OBU Theatre attends KCACTF Region 6 Conference

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor

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Last week, a group of seven OBU students and three faculty and staff members loaded into two vans and drove to Abilene, TX.

They were on their way to attend the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s Region 6 Conference February 23-March 1. The weekend after their return, several of the students shared thoughts about the trip with The Bison via email.

Freshman theatre and accounting double major Emma Greathouse reflected on her first time attending KCACTF Region 6, theatre major Grant McGee described attending the festival for the first time as a junior, and senior theatre major Chase Hendrickson discussed the experience of his fourth time at the conference.

Below are some of their responses, lightly condensed and edited for clarity.

The Bison: What were some of the blessings of going to KCACTF Region 6 this year?

Greathouse: I was able to connect more with the members of the department that also went to KCACTF. Also, I learned many skills that will be incredibly helpful as I continue in a Theatre major such as auditioning skills, stage management skills, and working in a large theatre.

Hendrickson: Personally, I’m glad I was able to go to the festival in the first place. I have been going to KCACTF every year since I was a freshman (and not even a theatre major at the time, but that’s a story for another time). So, I’m glad that I was able to round up my time here at OBU with one more trip.

McGee: My scene partner and I were selected to move on to the semifinal round of Irene Ryan’s, which was simply amazing. We weren’t expecting to move on past the preliminary round. Another blessing was seeing how much everyone was achieving at the festival. I especially liked reuniting with people I hadn’t seen since high school.

The Bison: What were some of the toughest parts of going?

Greathouse: Personally, as part of the Honor Crew, I was required to be there at 6:30 am every morning to help load in and load out shows that were being presented at the festival. While being part of the crew was a blessing, it was hard to run on only a few hours of sleep but still be present that early in the morning. Being mentally present was important because safety is the most important thing and the load ins often involved using the fly system (which can be danger if one is not aware of their surroundings). Overall, it was a positive experience, but it was definitely challenging.

Hendrickson: The toughest part that I have found is making sure to stay on top of the classwork that I am missing by coming to the festival. Since it’s a school-sanctioned event my absences are excused, but I still have to find the time to get it done during some downtime at the festival.

McGee: Irene Ryan’s were definitely difficult, because there was a lot of work to be put into the acting. It was pretty stressful for me, and I lost some sleep because of it.

The Bison: What are some of the things you learned?

Greathouse: I learned many things at the festival this year including operating an automatic fly system, auditioning skills, how to correctly write performance and rehearsal reports (for stage management), and the best recipe for Totally Washable, Non-Toxic Stage Blood.

McGee: I learned just how truly diverse the theatre community is, even among other college students. I also learned that it’s important to be as coordinated with your partner as possible, whether that be in acting or color-coding.

The Bison: Describe something that surprised you about KCACTF Region 6 this year.

Greathouse: Something that surprised me at KCACTF this year was the vastness of backgrounds, talent, and choices made by those around me. There is a huge vastness of talent from our region, and it was surprising and wonderful to see how God blesses humanity with good things, even if the people He blesses are unaware of the fact.

Hendrickson: What surprised me the most was how much easier it was to network at this year’s festival, as compared to previous years. In years prior, the festival was hosted at Angelo State University in San Angelo, TX. And so, you would have various areas where various workshops and competitions would take place, but you were also surrounded by a bunch of normal students that weren’t there for the festival and so it was a lot harder to see someone that you had met earlier in the week. Having it at a convention center meant that we were the only people there and were a lot more compact. So, it was a lot easier to run into people that you had met during the workshop earlier that day, and that is what I experienced this year.

McGee: I was surprised by the sheer amount of people that were at the festival. It was so refreshing to see hundreds of fellow thespians in the convention center. OBU has a relatively small theatre department, so it was crazy to see jus this many more people there could be working on a singular show or representing a university.

The Bison: What was your favorite memory from KCACTF Region 6?

McGee: Watching my close friend, Caleb Frank, perform at the final round of the Musical Theatre Initiative. He sang beautifully and was engaging the audience spectacularly. I was and am very proud of him, especially since he placed third overall!

Greathouse: Three of my favorite memories would be (1) the laughter, pure enjoyment, and fun moments that happened in various workshops, restaurants, and experiences throughout the festival; and (2) the costume parade. OBU was given the opportunity to display three costumes from the fall production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was fun to see reactions from others backstage about the costumes. One woman even asked for a picture before we went on. It made me proud to display the hard work of the costume department and have it appreciated by people who understand the hard work and preparation that goes into each costume. (3) The final memory that I will treasure for a long time is a prayer meeting we had as a department on the second night of the festival. We had just learned that two of our teams had advanced, one to Irene Ryan semifinals and one to MTI finals. We took ten minutes, sat together, and prayed.

