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Over the years and through the woods

October 27, 2017

Nineteen beautifully illustrated posters signed by cast performers adorn the wall: testimonies of past shows performed at the Master’s University. The poster of “Over the River and Through the Woods” hangs near the bottom of the arrangement, the latest addition to the collection on the wall.

The woman behind the desk of this office is Tricia Hulet. She is the director and the main visionary behind each play the Master’s University has put on since 2007, when Master’s theatre had its inception.

Her latest work in progress is “Over the River and Through the Woods.” The show features a cast of six and is a touching story on the joy and pain of life and family relationships.  Tricia’s face lights up as she searches for words to describe the play.

“Every person who sees it will relate to it on some level. It’s the most real, authentic script I have ever read,” Hulet said.

This isn’t the first show Hulet has under her belt as a director. She has worked with hundreds of individual student actors over the years, and she was excited to share what has changed in theatre over the years.

“The biggest way is production value. Our budget is the same… but it’s been people supporting us—like outside people, patrons, folks that love Master’s, that love what we’re doing, giving specifically to help us with the production value [and] the technical side of things.”  

Some of those technical advances have included additions of movie set pieces, fog machines, and a pit orchestra.

The change has come not only through production value, but also student involvement. To compare the original show to the current one, “The Importance of Being Earnest” had a total cast and crew of roughly 27 people. “Over the River and Through the Woods” has crew and cast size of 55 people.

“It’s been the ingenuity of the students that keep coming through and their willingness to figure out how to take that next step and make something better.”

Rebeqah James is a current theater student and the lead makeup artist. She has been in almost every show since her freshman year and moved up from being one of the makeup artists to the lead.

“The experience of being involved in a show that’s committed to professionalism and excellence, even though none of us are professionals, and gaining experience in leadership, and how to present yourself to others.”

Looking around Hulet’s office, there are small tokens of past performances lying about, mementos and gifts from participants of the former plays. This year marks the tenth anniversary of TMU theatre, and to celebrate, alumni from the original showing of “Over the River and Through the Woods” are also coming together to put on their own special show in honor of the decade of Christ-honoring theatre. In many ways, despite the production quality changes, theatre at Master’s has changed surprisingly little.  Brighton Lang is one of the alumni from the first show, “The Importance of Being Earnest”.  She has seen theatre grow and develop over the years.

“I would describe it as a family of brothers and sisters who have the same goal, which is to glorify God and to represent Christ, not themselves, and doing that through art.  You can be funny, you can be serious, you can be emotional, and still represent Christ in a godly way,” Lang said.

TMU theatre has developed and changed over the years. Tricia Hulet is the woman who has pushed theatre in this direction, and the students know this.

“She’s always open to questions or ideas, especially questions like if there’s ever something we don’t understand… she’s very approachable and easy to talk to. She’s very detail oriented, and she really pulls out the depth in the story; she’s never satisfied with a shallow portrayal of a character. She will always push you to always dig out more than you thought you could do,” said James.

Master’s Theatre wouldn’t be the same without Tricia. Sitting in her office, there are emblems of the past scattered around. But looking across the desk, you see an emblem of the future: a director who strives for God’s glory in the future of TMU productions.

James Phillips, assistant director for six years, is one of Tricia’s closest coworkers and friends.

“I have never been a part of a team that worked so well, and that comes from her leadership. She excels at leading by example.”

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