

This is, of course, only a sampling of the theatre that will be hitting the Brandeis campus this semester. The Brandeis Theatre Company will have two productions in Spingolds Laurie Theater: Lanford Wilsons Balm in Gilead Feb. 8-18 and The Dream Project April 19-29. The Festival of the Arts will surely feature some smaller theatrical projects. The UTC and FPTC are both known to lend sponsorship to smaller projects over the course of the semester. In short, there is a whole lot of theatre at Brandeis, surely offering something for everyone;

make sure you dont miss you!

Beck Holden is the producer for Hold Thy Peaces production of Doctor Faustus.