Theatre is often looked on as being very liberal and inappropriate, but this week, we were able to show the light of Jesus Christ through our interactions, our character, and our choices.

We wanted to make sure that we had our focus on glorifying God, not ourselves, and it was a sweet moment of unity and togetherness for our team.

The Bison: If you could only say one thing about KCACTF Region 6, what would it be, and why?

McGee: KCACTF is worth the cost. While the trip may cost a bit from your wallet and time away from classes, I say it’s worth it because of how beneficial it is to get involved in the events at the festival. You never know what’s going to happen!

Greathouse: It was a crazy week, it was a hard week, it was an amazing week, and it was worth it.

Dr. Coley guest-directs Three Sisters at OBU

By Olivianna Calmes, Assistant Arts Editor

OBU Theatre department’s next show of the season is coming up at OBU, and auditions have already taken place.  

Three Sisters is guest directed by Dr. David Coley, who used to work at St. Gregory’s University. 

The cast consists of 12 and will be performed April 25th through the 28th. 

Dr. David Coley has a Ph.D. in Theater and has taught at St. Greg’s for 12 years in the theatre department.

He directed and produced shows as well as teaching theatre-related classes. He is friends with OBU’s Director of Theatre Matthew Caron, which is how he got involved with OBU’s theatre program. 

 “When St. Gregs announced they were closing, Matt [Caron] was my first phone call,” Coley said.  

Dr. Coley ended up teaching some classes at OBU, including writing this last fall.  

Last spring Matt [decided he] wanted to do an Anton Checkhov [show] and he knew I really liked Checkhov so he asked me to direct it, and I jumped at the chance,” Coley said. 

Checkhov wrote this show in 1900 and it was based in Moscow, Russia at first. 

Three Sisters was one of Checkhov’s best works, Coley said. The reason he wanted to direct this show in particular is because it showcases a family who is stuck in the midst of societal and cultural change. 

 “I’m always really drawn to stories about people who are victims of history,” he said. They may want this or that but history and culture takes them in a different direction. This family…try as they might, can’t escape the world around them, they are going to be carried along with it. It was written in Russia before the revolution, but Checkhov sensed what was on the horizon. This family has to balance the changes that are happening [all around them]. 

He says that the content of the play has both serious and dramatic elements. 

Checkhov thought his own works were comedies, but most people who watch his shows think they are very serious.  

“[Checkhov] has a very dark strange sense of humor, so that’s something we are going to balance in the show,” Coley said. It is certainly going to play dramatic for many of us but I’m going to try and find that strange levity that he saw, whereas we saw many of these characters as tragic, he saw them as ridiculous, so we’re going to try and balance that.”  

He sees this show as an interesting challenge and is excited to work with OBU to create something unique. 

“The show is in an alley configuration, where the audience sits in both sides of the stage, and I am excited to experience what this show has to offer,” Platter said.

This is different than the last show, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that debuted in February. Another unique part of this show will be the music. 

One of my favorite things to do as a director is to pick the soundtrack, I have some interesting ideas for that,” Coley said. I am [also] looking forward to working with the actors here because they are a very talented bunch. 

Bailey Platter, a sophomore double major in Theatre and Student Ministry, has just been cast in the show and is especially looking forward to participating. 

I’m excited for this show because it will be challenging and will stretch me as an actor because it is realism and Russian,” Platter said. I’ve always wanted to be in a Checkov play, and I am thrilled to have this opportunity.”  


‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ comes to OBU

By Olivianna Calmes, Assistant Arts Editor

The OBU theatre department continues in their season “Awakened by a Dream” in 2019 with a zany, mysterious and mad musical. 

The much-loved story of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll is showcased in its own special way at OBU. 

The musical, directed by assistant professor of theatre and director of theatre Matthew Caron, will debut for one weekend and take place in the Craig-Dorland theatre located in Shawnee hall, February 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. and February 17 at 2:30. To purchase tickets, visit okbu.edu/theatre, call (405)-585-4350, or visit Sarkeys building Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4pm. 

The story follows Alice as she falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in a magical fantasy world where everything seems mad. She goes on a series of adventures and meets some crazy characters like the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Cheshire cat, the Queen of Hearts, and more. She must make sure the Queen does not cut off her head. 

The show will not only be shown to the public but also have private matinees for children in Shawnee the week leading up to the show.  

