Jim Amidon — It’s been a busy fall, so I guess I hadn’t noticed it was again time for the "studio one-act plays" to be performed. So when Denis Farr sent out the campus announcement, it caught me off guard. As it turns out, the one-acts were ditched in place of a full-scale production mounted entirely by senior theater majors.
I wanted to draw some attention to the work of the seniors, so I sneaked in Monday night to snap some photos. What I saw was collaboration among students — without faculty or staff involvement — that knocked my socks off. In the green room, Denis was leading a cast meeting and the actors were respectfully listening to him. Back stage Don Claxon was making last minute adjustments to the set. Everyone was in make-up and costume and ready to go. The dress rehearsal began right on time.
What I saw in the next hour or so had me glued to my seat. I planned only to stay long enough to get a few pictures. I couldn’t leave until it was over. The Vietnamization of New Jersey is NOT an easy play. The themes and characters are difficult and complex, yet the performances are excellent. And I suspect the timing of the delivery of lines — already quite good — will only get better with every passing night through Friday.
I knew Matt McKay was in the show; I did not know the guy trained in stage fighting would play the mother. I knew Rey Pacheco (that’s him above) was in the play; I didn’t expect his hilarious performance as the family’s (female) maid. Think The Bird Cage and you begin to get the idea. But the show is caustic and it does make you think hard between laughs.
As a former theater student at Wabash, I’m proud of the work of this year’s senior class — they really did bring down the house. And that was only at dress rehearsal. In a week filled with talk of football, make sure you catch this play.