TMU theatre’s fall play features a small cast with a big task.
September 15, 2018
What do two music majors, two communications majors and a Bible major have in common?
In this case, they are the five people that make up The Master’s University Theatre Art’s fall production “The 39 Steps,” a spy comedy adapted from the Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name.
“Typically there’s only four people, but we have five because we can’t have guys playing girls at Master’s,” said Christian Johnson, a senior communication major, as his cast mates laughed at him over their to-go boxes.
“No cross dressing here at TMU,” chimed in Abigail Halverson, a senior music major.
Many of the cast members are responsible for more than one character in the show. Brian Treanor, a sophomore Bible major, is taking on 12 roles alone.
“I was part of the pit orchestra last year, and I saw how tight the theatre cast was and crew was last year so it made me really interested in it.” said Treanor. “And I found out that it would involve a lot of accents and voices, which I had been doing since I was little.”
While Treanor had been involved in theatre at TMU before, Lizzy Ryan, a senior communications major, had never been a part of any theatre production.
“I actually went in to sign up for crew,” said Ryan. “And then (at) the last minute I decided to audition.”
The rest of the cast was involved with “The Secret Garden” last spring.
“I feel like the reason that I auditioned for ‘The 39 Steps’ was because I enjoyed the acting part of ‘The Secret Garden’ so much,” said Josh Hilton, a sophomore music major.
While most of the cast has some experience, “The 39 Steps” still presents a unique challenge.
“It’s so different from a musical, like even as a storyline. Character-wise, it’s so different,” said Halverson. “It just feels very different in a good kind of way.”
“The 39 Steps” is not only different because it is a play and not a musical, but it is also a comedy, a genre the cast is not used to participating in.
“It’s not so much scripted comedy,” explained Halverson. “It’s a lot of physical humor, a lot of situational in timing, how things roll together”
Even though it is a challenge, the cast is excited to work on the show and are confident about what the play could be.
“A lot of us have been through TMU productions before, so we know what the end result can be,” said Hilton. “And since we have such a small cast there is a huge potential to kind of push us towards that direction faster.”
One of the strengths of the small cast is how diverse they are.
“It’s just a funny dynamic, not everybody has the same personality,” said Treanor.
Theatre Arts at TMU isn’t limited to any particular major, so all students are allowed to audition.
“I think that’s kind of the strength of the theatre program, is that it’s not just theatre people,” said Johnson. “On cast and crew it’s all majors united to try to make a show that’s good and that’s pleasing to the Lord.“
“It’s almost funny how diverse the characters in the show actually are,” responded Halverson. “It almost parallels how different we are from each other.”
More than just different majors, the five actors that make up the cast of “The 39 Steps” have varied personalities which, according to Hilton, is what makes the show unique.
“I’ve been in casts where it’s all theatre people, and we’re all very similar personalities and have very similar goals,” said Halverson. “It makes for almost a stagnant social and theatrical experience.”
Along with creating a beautiful production, the cast is aware of their opportunity to send a message to their audience as well.
“It’s really easy in performing arts to make it about the performer,” said Hilton. “Our dream as we do this is to make it less about the performer and more about making the performance a catalyst for something to kind of point the audience toward something bigger.”
The road to accomplishing that goal won’t be easy, but the cast is committed to working towards it together.
“It’s going to take a lot of humility and sacrifice but that’s what we all want to do and what we are all working towards,” said Hilton.