“We are delighted to present Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland not only to give OBU students the opportunity to create this curious and chaotic world, but to provide children in the community the opportunity to explore this world with us,” Caron said. “It is our hope that kids of all ages will be enchanted by its music, madness and mystery, and not only enjoy a captivating retelling of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale but deepen an appreciation for the art of theatre itself.” 

Music plays a big part in making this production, and OBU is proud to present and incorporate some original compositions of OBU professor of music Dr. James Vernon. 

“Setting the words for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was challenging, requiring creativity of different sorts – I did not know who would be playing certain parts, how well they could sing, and what ranges I could expect to encounter,” Vernon said. “[I] hope it contributes to audience appreciation for what these marvelous actors are attempting to portray.” 

Alice will be played by senior theatre major McKenzie Reece, the White Rabbit will be played by sophomore theatre and cross cultural ministry major Bayleigh Platter and the Mouse and Cheshire Cate will be played by junior communications major Court Haygarth.  

Haygarth said that the show is short and sweet, only running about an hour and a half, but filled with laughs and mysterious characters. 

He talked about the show and the aesthetics, describing the costumes as “very loud.  

“All the costumes have a Victorian look,” Haygarth said. “The mouse costume is a one-piece swimsuit with cut off sleeves and midshorts. We bought a onesie and Alyssa, the [costumes coordinator] made a Victorian swimsuit out of it. For the Cheshire cat’s costume, I am wearing a huge blue and purple tail, tie, and ears. It is very furry, extravagant and loud” 

He said it has been hard deciding how the Cheshire cat is for this show, considering that the animated version and the Tim Burton-directed film have different portrayals. 

“It’s definitely been a challenge,” Haygarth said. “How do I make him my own, while still making him familiar enough for the people who know the story of Alice? I went with more the Tim Burton approach, which is more on the mysterious side rather than the quirky side seen in the animated movie.”  

Haygarth said he’s liked getting to explore his character. He also mentioned how fun he finds the show in general.  

“I love the mystery and the silliness about [this show],” He said. “You’re going to laugh a lot and you’re supporting local theater…it’s great fun for everyone” 

For those interested in going with Alice on her adventures in wonderland this weekend, and make sure to get seats as soon as possible.  

OBU Theatre presents Shakespeare’s comedy: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ using aerials, magical lighting

By Morgan Jackson, Assistant Arts Editor

Thursday, Nov. 1, OBU Theatre opened their production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare.

Performances continue this week through Nov. 11.

The premise of the show is complex and whimsical: four lovers Hermia and Demetrius, Lysander and Helena get themselves mixed up in some magical affairs in the course of one eventful night.

As they attempt to unravel their romantic (and later somewhat otherworldly) complexities, the audience shares the experience–in all its glory.

The success of the play can certainly be characterized by both the casts’ performances and the set construction itself.

For example, OBU Theatre’s production of the play is characterized by very impressive technical elements including the lighting and costuming.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the show, aside from the character choices made by the actors, is the entirety of the experience.

It is something best appreciated in person, but for those who might not be able to make it to the show: the set is a forest made up of picturesque light and a giant set of rocks (see right).

The lighting design featured various hues of yellow, green and blue to create a magical atmosphere of the forest.

The audience’s first impression when walking into the Craig-Dorland Theatre is the sound of thematic music playing and the full view of the set.

This setting mirrors the plot of the play: simple yet nuanced, light and layered.

Senior Scott Roberts designed the set, and Alyssa Couturier, professor Jake Yenish, Chase Hendrickson, Emily Coley, Adam S. McCollough, Jesse Couturier-Herndon, Maritza Jaimes, Taylor Benjamin, Kelsi Guleserian, Kendra Johnson, Lillias McManus, Emily Kustka and Court Haygarth all served as technicians who brought that design to life.

In the opening of the play, the audience learns what becomes the primary struggle throughout the majority of the production: Hermia is in love with Lysander, but her father wants her to marry Demetrius, which creates the opportunity for magical beings to get involved.

Two very powerful fairies are key components of the play; Oberon and Titania rule the magical forest together. In this production, Oberon and Titania are played by Arthur Schwab and Meghan Haynes. They each gave an excellent performance and created chemistry between the characters.

The duo also completed a beautiful dance number, choreographed by Amy Nevius, toward the end of the show.

Titania’s fairy peers include Alexandra Frank as Peaseblossom, Erin Loyd as Cobweb, Rachel Campbell as Moth, Anna Smolen as Mustardseed and Emma Greathouse as Mushroom.

Additionally, other actors create a quality cast.

Lillias McManus plays Peter Quince, Cara Burnet is Snug, Kendra Johnson is Robin Starvelin and Samuel Hawkins is Tom Snout.

