NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Two student directors will see the fruit of their labor when three one-act plays come to the Bethel College stage.
Joshua Powell, senior from Basehor, and Clinton Harris, junior from Manhattan, staged and directed fellow students for these performances, which will be Saturday, May 1, beginning at 7 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium of the Fine Arts Center. The event is free and open to the public.
The show begins with two comedic acts by Neil Simon, “Visitors from Philadelphia” and “Visitors from Chicago.” Both scenes take place in the same hotel room, Suite 203. Powell directs both acts.
“Visitors from Philadelphia” focuses on hotel guest Marvin Michaels, played by Creigh Bartel, freshman from Newton. Marvin wakes up with a hangover to find an unconscious hooker lying next to him in bed. Tension escalates when Marvin's wife, Millie, played by Jacqueline Lohrmann, freshman from Wuppertal, Germany, arrives.
“Essentially the play is him trying to get her out of the room, then it’s him trying to cover up what happened, and finally it’s him telling the truth and dealing with the consequences,” said Powell.
“Visitors from Chicago” tells the story of a relaxing vacation gone wrong. The scene begins when Beth Hollender, played by Megan Siebert, freshman from Topeka, and her husband Mort, played by Ryan Cummins, freshman from Joshua, Texas, enter the suite after losing a tennis match.
As a result of the match, Beth is left injured and both Hollenders hold a grudge against their vacation companions and friends, Stu and Gert Franklyn, played by John Miller, junior from Partridge, and Sara Volweider, sophomore from Haven.
“It shows how even good friends cannot [always] survive what is supposed to be a relaxing time together,” said Powell.
Additional cast members are Taylor McCabe-Juhnke, junior from North Newton, and Kelly Reed, senior from Edinburg, Texas. Amy Volweider, senior from Haven, is the stage manager.
The evening concludes with the comedy Christmas Spirits, written and directed by Clint Harris.
Harris sketched a rough draft of the scene while watching The Muppets Christmas Carol in December 2009 and has been revising it since that time.
“I feel a little silly doing something even remotely Christmas-related,” said Harris. “But this is the only time I’m not sick of Christmas.”
The scene takes place behind the scenes of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. “It shows what the spirits are doing when they’re not showing people their past transgressions,” said Harris.
The characters are modernized and include a Ghost of Christmas Future who has an inferiority complex. “She thinks she’s not intimidating enough,” said Harris, “so she tries to wear stilts.”
The stage is set up as a dressing room and allows audiences to see the behind-the-scene lives of the Christmas Spirits.
The cast includes Alex Stucky, junior from Moundridge, as the Ghost of Christmas Present; Audra Miller, freshman from Hesston, as the Ghost of Christmas Future; Kelsey Ortman, sophomore from Marion, S.D., as the Ghost of Christmas Past; and Kenneth Ward, senior from Hugo, Colo., as Jacob Marley.
“Directing my own script has been a far more harrowing process than anticipated. But, quite literally, I’m loving every minute of rehearsals and I have a great cast to work with,” said Harris.
“It’s been a really rewarding experience so far,” said Powell of his directorial debut. “The actors are exceeding my expectations with how well they’re doing and how much they enjoy the script. And if they enjoy it, then I enjoy it, too.”
Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2009 and one of only two Kansas colleges profiled in Colleges of Distinction 2009-10. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.