The 10th Anniversary for TRANSMIGRATION at CCM featured a variety of theatrical experiences, including one of the most powerful and smart plays I’ve seen in some time. Every year, the students in the Acting Department are placed in random groups and have four weeks to completely devise an original work including script, tech, sets, and more. Often a mixed bag, this year’s selections seemed more focused that in the past.
I’ll describe and review each in the order that I experienced them. (Photos by Richard Hess.)
EVERYMAN – This comic take on theology and death featured Annie Jacques as a woman – or an “everyman” – about to face The Almighty (Graham Rogers in a cocktail dress and glitter-beard) delivered by “Death” (James Egbert.). Rounding out the cast are shallow her shallow best friend (Madison Pullman), her same-age-as-her stepmother (Gabriella DiVincenzo), a wise wax-specialist (Paige Jordan) crazy neighbor, Ned (Jason Pavlovich), and Alexa-come-to-life (Carissa Cardy.). Ridiculous as it was redemptive, the storytelling and well-timed humor left the audience satisfied.
POWDER TRAIN – This is one of the best devised works I’ve seen in a very long time. Timely, pointed, and razor-sharp, the ensemble touched on topics of racism, gun violence, media consumption, and sexual harassment with wit and a take-no-prisoners approach. It was weird, but accessible and the sound design was remarkable. Outstanding all the way around. Cast included Carlee Coulehan, Frankie Chuter, Michelle Jardine, Briley Oakley, Abby Palen, Madeleine Page-Schmit, Landon Hawkins, Rupert Spraul.
NIGHTLIGHT – This was a full-fledged musical, with a pretty score and a heart-tugging story. Lucy (Erin Wallace) was in the hospital being cared for by her doctor (a quality leading man, Will Clark). Her mother, (the elegant Ella Eggold), is worried about her and bring some drawings from childhood to cheer her up. In the box she finds pictures of superheroes (Chandler Hoffert, Gaby Medina, and Amanda Nelson) she created who then come to life and battle the evil Eclipse to a fulfilling climax. Writing a musical – especially for acting students in a school ranked nationally for Musical Theatre – is ambitious. It was well done. Isaac Hickox-Young, Gema Ibarra, and Mafer Del Real also are credited for their work on this project.
PRICE OF ADMISSION – Directed by senior Josh Reiter, this circus-themed play focused more on family dynamics than it did clowning around. There was some humor, but high drama, too. A strong cast all around, I especially enjoyed the performances of Sarah Durham, Chandler Bates, and Nick Heffelfinger. Well staged, well paced, and good use of the room. Another winner! Also credited: Cameron Nalley, Olivia Buss, Lucas Prizant, and Matt Fox.
UNDERNEATH PAOLI, ARIZONA – This unusual (even by Transmigration standards) production included a field trip to the basement of CCM to a loading dock where it was never quite clear what was happening. And even at the conclusion, you were left to wonder what “the work” they were doing was. Regardless, it was highly entertaining and immersive without being uncomfortable. This hard-working cast definitely got their work out during the production with a lot of yelling, running around, and physicality. I enjoyed it very much! Featuring Reid Robison, Trey Peterson, Sierra Coachman, Duncan Weinland, Jeremy Maislin, Jack Steiner, Jacqueline Daaleman, Kenzie Clark, and Lauren Carter.
FLIPPING CHANNELS – Inspired by “Dora the Explorer,” this “meta” production was often silly mixed with terrifying moments. The audience was laughing throughout even when it wasn’t quite clear what was going on. Dan DeGroh stole the show with his performance as a goat, while Carter LaCava and Graham Lutes hammed it up as a couple of incompetent baddies. Jabari Carter as “Cooper Compass” was also a highlight, while “Molly Traveler” (Zoe Cotzias) anchored the show. Director Olivia Passafiume kept the action moving and injected the right balance of comedy, mystery, and mayhem. Also credited: Canaan Bracey, Sydney Miles, Kayla Temshiv, and Meg Olson.
All the shows felt tighter, fresher, and higher quality than in years past. Kudos to all involved including producers Richard Hess and Brant Russell on a tremendous festival!
Next up for CCM Acting: an original production for the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival presented at CCM on March 23rd at 2:00pm and 7:00pm. Click here for more information.