Grant McGee plays Nick Bottom, and Garrett Wheeler plays his counterpart, Francis Flute.

Chase Hendrickson is Theseus, Larashleigh Wallace is Hippolyta, Caleb Frank is Egeus and Kimberlie McCutcheon plays Philostrate.

With such a full and robust cast, this ideation of the comedy is multifaceted and entertaining.

The show is also filled with bittersweet moments between Hermia and Lysander, played by Bayleigh Platter and Noble Adams-Nabors.

Their performance exuded a youthful energy and power in both their speech and movement.

Anna Tyler delivered a very believable performance of Helena.

She was absolutely wonderful and was so obviously committed to her role; every line she delivered was filled with energy and dedication to the character.

All the actors expertly played into the relationships that unfold throughout the performance.

In the play, a group of ac-tors work together to create a new play for the wedding of the king and queen.

This acting troupe is essential to the storyline and provides excellent comedy during some of the more tense moments in the show.

The groups’ comedic timing and commitment to their odd characters made these scenes some of the standouts of the evening.

Also absolutely essential to the show is Puck, a playful sprite played by McKenzie Reece.

Reece’s physicality in this production is one of the most impressive facets of the production. She leapt and sprint-ed across the stage, making Puck an interesting and believable forest sprite.

Puck also plays a vital role in some of the mischief that ensues in the forest.

Other imp-like characters include Moss, played by Adam S. McCollough, and Vines, played by Zachary Hill.

Another impressive element of the show involved aerial performances by members of the cast, especially the dark and light fairies.

Aerial silks were suspended above the set and allowed for the creation of beautiful, almost ethereal movements.

Such an addition definitely enhanced the overall magical quality of the forest setting and created a unique interpretation of Shakespeare’s sprites.

Other production assistants who contributed to the performance are Amy Nevius, Ashley Hontz, Angel Goodrich, Katelyn Onkst, Emily Ramos, Mackenzie Camp, Autumn Morris, Brianna Lincoln and Joshua Brunet.

This production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” runs through Nov. 11. Ticket prices for general admission, and only 5 dollars for students. For ticket information, visit okbu.edu/theatre

Sixth annual New Works Festival debuts Sept. 14

By Morgan Jackson, Assistant Arts Editor

It is not often that student playwrights get the opportunity to see their characters come to life. In an effort by OBU Theatre and The College Players, many students get to showcase their talents in a new way.
The New Works Festival is in its sixth year at OBU. It showcases the talent of student writers, directors and actors. This year, four short plays written by three different writers will be presented at the Sarkeys Black Box Theater Friday, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Each of the works being presented were chosen blindly by a selected committee. The names of the playwrights were removed from the submissions prior to the committee reading them.
“Committee members then rank them and send me the rankings. I compile the rankings and select the top-ranked plays to be presented at the festival,” assistant professor of theatre Matthew Caron said.
The night is especially focused on the content of the scripts and will include brief audience feedback sessions with the playwright following each play.
“While the acting, directing and technical elements will no doubt be compelling, the focus on the evening is on the words of the playwright.” Caron said.
Three students will have their scripts on display at this year’s festival.
Writer Garrett Wheeler had two plays selected for the festival: Confined and Don’t Forget.
“Confined” is the story of “two brothers in prison talking about why they’re there,” and “Don’t Forget” is about a man looking back on his life with his family after he passes away,” Wheeler said.
Both of Wheeler’s plays explore themes regarding familial relationships.
Inspiration for “Confined” struck while Wheeler was on a trip with his English class. Wheeler also stated that he was partially inspired by the video game “A Way Out” which has a similar setting and situation. The game involves teamwork between characters to escape prison.
“It was a cool concept that I wanted to take in a different direction,” Wheeler said.
His play “Don’t Forget” was “very loosely inspired by [his] grandfather.”
Grant McGee had a play chosen for this year’s New Works Festival titled “A Most Inconvenient Visitor.”
It is about a literature professor who is visited by the angel of death.
“He has a conversation with death over a game of cards,” said McGee.
McGee drew inspiration from various literature and said that biblical themes or allusions are present in his play.
McGee said one of the most important messages in his play is that people should “allow themselves to enjoy life outside of the distractions that we may have, even if those distractions are for our benefit.”
The final student playwright is Chase Hendrickson. His play “Quitter” is based on actual events and utilizes transcription of events that occurred on the day his play is set on.
“It’s a tough play, but I feel like it’s very meaningful. I wrote it so that people will feel something. What they feel when they watch it is up to them. It’s a story that needs to be told and deserves to be told,” Hendrickson said.
Themes of “Quitter” include the importance of showing love to people, and “viewing people as whole people with thoughts and dreams and motivations,” Hendrickson said.
This event highlights the talent and creativity of many OBU students. Students are in charge of every aspect of each show. Students are also directing the plays.
“Live performance is and has been a powerful source of social change throughout history. I think it is essential for our OBU students to learn to engage a diverse world through the medium of playwriting,” Caron said.
The New Works Festival was started by The College Players. Each year, they work together with the OBU Theatre Department to assist in the production of the festival. This year, they will be handling front of house roles for the festival.
“Joining the College Players is a great way to be a part of the theatre department without being a theatre major,” Ashley Hontz, president of College Players, said.
“We help the theatre department in any way that we can as well as having events such as Karaoke Nights and Variety Shows.”
The New Works Festival will be presented at the Sarkeys Black Box Theater Friday, September 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Festival of Fools Improv is growing

