Feature News

Students work with Chicago theater company in summer production

Aug 22, 2017

Up with the curtain and on with the show! Fourteen North Central College theatre students were selected for understudy and production assistant positions in the 2017 summer production of “Machinal” by Greenhouse Theater Center, as part of the College’s recent collaboration with the organization.

“I’m ecstatic about this collaboration between North Central and Greenhouse,” said Jacob Harvey, artistic director at the theater company. “The core of our mission at Greenhouse is growing Chicago theater, and I believe that starts with opening doors for the next generation.”

There are 10 students fulfilling understudy roles and four working as assistants to various elements of production. The understudies serve as a backup in case any actor or actress cannot perform in the show.

That happened to one North Central understudy, Maddie Burke ’17, who’s now in the principle cast in the ensemble. Another student, Miranda Harris ’17, then stepped in as understudy for Burke.

Being an understudy is not as simple as knowing your lines, said Alexander Poe ’19.

“It’s important to observe and memorize all of the actor’s movements, whether they’re choreographed or unique to the actor,” said Poe. “The performance must be replicated with accuracy and depth; both the other actors on stage and the artistic goals of the show depend on it.”

[Photo, below, of understudies Kellyn Maguire ’18, front; back, from left: Miranda Harris ’18, Cody Talkie ’18, Bridget Adams-King ’19, Alex Moerer ’17]

Behind the curtains are four more North Central students, helping ensure the show runs smoothly. They are assistants in set, costumes, dramaturgy and stage management. Each holds a crucial role in the production of the play.

“The job of the costume designer is to tell the stories of the characters through the visual representation of their clothing,” said Caitlin O’Brien ’19, costume design assistant.

Additionally, O’Brien conducts research on the setting of the play to better understand styles, and works with the lighting designer on color schemes.

Speaking of research, Emily Marrazzo ’18 knows all about that; her job as dramaturgy assistant calls for it. Dramaturgy is the research and oversight of a play’s accuracy and consistency and ensures that a play set in the 1920s looks that way.

“It’s the dramaturge's job to make sure that everything down to the props and costumes appear historically accurate,” said Marrazzo. “My involvement is to assist the dramaturge in any research.”

The professional production of “Machinal” opens Aug. 11 and runs through Sept. 24, with performances Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Performing in the lead role of Mother is North Central’s Associate Professor of Theatre Carin Silkaitis. Click here for tickets and more information.

An understudy performance will take place on the Greenhouse stage, too, providing North Central students their chance to shine.

The students will then take their experience back to the College’s Madden Theatre, where the play will be performed Oct. 5-8 with direction by Silkaitis.

“The students at North Central have proven to be well trained, open hearted and generous in spirit. Their discipline is so evident in the way they approach the work,” said Harvey. “They have risen to this occasion seamlessly and have woven into the professional environment with grace and rigor.”

Other students involved in the summer production are understudies Jake Elkins ’20, Bridget Adams-King ’19, Kellyn Maguire ’18, Alex Moerer ’17, Jack Morsovillo ’17, Sarah Irene Rosenberg ’18, Abigail Schwarz ’20 and Cody Talkie ’17, with Ruby Lowe ’18 as set assistant and Stephen Kossak ’17 as assistant stage manager.

By Caleb Lundquist ’18

[Photo, below: Understudy Maddie Burke ’17 became a member of the principle cast]