What do you get when you combine Shakespeare’s “Othello” and “Romeo and Juliet”? According to the theater department, the answer is “Good Night Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet.” Opening day is September 30” and the show runs through October 4 in the Jones Theater.
Under the direction of Mark Pickell, this show is bound to be a hit at SU. Consisting of cross-dressing, swordplay, mistaken identities and playful tomfoolery, Ann-Marie MacDonald has written a show that takes a plucky academic back into the times of Desdemona and Juliet. Through an adventure of interaction and discovery, Good Night Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet is a good combination of Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll and Woody Allen.
The Washington Post said that “Goodnight Desdemona” is “delightful, often hilarious . . . MacDonald doesn’t miss a trick, scattering satirical observations on love and sex, scholarship and the Bard like birdseed, while taking full advantage of the slapstick possibilities in Shakespearean cross-dressing.”
Each crew is working hard to make this show come together by opening night. The stage manager, lighting crew, set crew, costume crew and of course, the actors and director are working hard to make “Goodnight Desdemona” a success.
Cathrin Winsor, the stage manager of “Good Night Desdemona,” has her hands full with tasks to make sure this show is a success. Although this is her first time managing a main stage show at SU, she has had experience with other shows in the past, including being an assistant stage manager for last year’s “This is Not a Pipe Dream.” She was also the stage manager for the Tal Lostraccoo Summer Theatre Camp held at SU this year.
“A stage manager’s job is to facilitate and coordinate both the artistic and practical processes of theater,” Winsor said. “Stage managers run production meetings, record actors’ blocking, aid communication between designers, director, actors, crew, etc., and run the show once it opens.”
Winsor is excited about “Good Night Desdemona” because of the amount of true comedy in the show as opposed to dark comedy or comedy with some type of hidden message.
“The play is perfect for people who love Shakespeare as well as those who hated reading it for class because it pulls directly from the original text of the two famous tragedies and turns them into outrageous comedies,” Winsor said.
The lighting crew also has a lot to do during this show because it consists of numerous special effects and several time warps that require the designers to be creative with the illumination.
Crew member Kristi Brawner explained that the primary job is to follow the light plot and hang and focus the lights for the show.
“We work for three hours twice a week to make sure we are on schedule providing a specific and lovely illumination for the actors onstage,” Brawner said.
The challenges of the show allow each member of the team to contribute and problem solve.
“‘Desdemona’ involves numerous special effects that are going to pose a challenge, but not an unconquerable one, to each lighting student,” Brawner said. “The designers have worked out clever patterns and colors, and fun visual treats that I think will be enjoyed by the audience.”
The play is going to take place in the Jones Theater. The shape and arrangement of this theater allow designers to create many interesting and surprising sets.
Junior Tyler King has worked on sets for this theatre in the past.
“The design uses multiple levels of perspective and allows for a lot of movement and at times ‘surprises’,” King said. “I feel the design itself does a good job of capturing both the real world and the theatrical world of Shakespeare as MacDonald writes it.”
The costume lab students and those on wardrobe crew have a lot of fun costumes and situations to deal with during the show. Students working on the costumes are busy making pleated skirts, puffed sleeve jackets, britches and other unique clothing pieces.
“‘Desdemona’ has a lot of gender switching going on throughout the show,” sophomore Rachel Hoovler said. “Michael Balagia will not only be playing the male role of Othello, but he is also playing the Nurse.”
These role changes call for many different costumes on top of characters needing assistance on costume changes during the show. Assisting during these quick changes is another role of the wardrobe crew.
“Good Night Desdemona” consists of five main characters and several supporting characters played by Michael Balagia, Jessica Hughes, Alexis Armstrong, Jayne Furlong and Zac Carr. There five actors play all 16 roles.
Senior theater major Michael Balagia commented that the three act play, consisting of Shakespearean verse, has been a challenge with only three weeks to memorize lines.
“When I first read the plot overview, the story of an assistant professor of English falling into the world of Shakespeare, it sounded a bit ridiculous,” Balagia said. “After I read the script, though, I absolutely fell in love with the play.”
Balagia said that the show is full of clever Shakespeare references that can relate to the Shakespeare lovers as well as those who are just in it for fun and humor.
Rehearsals have been demanding and have consisted of different training.
“My favorite part of the rehearsal process was definitely the sword fighting,” Balagia said. “We had to come in on Saturdays for fights choreography, but if I have to be in the theater on the weekend, learning to sword fight is definitely not something I mind.”
With all of the effort that has been put into this show it is sure to be another entertaining and exhilarating production.