The theater department here at Bates has been getting loads of attention – for all the right reasons. This past weekend eight Batesies performed in “Marie and the Nutcracker” written and directed by Charles A. Dana Professor, Martin Andrucki. Each of the five performances attracted a crowd while the actors illustrated an original twist of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s play, not the ballet.
The play focuses on Marie, a rebellious doll-loving girl, played by Keila Ching ’18, and her family as they prepare for the eldest daughter’s wedding. Uncle Drosselmeier, played by Colin McIntire ’16, comes to town and tells the tale of the curse of the Nutcracker and how to break the spell of “ugliness” cast upon the characters in the fable. Marie remains as the same character throughout the play as she fends off the Mouse King, played by Sam James ’17, and almost sacrifices her beloved dolls in order to save her family and the Nutcracker.
Most of the cast members played multiple roles that had similar characteristics, drawing parallels between Marie’s family and the characters in the tale of the Nutcracker.
Nate Stephenson ’18 played three characters in the show: the Nutcracker cursed by a witch played by Audrey Burns ’17, the nephew in The Tale of the Hard Nut (an anecdote within the play) and the nephew of Drosselmeier.
“The nephew is sort of foolish and goofy, and I think the Nutcracker has matured and gotten a lot more serious. The nephew of the modern day character Drosselmeier is a lot more nervous and unsure than the other two characters, and it’s been fun to try and make each one of them distinct from the others,” Stephenson said.
Along with a handful of Bates students and professor Andrucki, Stephenson traveled to Budapest this past Short Term to study European theater and film. Having this prior class experience with Andrucki allowed him to foster the excitement of working with the professor again this semester. “I was really looking forward to working with him not only on a show, but a show that he himself had written,” Stephenson said. “I’ve never worked on an original show before, and because the director was also the playwright, we were able to mold to script to suit our needs as the process went on. Lines were cut, added and changed around to make the show flow more smoothly and to make characters more vibrant and precise.”
Sarah Curtis ’18 went to the show Friday evening. She commented, “In my opinion, the play seemed to be a huge success for the whole cast. It was hilarious and the acting was great. The set for the show was beautiful and everyone did a great job. The characters created a diverse dynamic onstage and I thoroughly enjoyed it!”
Stephenson also claims that the cast has been close throughout this entire process. Going to such a small school like Bates allows everyone to know each other pretty early on in the game, but as the two months of rehearsals went on, he claimed, “I’ve become good friends with those I hadn’t known and closer to those I had. It’s a tightly knit group—we try to have cast dinners as frequently as possible, and just the other night we all played laser tag on the same team. I’m going to miss working with the cast, but we definitely will still see each other when the show is over!”
Stephenson said that the opening night was a huge success with only a few minor kinks to be sorted out. The second night’s performance was even better. “We were feeling more confident and the house was great—the audience was bigger than Thursday night’s, which brought a higher energy that I think the actors could feel and feed off of,” he exclaimed.