‘Wonderful Town’ pushes the dimensions of E. Turner Stump Theatre

Bo Gemmell

Junior theatre major Dan Grgic, who play the character “The Wreck” in “Wonderful Town,” is hoisted in the air after a reminiscence of his college football career. ELIZABETH MYERS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

CHECK OUT photos from the show.

Despite this week’s heavy snow, the show must go on.

Mark Monday, director of “Wonderful Town,” said the musical is set for a preview today while the official opening is Saturday.

Effie Tsengas, the marketing director for the School of Theatre and Dance, said “Wonderful Town” is one of the largest shows ever performed in the E. Turner Stump Theatre.

She said the members of “Wonderful Town” spent this week, called “tech week,” finalizing costumes and finishing the set.

“Everything kind of comes together during tech week,” she said.

The stage manager, senior theater major Liz Talaba, said tech week involves bringing together all the elements of production.

“The goal is to perfect the show by opening night,” Talaba said.

Monday said he has worked on the musical every day since April.

“It all has to be carefully coordinated,” Monday said. “[Talaba is] constantly busy doing things behind the scene.”

Grace Cochran, senior costume design major, said one of her activities for tech week involved reviewing details on costumes.

“Right now I’m dying buttons,” Cochran said, as she unclenched a fist full of blue buttons.

She said the formerly white buttons were difficult to see from the back of the theater. The distance of the audience “is one of the big challenges” for Cochran.

Monday said tech week is “the most stressful time” during the production.

The students rehearse for four hours daily, with one day off per week. Monday said the students take classes during the day, rehearse from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and finish schoolwork after.

“People think theater majors have it easy,” Monday said. “It’s a busy major.”

The department holds two shows a semester, and some students participate in both shows, Monday said.

“They’ll literally close a show and go to rehearsal the next day,” he said.

Monday said the music in “Wonderful Town” is so interesting that he “wanted it to be a character on the show” while creating a balance between the actors’ dialogue and the band.

He wanted Kent State students in the music program to play in the 11-piece brass band for the show but couldn’t due to conflicting schedules.

Jessica Beaudry, a senior musical theater major who plays Eileen in the musical, said she’s seen “phenomenal” growth in her acting under Monday’s direction.

Beaudry said her character commits a selfless act so her sister, Ruth, can find happiness.

Ruth, performed by theater graduate student Laura Cook, moves to New York with Eileen.

“Ruth is a small-town girl from Ohio who has big aspirations to make it in the world of writing,” Cook said.

Student tickets cost $8, general admission tickets are $10 to $14 and the musical will attract people from around campus, in Tsengas’ opinion. The musical will run every day through Sunday, Feb. 24.

Contact performing arts reporter Bo Gemmell at [email protected]

Contributions to this story were made by performing arts reporter Elizabeth Myers. Contact her at [email protected].