Theatre department performs “The Curious Savage”

Darla Shaler, Campus Currents

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After months of preparation the theatre department proudly presented their mainstage play The Curious Savage, attracting parents, faculty, and students to a night of laughter, mystery, and a thought-provoking story.
Performed for the public on November 9 and 10, The Curious Savage featured 19 actors and 11 crew members sharing the story of a woman who was wrongly put in an asylum by her stepchildren.

“Her (Ethel’s) quirkiness was really easy for me to attach myself to. The character herself is so kind and so sweet that it was very rewarding to be her,” said senior Rose Johnson who played the lead role of Ethel Savage.

After Ethel’s husband dies and leaves her ten million dollars, Ethel’s three stepchildren Samantha (Sicily Stull), Lily (Gwendolyn Roland), and Titus (Michael Padial) throw her in a psychiatric ward in hopes of securing her money.
At first, Ethel despises the asylum and tries to escape, but soon thereafter she begins to love the residents–quirks and all.

Ethel befriends Fairy May (Parker Guarisco), a free-spirited compulsive liar, Jeffrey (Chance Fillastre), the man hiding an invisible scar, Florence (Makaylee Secrest), the woman with an imaginary child, Hannibal (Nic Eberly), the not-so-skilled violinist, Mrs. Paddy (Meghan Walker), a silent woman who only speaks when she says what she hates, and Miss Wilhelmina (Alyse Gibson), an asylum director.

“It was important to me that they portray the characters with warmth and dignity rather than caricatures,” said theatre teacher and director Cristin Ponjuan. The play showed themes of self-discovery and breaking out of one’s comfort zone, and Ponjuan challenged her students to find the humor in each character.

“It’s a beautiful and important story to tell, and I am so proud of the kids,” Ponjuan said.

Ethel’s trickery, the residents’ odd quirks, and the stepchildren’s arrogance had the audience in fits of laughter throughout the performance. Even after a brief intermission, audience members hurried back to their seats for Act II.

The plot concluded with Ethel warding away her step children from finding her money and her finally being released from the ward. Ethel realizes she has come to love the residents and the peace and comfort of not worrying about the rest of the world. However, she knows she cannot isolate herself forever and leaves to face her future and the outside world.

When the final curtain closed, the actors in the curtain call were met with a screaming audience, and confetti fell from the balcony.

If anyone missed this mainstage production, the musical Into the Woods will be on the mainstage in the spring.

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