The play had every reason for scarce attendance. With a myriad of campus activities, theatrical catharsis could have easily been rejected.It was not.
The historically relevant Old Man Pete drew curtains at the same time that campus athletics commenced, Caribbean fashionistas strutted and fraternity pageantry went under way this week.
However, the theatre department was not disturbed, deterred and did not disappoint.
The cast of mostly underclassmen brought the production to life. The show began shortly after seven with theatre chair Dr. King David Godwin’s welcome speech.
“Old Man Pete is about respect.honor.how you feel about your forefathers,” Godwin said to a nearly packed house.
He told enraptured listeners that we “rest on the shoulders of ancestors.”
After he spoke, director Nicholas Harrison stressed the hunt for additional talent and professed a desire to “plunge for trained actors” to add to the already dedicated theatre family.
The storyline followed a married couple who ultimately decided to sever ties with the husband’s parents after (the father) “Old Man Pete” forcefully confronted his divisive daughter-in-law.
The elderly got a little street, too, as the father spat that his son’s wife was a hussy- to uproarious laughter and applause.
Debora Spencer-Kirby played that tobacco toting, red lipstick and dress wearing familial wedge.
The show was executed in a realistic enough light to captivate and evoke emotion from the audience consistently. While some seat warmers watched and displayed typically appropriate adult behaviors such as attentiveness and silence, others giggled at the unforeseen death of mother, Mandy Collier (played by Tiana Alexander).
Speaking of Collier, the freshman from Dallas deserves heightened recognition for continuing to deliver on her characters. The Broadway bound actress embodied the pain of a rejected mother and effortlessly contrasted it with the adoration of a committed spouse.
Another notable performance came from Chicago’s own performing art extraordinaire Deron
James who played Pete Collier (“Old Man Pete”). James became Pete so truthfully that he reminded some of senior citizens in their families.
Sophomore mass communications major Savannah Dillon said that his portrayal reminded her of her uncle.
Sophomore criminal justice and political science major Courtney Smith bragged that she came to see the show both nights.
The department boasted a line up of talent including Curtis Maxey Jr., Shaina Rogers, Burnell McGee, Patrick Johnny, Meliah Smith and an uber hilarious wino played by Tracy Francis.
This 70 year celebration of theatre was presented proudly, loudly and climactically ended on a bus stop bench in the cold.
The play ran for about a half hour.
Props to the theatre department for showcasing a new level of greatness. And big ups to stage manager Angela O’Leary for transforming teen faces into countenances of wisdom.