Freshmen make their entrance to Lawrence theatre in “Street Scene”

This past Thursday, Feb. 20, saw the opening of the term’s theatre arts performance, “Street Scene.” The play is one of two productions of the same name that Lawrence is performing this winter.  Starting Thursday, March 6, the theatre will begin performing the opera Kurt Weil adapted from Elmer Rice’s original play. The first performance had several newer faces in the cast that impressed the audience and are certain to enrich future performances.

Freshmen Joe Johnson and Jacob Dalton highlight a cast of talented young actors that went on stage this weekend. Dalton, a freshman from Waterford, Mich., plays the bad-tempered and somewhat abusive father and husband Frank Maurrant. “I connected myself to Frank because I was playing him. When I played the role, I tried to see any similarities so I could do it better.” Dalton will be playing the adulterous milk collector Steve Sankey in the upcoming opera production. “The opera has a lot more to do with the presentation of it, and the play is more of a cut-out of real life, and all the characters have many different emotions.”

When asked to compare this production with his high school theatre program, Dalton said, “Lawrence is a lot more serious, its casting isn’t just who happens to be there but who’s actually good for the role. I feel like Lawrence has a lot more of a free environment to explore character choices, and that’s very much a Lawrence-difference kind of thing.” Dalton credits Associate Professor of Theater Arts and James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama Kathy Privatt with allowing the actors to shape their characters very constructively as a defining part of the production.

Freshman Tony Harth plays a lighthearted bully who drives a taxi. The most impressive part of the production, in his opinion, was the way all the different parts of the story were able to fit into the same set of the New York brownstone. He says that “the biggest difference from high school theatre is probably that set, we didn’t have an amazing set in high school.”

Freshman Matt Larson says the play’s director was the most noticeable change from his high school program. “The people on top, the stage manager and the director, they were both just so good at everything they did. They just controlled the cast magnificently.” Larson plays several characters throughout the play, including a policeman and a mailman, the second of which he sees as the character he relates to most. “Just an old guy, doing his thing, happy to be alive, I can dig that.”

Dalton brings up the role smaller characters play as the most impressive part of the show. “They can explain their entire character with just a few lines. There was a girl that walked across the stage with a bandage on her face, and she had a story. But her face and the way she moved displayed everything about it. I think little things like that really glue the play together and make it a work of art.”

Larson describes a specific scene as one of the high points of the performance. “The murder scene. There are 20 people on stage running up and down the stairs. Perfectly controlled chaos that looks both chaotic and out of control, but that was all planned. That kind of sums up the play, really.”