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Taking on the challenge

November 10, 2012
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - What Southwest Minnesota State University students appreciate about doing a show in the Black Box Theatre is that they handle everything themselves, from the directing to the costume design.

But they also realize that it can be tough to get everything ready for showtime.

The Southwest Minnesota State University drama club is presenting "The Wonder of the World" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 15-17 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, in the SMSU Black Box Theatre. The show is being co-directed by SMSU students Lynn Lafky and Theresa Ehnert.

Lafky said she was first introduced to the comedic play, written by David Linday-Abaire, in an acting class taught by SMSU theater professor Nadine Purvis Schmidt. The play is about a young woman named Cass who finds a "dirty little secret" in her husband Kip's sweater drawer, and she sets off on a journey of self-discovery in Niagara Falls. Lafky was cast in one of the roles and also did a scene from the play in another theater class.

"I got to know it pretty well by the end of the year," Lafky said.

The directing process, which includes casting the show, was tough, Lafky and Ehnert said.

"I'll admit it's been challenging, but it's a fun show," Lafky said.

Ehnert agrees as a first-time director that the task has been a challenge, especially working with everybody's schedule, juggling rehearsals with the mainstage show that was going on at the same time for awhile, and getting everything ready to go.

"I felt very odd at first," Ehnert said, adding that she's only known some of the actors for a year as she's still relatively new to SMSU theater. "I tell them what to do."

"It's a new experience definitely," Lafky said. "I'm kind of teaching her (Ehnert) as we go."

"She didn't want to direct alone," Ehnert said.

The directors said they had around 20 people audition for seven roles.

"(There were) a lot who auditioned who were really great," Lafky said. "It was really hard telling them they didn't get a part."

Fernando Tabares, who is making his debut on the SMSU stage, portrays Kip in the show.

"It's pretty hilarious," Tabares said of the show. He had taken a beginning acting class and thought it was pretty fun, so that's why he decided to audition.

And Lafky will admit that during the rehearsals, a couple of the actors surprised her.

"The actors come up with these great, colorful characters," Lafky said.

Jessa Roberts and Alex Pikala play Glen and Karla, an older couple who are private detectives. Roberts said the script is "different."

"It's got a little bit of everything," Roberts said. "A lot of unexpected things."

It's also very different to portray an older character, the two said.

"It's tough because your first reaction is not to be 'young,'" Pikala said. "They're not spry by any means."

Students said Black Box productions are a way to try new things. Roberts said that it's the first time for some of the tech crew in their various roles, which includes a first-time sound designer and a first-time costume designer.

"I think the Black Box is a great environment to learn in," Roberts said. She said it's not as stressful because it's the students who are doing everything.

"They (the directors) let us be pretty creative with our characters," Pikala said.



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