Culture / The Saint

Aquinas Theatre: Behind the scenes of the 2018-2019 season

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Brock Gabbert, Tanner Kosten, John VanWeezel, Ian Reul, and Danata Paulino prepare for AQ Theatre’s first production of the season, “Dracula.”

Story by Mackenzie Walters, Reporter
Photo courtesy of Ashley Bolek

Everyone loves something about Fall, and whether that’s snuggling up with a warm blanket and a hot chocolate, or venturing to their local Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice latte, it makes people want to get comfortable, sit back and watch a great show.

AQ Theatre has just that for their upcoming year. Just in time for spooky season, they will kick off the year with Steven Dietz’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Brock Gabbert, a student at Aquinas College, says he is very excited to be playing Dracula himself.

Randy Wyatt, Professor of Theatre explains how this production is particularly unique: “‘Dracula’ is a crowd pleaser, but this adaptation is particularly vibrant and unsettling. Rich with both humor and horror, this play paints a wickedly theatrical picture of Stoker’s famous vampire.” “Dracula” will hit the stage Thursday, October 11, at 8 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. The show will also be performed that Friday and Saturday, October 12 and 13, at 8 p.m., and on Sunday, October 14 at 2 p.m.

There is a lot of behind the scenes work that needs to be done to put on a show (literally). The director first starts by choosing a show, and the actors choose the parts they want to audition for.

Randy Wyatt chooses the shows for the theatre program. “I’m always looking for work that challenges our audiences and actors, and demonstrates the art form’s vitality to who we are right now. My primary interest is in contemporary work for the stage, and I read 50-75 plays a year to keep on top of what is relevant and vital in the theatrical landscape.”

Preparing for a great season in theatre is a year round task. Once the shows are chosen, actors’ spots need to be filled.

Brock Gabbert gives his input on the audition process: “I look for the parts that really capture my imagination, and scripts that excite me. If there isn’t a part that I’m interested in, I don’t audition, but there’s almost always something I want to do. Usually auditions at Aquinas consist of cold reads, in which actors simply read scenes from the script, making sure to make strong character choices.” Auditions are crucial to the turnout of the play. The director must carefully choose who is the best fit for each part.

The theatre program has scheduled three more shows for the 2018-19 season. “The Illusion,” the show Brock is looking forward to possibly performing in before he graduates, is “a spectacular play about a businessman estranged from his son, that goes to a cave where a wizard lives and asks him to spin illusions about where his son is and what he is doing, and he is forever changed for doing so,” according to Randy Wyatt. This show will take place December 6 through December 9.

The theatre program will follow that up with Jen Silverman’s “hilariously quirky examination of loneliness” in “The Moors,” February 21 through February 24.

They will close the year off with the first play of the arctic cycle, “SILA.” Randy Wyatt explains the show in more depth. “‘SILA’ explores social and environmental fallout of climate change in the spirit of our Theatre for Social Change major.” This play will be performed April 11 through April 14.

A Word from Randy Wyatt:

Our unique collaboration with local schools and community theatres makes the Performing Arts Center one of the most celebrated performance spaces in the area.  I invite you to come experience why the Aquinas College Theatre Program consistently wins regional accolades and recognition season to season.

For tickets or more information, call AQ Box Office at 616-456-6656. Tickets can also be purchased through the web box office. All shows will be performed at Aquinas College Performing Arts Center.

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