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor  (Courtesy photo/The Bison)

Festival of Fools, the OBU improv troupe, is expanding their number of performances.

May 4-5 will be the second time they will offer two shows back to back sharing the same theme.

Bayleigh Platter, Hunter Vicars and Garrett Wheeler are three freshman theatre students who have been part of Festival of Fools since the Fall 2017 semester.

Q: Why did you join Festival of Fools?

Platter: “I went to the first show that they had to recruit, and they just looked like they were having so much fun onstage and you could tell that they were like a family and the way they interacted with each other and I was really excited about that. I just felt really led to be a part of Festival of Fools.”

Hunter: “I had absolutely no intent of joining improv after I saw the show but then one of the captains was like you should try out and I did and here I am and I love it.”

Wheeler: “I saw that there was an improv troupe at OBU. I thought ‘wow, they’re doing improv here, that’s so cool. I have to get in on this.”

Q: What is one thing you’ve learned from your first year in Festival Fools?

Hunter: “What you’ve got is what you’ve gotta to run with; whatever idea you have, you take it and you do what you can with it. And I’ve applied that not just to improv but to classes as well.”

Platter: “I’ve always struggled with confidence. And so like from where I started improv to where I am now my confidence has grown immensely. And that’s not just in improv, that’s like with auditions for theatre, that’s in my grades, and how I look at myself in the morning. Like confidence all around has just boosted extremely because of the people that surround me in improv, the people who support me.”

Wheeler: “It’s probably a teamwork aspect. […] I tend to just kind of act as someone who’s trying to carry everyone, but improv has shown me that it is definitely a team effort. I rely on my scene partner as much as they rely on me. And it’s definitely a yin and yang situation and that’s what makes scenes, as well as life, interesting and work.”

Q: How is the new two-show format been different?

Wheeler: “You kind of know what to expect and not know what to expect at the same time, if that makes sense. You walk in and you kind of know ‘okay I kind of know where we’re going to go’ in terms of what exact we’re going to do but what exactly is going to happen it’s just like no idea, and I feel like that’s really the thrill of having two nights. Each night is such a different environment.”

Hunter: “The back-to-back was really scary at first because with any show that your doing in the theatre world you have to keep the energy up, especially in improv because it’s such an energy involved show that we give. […] The second night you go in and you have to go in with the mindset that you have that same amount of energy because you want to give your best for the audience and for your fellow teammates because if your not giving your best your not making them look good and that’s your ultimate goal is to make your scene partners look better.

Although the shows share the same theme and games, they will still remain quite different.

Rather than a script, the performances will use improvisation games to provide a format.

Festival of Fools fans could attend both nights without seeing very many of the same jokes.

“I would encourage people to come both nights,” Platter said. “I think if you go just one
night that’s fine, but I think it’s very important to remember that it is improv so nothing will be the same. It will be the same format but genuinely when you watch improv you’re not thinking about the format of the game, you’re thinking about the content of what’s being said. And genuinely if you come both nights, it will be two different shows. It’ll be two different feelings, two different emotions, two different atmospheres.”

The shows will be in Sarkeys Black Box, Friday, May 4, 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 5, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $2 and popcorn $1.

Final theatre production of the year entertains audiences: Mystery ‘A Murder is Announced’ to run through April 29

By Payton Clark, Social Media Editor

Little Paddocks, the boarding house in the town of Chipping Cleghorn is in chaos and you will never guess what happens. No spoilers here; just go watch it!

OBU Theatre’s production of “A Murder is Announced,” adapted from the novel by Agatha Christie, opened this past Friday, April 20 to start a two-weekend run continuing until Sunday, April 29. Shows continue this weekend with times at 7:30 p.m. April 26-28, and a 2:30 p.m. showing April 29.

Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults at okbu.edu/theatre or at the Sarkeys Box Office.

This murder mystery is full of humor, grief and, most of all, suspense as the audience pieces clues together to solve the crime in true “whodunit” fashion.

When a murder is announced in the local paper, said to occur at the boarding house of main character Ms. Blacklock, friends and residents turn against one another as they search for the killer.

As the last production of the year, OBU Theatre has outdone themselves again with a play full of talented actors, as well as talented designers and managers alike.

Senior theatre major Brenna Bergeron, playing Ms. Blacklock, shows poise and encouragement as she tries to keep her family and friends safe from the missing criminal.

Bergeron excellently portrays a strong-minded and motivated woman and is definitely a must-watch character in the show.

A favorite and unlikely duo, Ms. Marple and Inspector Craddock, are played by senior and junior theatre majors Lizzie Grimes and Chase Hendrickson.

Together, these two serve as just one of many comedic reliefs with their incessant bickering, and work well together on stage to create a fun dynamic.

Ultimately, their characters come together to solve the crime, and Grimes and Hendrickson make it look so easy!

The rest of the ensemble cast played by seniors Lara Gatton as Mrs. Swettenham and Hannah Lounsbery as Dora Bunner (Bunny), junior Anna Tyler as Julia Simmons, sophomores Courtlin Haygarth as Patrick Simmons and Kendra Johnson as Phillipa Haymes and freshmen David Goforth as Sergeant Mellors/Rudi Scherz, Amber Rodriguez as Mitzi and Garrett Wheeler as Edmund Swettenham shines as characters work together seamlessly to make sure you really never figure it out.

From one clue to the next, the actors skillfully portray their characters, either assuring or confusing your sleuthing skills until the last moment.

Another important aspect of the play, set design and props, serves to further aid the audience in their crime-solving endeavors.

Created by Scott Roberts (scenic designer) and McKenzie Reece (props designer), the whole team behind this work wonderfully spun together the details of the play’s setting and tone with clues to the murder itself.

Not only are the actors a major part of this murder-mystery, but so is the set, giving the audience every clue to the mystery without spoiling the plot. But will you solve the crime?

Costume design is an aspect of theatre production that is always at the forefront of the show, but never the audience’s mind.

However, the costume team led by Rachel Stine did a wonderful job at creating nice costumes that not only represented the time period and setting of the show beautifully, but also worked toward solving the crime. This production is all in, and everything
is a clue! (Don’t worry, I caught that inverted costume action at the end, guys.)

With an excellent team of actors, designers, managers and directors behind it, “A Murder is Announced” is a perfect and brilliant ending to a great season of OBU Theatre.

Audiences will be on the edge of their seats until the final scene trying to solve this crime, and they probably won’t!

With another weekend of shows, this production is a great way to take a break from the busyness of the spring semester before finals begin, so grab a friend and get your tickets before it sells out! Happy sleuthing!

OBU Theater to present Agatha Christie’s “A Murder is Announced”

By Payton Clark, Social Media Editor

In the fall, “The Addams Family” brought OBU audiences dark humor and catchy tunes to ring in Halloween. In February, “Defying Gravity” broke hearts and inspired viewers simultaneously. What can possibly cap off this incredible season of shows from the OBU Theater department?

For two weekends in April, OBU Theatre will present “A Murder is Announced”, a murder mystery play adapted from the novel by Agatha Christie. The show will be in Craig Dorland Theater on April 19-20 and 26-28 at 7:30 p.m., as well as show times on April 22 and 29 at 2:30. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office in Sarkeys Telecommunications Center and online at okbu.edu/theatre at $12 for adults and $5 for students.

Set in Little Paddox, a boarding house in the fictional town of Clipping Cleghorn, England, the play follows the house’s owner Mrs. Blacklock and town members. A mysterious advertisement in the local paper claims that “a murder is to take place at Little Paddox at 7:30 p.m. today,” causing chaos and sleuthing among the locals.

“It gets crazy and interesting, and it’s definitely a whodunit type murder mystery. You try to figure out who’s who, who’s lying, who’s who they say they are, so it’s a lot of fun,” stage manager Grace Wohlschlegel said. “The location doesn’t change, we’re just in this box house, so everything is contained and integral to that space. There’s a lot of
mystery and intrigue, so you want to pay attention to the details.”

Being the final show of the OBU Theater department’s season, senior theater major Lizzie Grimes, who plays the elderly amateur detective Miss Marple, believes this production is the perfect combination of this season’s shows.

