The boundary-breaking tradition of excellence in Speech Competition at Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment continues today with the strong performances of the 2017 MSAE Speech team, showing at Spayde Theatre Friday, Feb 24, and Saturday, Feb 25, at 8:00. You won’t want to miss it! The evening begins with two Ensemble Acting entries. Loreena Hansen is an electric force of nature in an excerpt from The Dancers by Horton Foote, shifting adroitly from scolding mom to wised up waitress to sulky teen. As a young woman open to love, Olivia Goodale’s every move is genuine and heartfelt; she’s a shining presence on the stage, and Karan Chodankar’s painfully shy young man is touching and entirely believable.
In an excerpt from You Can’t Take It With You, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and Academy Award-winning movie, Jivani Rodriguez is passionate and engaging as the young woman who fears that her lovably wacky family will doom her love affair. The easy-going warmth of her charming suitor, played by Drew Shoenfeld, deepens the piece, and Alista Wikle and Devan Burke are delightfully entertaining as the odd relations.
“I Couldn’t Sleep” is an original short work written and staged by MSAE Speech faculty member Meredith Siemsen. With a spotlight on just one face (the expressive Jivani Rodriguez), a medley of voices invoke the horror of the suffering imagined in a Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in Iowa, to spare and chilling effect. It’s wonderful to have Meredith back at MSAE; as a student in 1989, she acted in one of the earliest plays directed by Rodney Franz at the school.
Next up, long-time MSAE Speech advisor Mosie Lasagna, with help from local radio personality Andy MacKenzie, created a Readers’ Theatre event for the ages with “Many Moons.” The well-loved James Thurber story is presented as a radio show being acted out by children listening to it as a bedtime story. The classic tale of a princess who wants her father to give her the moon is illuminated by the kids’ antics as the king, the court jester, and many other comical characters, and the story is punctuated by hilarious ads and public service announcements. Performances are spot-on throughout (see cast members’ names below), and the audience cheered the highly entertaining result.
The closing piece is the moving “Water,” a Choral Reading blended from literature, science, and original writings by Speech faculty and students. As the actors’ melodious voices share myths of creation, stories of Katrina and the Dust Bowl, references to Standing Rock; Flint, Michigan, and more, their bodies form waves, become a fish, and tell the story of water in the world in 2017. With a score ranging from rap to spirituals, this piece is contemporary, important, and beautifully performed.
Special recognition to Jan Thatcher for creating the effective costumes and props, and for providing coaching, along with Meredith, Mosie and Gaelyn Hutchinson, who brings his multiple talents, extensive Circus Arts training and dance-movement experience to the team to great effect. Set design is by Derek and Greg Thatcher, and lighting design is by Lucinda Hall. Above all, congratulations to the talented students for working as a fluid ensemble and making each moment come alive.
Tickets are on sale at Thymely Solutions and at the box office.
“Many Moons” cast members: Bhavani Allison, Amber Benvenidez, Ava Botto, Jaya Coplea, Yenet Deribe, Ezra Holbert, Jaiden Jarmosco, Lulu Miller, Jada Sparks, Deepika Vempati, Mathias Vera, Harris Walden, Chase Winer, George Xie, Puneetha Yammanur, and Jaime Zhang. Plus, Zain Halley and Chase Winer perform in “Water” and “I Couldn’t Sleep.”