Do not let the curtains fall.
As a result of the current budget cuts, this might be the final chance to experience a theatrical production on the GCC main stage. So, purchase tickets and grab a playbill because no one will want to miss out on this spectacular opportunity.
The theatre arts department chair and director Melissa R. Randel launched “Two on an Island,” on Thursday, March 31st.
Written by Elmer Rice and originally produced in 1940, the play features a multi-threaded love story in set Manhattan during the rough times of the Great Depression.
The play deals with synchronicity as the lead’s John Thompson (Jonathan Tumblin) and Mary Ward (Amanda Fontoura) cross paths repeatedly for more than two years until they finally meet. Featuring heartbeats in every stage of romance, the storybook-like tale proves that in the midst of a daily battle to survive, fantasy and love are infinite.
As the red curtains rise and the lights beam on the actors, eyes light up with excitement as audience members take in the first scene.
Men in trousers and fedoras and women in petticoat dresses and pin curls appropriate to the time period, engulf the stage, creating the atmosphere of a big-city-small-world-play.
The stage set is complex in its simplicity. Adorned with brick buildings, a bridge representing the Statue of Liberty, more than 40 video projections and 100 sound cues; the stage morphs from one backdrop to the next.
Whether it’s a street, studio, sightseeing tour, office, subway car, cafe or taxicab, the location of a specific scene is clear with assistance from not only the technology crew but from the actors as well.
The key ingredient to this type of illusion is body language. At any given point, there is not a single window of space where an actor isn’t in motion – smoking a cigarette, reading the daily news or portraying some kind of peculiar expression like laughing or glaring.
With a cast of 19 actors, each member of the ensemble successfully plays multiple roles. In some scenarios, the actors play polar opposite characters (some as many as seven) while in other cases the actors portray the same character seen earlier in the play.
“A large number of students have something meaty to do onstage so they are not just an ensemble, they are each individuals with their own lives and story lines,” said Randel.
With voice tone variation, body movement and emotion, the characters are believable, proving that acting is not solely memorizing lines. The actors stay in character the whole way through and regardless if a line or cue is missed, the show goes on.
Following the beginning scene, the first act is like a puzzle, leaving the audience with messy unresolved story lines for the major and minor characters.
Munching on a Snickers bar from the concession stand during intermission, one might ponder such questions as, “Will Mary land a job as a lead actress and not just a background extra? Will John ever have his play produced by Lawrence Ormont (Peter Von Sholly)?”
And then when the Big Apple couldn’t become even more complex, it does. The twist ending is skillfully played. Who knew that opening a can of worms could be so entertaining?
The second act is the juicier portion of the play, in which all of the loose ends tie together.
Unlike productions in the past, the scenes flow flawlessly. With the production’s efforts to keep the pace up, the realism of the play is intensified.
Overall, “Two on an Island” is a beautiful show with a very talented cast and crew.
Similar to John and Mary, two young people searching for happiness and success in New York, college students are carving out a new chapter of their lives too, though at GCC.
“You can relate to these characters struggling to make it and sometimes, things are difficult,” said actor Ryan Rogers (Fredric Winthrop).
Unfortunately, the theater department might be slated for cuts in the next fiscal period by reducing plays from two to one per semester, possibly making performances a thing of the past.
“It would be nice to see the budget grow to its former glory to allow more chances for actors to perform, sound, set, lighting, designers to design and writers to write. There is so much to the theatre that people don’t [acknowledge] and many don’t realize that GCC offers a unique opportunity to get students interested in every aspect of the theatre,” said student stage manager Marianne Tomlin.
Although money may not grow on trees, support is never in shortage. Randel would like to thank the production team for TOAI, the co-chair Jeanette Farr and the administrative assistant Nancy Greene for assisting the show.
Following three performances last week, “Two on an Island’ will continue its production in the Auditorium Mainstage Theatre at 8 p.m. on April 7, 8, 9 and 2 p.m. on April 10.
Tickets are $10 for general admission, $6 for students and $4 each for groups of 10 or more. A special senior “Depression Era” rate of $3.50 will be offered for this production only for those 55 and over. Tickets may be purchased at the door or reserved in advance.
For more information, visit www.glendale.edu/theatre or call 818-240-1000, ext. 5612. Free parking is available on campus Friday through Saturday in circle drive beside the auditorium.
“I hope everyone comes to see the show to get a taste of the theatre and enjoy what may be their first experience, last or somewhere in between,” said Tomlin.
What else is new with the theatre arts department? There will be 3 nights of showings from the TA 100/TA 103 classes and TA111 (voice for the actor) on May 17th, 18th and 19th in the studio theatre. It is free of charge and will allow the campus community to see what goes on in some of the core classes.