“This show combines the dark humor of The Addams Family Musical with the genuine
love of Defying Gravity and then adds its own flair of British mystery,” senior theater major Lizzie Grimes said.

Grimes told audiences to anticipate lightheartedness and above all, mystery.

“Audiences can expect mystery, intrigue, and suspense with some laughs and love sprinkled in between,” Grimes said.

Of all the aspects of the show, Wohlschlegel is most excited to watch the audience try to figure out the murder mystery themselves.

“Obviously I know the ending and I know all of the things throughout the show that are meant to deceive the audience and make them think about who did it, so it will be really interesting to see if they get it right, to hear the dialogue about their thoughts,” Wohlschlegel said. “It will spark a lot of good conversation among audience members just through the nature of the show, because it’s a bit interactive.”

After starting the season with the fun music and dance-filled “The Addams Family”, followed by the more somber “Defying Gravity”, which discusses the Challenger disaster, Wohlschelgel said that “A Murder is Announced it a good balance between silly and serious.

“It’s a lot of personal dynamics, not as much spectacles that you’d get with musicals, but a lot of really strong characters who are interesting and have depth,” Wohlschlegel said.
“You do have serious moments discussing difficult family dynamics, death and getting old, relatable topics but a lot of the characters are happy people enjoying life so there’s a lot of lightness in the seriousness as the play progresses.”

According to guest director and OBU alumni Connor Gilbert, the last mystery play produced by the department was “A Woman in Black” during the 2007-2008 season.

“While there have been many amazing and stimulating productions for theatre students in the past decade, this specific play challenges our students to explore what makes a murder mystery different from other dramatic or comedic works,” Gilbert said. “As director, I can promise that our audience members will enjoy all the twists and
turns awaiting them.”

With a cast and crew full of current or former OBU students Wohlschlegel has enjoyed the experience of working with creative and hardworking peers.

“Our director is an alum that has come back to direct, and I’ve been his stage manager before so it’s nice to get to work with him again. All of our designers for the show are students, not faculty or guest designers, which is wonderful,” Wohlschlegel said.

“It’s been fun with first-time designers watching them figure out the process and have good insightful ideas and experiences. The cast for the show is a really great group of people that have good attitudes, want to be there and are working very hard so it’s a great environment to be a part of.”

The cast includes freshmen David Goforth, Amber Rodriguez and Garrett Wheeler, sophomores Courtlin Haygarth and Kendra Johnson, juniors Chase Hendrickson and Anna Tyler, and seniors Brenna Bergeron, Lara Gatton, Elizabeth Grimes and Hannah Lounsbery.

Win/Lose/Draw Capstone March 10

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor  (Courtesy photo/The Bison)

External friendship hides an inner turmoil of competitive energy in “Little Miss Fresno,” one of three plays by Ara Watson and Mary Gallagher together titled “Win/Lose/Draw.” Elizabeth Grimes and Brenna Bergeron will perform “Win/Lose/Draw” as part of their senior capstone project.

The performance will be held in Sarkeys Black Box Theatre at 7 p.m. March 10. It features excerpts from the other two plays in the compilation, “Final Placement” and “Chocolate King,” as well as a scene from “Little Miss Fresno.”

“Final Placement” tells the story of a social worker (Brenna) who fights with an abusive mother (Grimes). The final scene from “Chocolate King” shows the struggle of body issues and the negative impact of the way society views food.

All graduating theatre majors are required to craft a capstone under the guidance of OBU’s theatre faculty. Students choose a project that allows them to display what they have learned in their concentration area. Bergeron and Grimes both selected acting as their focus and began thinking about the production about a year ago.

“Acting gives me an insight into other peoples’ lives and shows me how to better love those people,” Bergeron said. “It’s made me even more of an empathetic person, and as a Christian artist, that is a strong calling that I feel.”

Originally each of the actors had considered doing a separate performance, but they decided that their work would be stronger together.

“Lizzy and I were talking about it one day, and we both had expressed interest in wanting to do a one-woman show,” Bergeron said. “And we, Lizzie and I, have worked together since freshman year. My very first scene, even though it was in a class, was with Lizzie, and ever since then we’ve played opposite each other a lot and so it was kind of this mutual thing where we were like, yeah, we want to do a one-woman show and then we were like, why don’t we do a two-woman show.”

The decision to perform segments of “Win/Lose/Draw,” was a gradual process.

“I came across ‘Win/Lose/Draw’ and I was like, oh, this is kinda interesting,” Grimes said. “I read through it and I was like, ‘I think this one has potential.’ Brenna read through it and she was like, ‘Yeah I really like it.;’ And so, we kept our feelers out for anything else, but we both were really drawn to ‘Win/Lose/Draw,’ so it just sort of happened.”

