The Whole Shebang

And the Universe gets a C+. This Sunday at 5 p.m. in the Theater Classroom, a young Almighty presented before a panel of reviewers “the heavens and the earth:” the final project in her quest for an MU (Master of the Universe Degree). It was part of The Whole Shebang by Rich Orloff, a Theater Workshop directed by Abby Seldin ’05. The Student, played by Meryl Mims ’03, must overcome the fact that she “goofed off on the seventh day,” and appeal to the three reviewers, Professor B, played by Emma Dorsey ’05, the Dean, played by Franklin Davison ’05 and Professor A, played by Jenny Schnabl ’06. In an attempt to exhibit her human species, the Student has her roommate beam up two specimens of the race, John and Mary Doe, fine upstanding citizens with two bright and obedient children. Unfortunately, the Does were on vacation, and the in-laws, Harvey, played by James Bologna ’04 and his wife Edna, played by Sam Demetriou ’05, who were house sitting, end up a part of the project that will determine the Student’s final grade. Their less than enthusiastic report of life on earth leaves the Student with a C+. Mims did an excellent job in the role of the Alpha and Omega. Though Seldin confessed that she had not originally considered casting the part as a female she enthusiastically reported, “I took the option of making God a woman without any sort of political statement.” In her PA debut, Mims showed a good understanding of the Student’s anxiety before the panel. Mims’s Student was a real and interesting character, showing pride in her creation mixed with the fear that Harvey and Edna would ruin her project. Dorsey, Davison, and Schnabl all had the energy necessary to bring largely sedentary parts to life. Though all three were guilty of the occasional smile at the audience’s laughter, their responses contributed to the delightful energy of the stage. Dorsey inhabited her role with effervescence appropriate to her character, commenting on the beauty of human feet and the majesty of her favorite of the Students creation – the cow. Davison proved his comedic talents in this show – quick to snap at the Student for trying to interrupt the inquisition of the humans. Schnabl also took hold of the stage with a captivating confidence, quick to judge the Student’s work and to impart criticism. Demetriou and Bologna were an extremely comic pair, fitting the role of the average and somewhat pathetic Dayton, Ohio couple. Demetriou especially shined in her role of a disgruntled telephone operator. Though they sometimes seemed uncomfortable on the stage, their well-delivered lines elicited many laughs from the audience. Indeed, much of the credit for this more than polished production goes to Seldin and her work as director. The cast had nothing but praise for her blocking and aid with character development, and it all proved worthwhile for the audience with the performance. Faced with the challenge of adding life to the panel scenario that normally would have required much movement, Seldin focused on bringing out the already high energy level of the cast as well as working in some interesting and justifiable blocking. Though she admitted that the good deal of energy in her cast and “chemistry” between her cast members made it “difficult getting them to buckle down and rehearse,” she artfully harnessed that energy into well-defined characters with good responsiveness on stage. Her ground plan for the show provided an interesting use of the theater classroom blocks, though at moments some of the audience members were prevented from seeing the faces of the actors as some of the blocks were facing too far stage left. Nevertheless, this project shows clear improvement from Seldin’s first production Deus Ex Machina in the fall, and the PA community should look forward to an even more ambitious project from this director and the talented cast members of The Whole Shebang.