Exuberance filled the stage Saturday evening at Clarks Summit University.
I wouldn’t have blamed the cast members if they slowed down just a bit. After all, it was their final of three 80-minute public performances in the school’s spring production of “Charlotte’s Web.”
But it was nothing short of terrific. (I hear that’s spelled “T, double-E, double-R, double-R, double-I, double-F, double-I, double-C, C, C.”)
And the actors and actresses were radiant.
I choose these adjectives not just for their associations with the story, but because the descriptions fit.
Naomi Muennich’s facial expressions and antics shaped her success as Wilbur the pig. It was easy to see she enjoyed the role.
Emily Miller represented the childhood innocence, compassion and excitement of Fern Arable with every line. The Lewistown resident never seemed to slow down, even when she was standing still.
Sylvia Chabala didn’t need eight legs – just a friendly but laid-back demeanor – to beautifully portray the heroic spider for which the play is named.
In fact, the entire cast stepped into their roles with vigor that brought the characters to life: Abigail Haines of Madisonville as Lurvy, Kristen Pontz of Lebanon as the sheep/lamb/announcer, Jimmy Carr of Randolph, New York as Homer Zuckerman, Clara Gensiak of Erie as Edith Zuckerman, Mark Mallecoccio of Erin, New York as John Arable, Mariah Fredenburg of Conklin, New York as Martha Arable, Hope Showers of Millerstown as the goose and uncle, Faith Vileniskis of New York City as Templeton the rat and Jack Simons of Cadillac, Michigan as Avery and the gander.
At the end of the show, Jonathan Strayer, director, expressed pride in the entire cast and gave special recognition to the two senior members, Muennich, who is from Anchorage, Alaska, and Chabala, a Peckville resident, for their final theater performances as CSU students.
The two will be missed next year.
Meanwhile in La Plume, Keystone College is suffering a loss of an even greater number. Five of the six cast members for the school’s spring production were seniors about to graduate.
“Over the River and Through the Woods,” which was also presented this weekend, was directed by Rachel Luann Strayer, wife of the CSU director. I was just as impressed with the final performance of this production on Sunday afternoon as I was with CSU’s play the evening before.
This cast included seniors Dalton Nixon of South Abington Township as Nick Cristano, Darren Weber of Scranton as Frank Gianelli, Eileen Walsh of Scranton as Aida Gianelli, Nicci Petry of Clarks Summit as Emma Cristano and Meg Oyer of Warminster as Caitlin O’Hare, along with junior Michael Calabro of Paupack Township as Nunzio Cristano.
The performance of each actor and actress was magnifico, to borrow from the native/ancestral tongue of the characters.
The whole play was magnificent, but what I enjoyed most was the laughter. The cast delivered almost every line of the comedy with just the right expression, timing and clarity to draw enthusiastic laughs – or at least quiet snorts – from the audience.
I almost didn’t go to see the Keystone Players, thinking one play was enough for one weekend. But I changed my mind, and I’m glad I did.
If I was writing a theatrical review, here would be the part in which I would give the plays 5-star ratings and tell everyone to go see them. But with both productions already come to a close, I can only reiterate the good times missed by those who didn’t go. Perhaps it will cushion the blow of disappointment, however, to know that both colleges still have their spring concerts coming up.
CSU will present “All Things Bright and Beautiful” May 3-4 at
7 p.m. To learn more,
And Keystone has two scheduled: the Performance Music Jazz Spring Concert on March 24 at 7 p.m. and the Performance Music Symphonic/Vocal Concert on April 28 at 7 p.m., both to be held in the Theatre in Brooks. For more information about these, visit keystone.edu/campus-life/music-at-keystone.
I hope to make it out to each and I hope readers will too. If the schools’ music departments are filled with as much talent as their theater groups, we’re in for a treat.
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