If the fascinating attention to detail of Bergeron and Grime’s past work in numerous OBU theatre productions is any indication of what will come on March 10, they will take their audience from laughing to crying, and back again.

OBU Theater at Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival conference

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor  (Courtesy Photo/The Bison)

This past week, Feb. 27-Mar. 3, a portion of the students and faculty of Oklahoma Baptist University’s theatre program participated in numerous segments of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Region Six conference.

OBU reprised their rendition of the musical number “Tango de Amor” from “The Addams Family” to rousing applause at the Evening of Invited Scenes performance.

The selection included Caleb Schantz as Gomez Addams, McKenzie Reece as Morticia Addams and Brenna Bergeron, Sarah Smith, Tori Smith, Harmony Dewees, Chase Davis, Grant McGee, Garrett Wheeler, Joel Tetmey-er, Anna Tyler and Hunter Vicars as the Add-am’s Ancestors.

Three of the costumes from the dance reappeared in the festival’s costume pa-rade, modeled by Brenna Bergeron, Tori Smith and Hunter Vicars.

Director of theatre and professor Matthew Caron served the festival as an Irene Ryan responder, attending several segments of the Irene Ryan acting competition and providing feedback to the students who compete.

Some students who participated in KCACTF came for the opportunity to view the numerous theatre performances from across the region and to benefit from the event’s many workshops.

“Regardless of whether or not they compete, attending the conference is beneficial for students,” Caron said. “The festival is home to workshops, competitions and performances highlighting work from all areas of theatre: acting, directing, management, design, dance and journalism. Even though there are competitions, the main point of the festival is to celebrate the work of college students from around the nation.”

KCACTF Region Six offers OBU students the chance to interact with the rest of the theatrical community in Texas, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas.

“I’ve always enjoyed getting to hone my craft and be together with people who have similar interests as me,” junior theatre major and music minor Chase Hendrickson said.

However, some of the workshops and performances offered at the conference may raise ethical questions for students.

“The biggest challenge for OBU students is the content of many of the works,” Caron said. “OBU students are exposed to plays that deal with many contemporary, liberal issues. This can often times be shocking to students, yet, in my opinion, it serves a greater purpose.”

“It is important for students to know what kinds of works are out there. It is important for them to know the kind of world theatre is. Once they are armed with this knowledge, they can better serve as lights for Christ.”

“Theatre, like so many other secular realms of society, is essentially one big mission field. I think that [those] witnessing the ‘bad’ things about KCACTF are better equipped to not only minister to people, but it also helps them to better understand and strengthen their personal relationship with Jesus.”

Seeing troubling themes and subject matter in the workshops invites OBU students to wrestle with reconciling their profession as theatre artists with their calling as Christians.

“It highlights the need for Christians in the theatre world–there is a lot of spiritual darkness in the theatre world,” Caron said. “Attending a festival like this makes the darkness evident. I think that students can then make two choices: to NOT pursue a career in theatre based on what the world is ‘really like,’ or they can actively seek to be a light for Christ in a world that shuns and dismisses him.”

Although students face the challenge of reconciling differing viewpoints that might be presented in the workshop, they gain the benefit of learning about areas of theatre that they may not have been able to study otherwise.

“While I have been at KCACTF this week, I have learned several new styles of directing. I also have had the pleasure to meet very many talented individuals that competed alongside in the Design, Tech and Management Program,” senior theatre major Scott Roberts said.

KCACTF Roberts' Design presentation
(Courtesy Photo/The Bison) Roberts presents his award-winning design work at KCACTF

Two of OBU’s students, theatre majors Schantz and Reece, received the nomination to compete in the Irene Ryan competition and performed prepared scenes alongside non-competing scene partners, fellow theatre majors Caleb Frank and Brenna Bergeron, for the panel of judges at the festival.

Theatre majors Chase Hendrickson, Shantz and Reece competed in the Musical Theatre Initiative.

Reece also participated in KCACTF’s Musical Theatre Initiative Dance competition, alongside fellow students Bergeron and Tori Smith. All three dancers advanced to the final round of Region 6.

Scot Roberts and Grace Wohlschlegel exhibited their design, worked and competed in KCACTF’s Design, Tech, and Management Program. Roberts was awarded a Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas Award for Excellence in Technology and Design, and the Excellence in Non-Realized Scenic Design Award for his non-realized scenic design for the “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.”

Attending KCATF gave students the chance to show what they had learned to the larger theatre community, compete in their areas of specialization, and study under multiple theatre industry experts.