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The Arts Scene

What to expect this spring…

Hannah Opdenaker
MSM Class of 2018

(2/2018) The first week of the semester at the Mount was filled with warm wishes for a happy New Year from the Visual and Performing Arts Department. Springtime at the Mount is always filled with events that highlight the work of students on campus, and the Visual and Performing Arts Department is no exception. During this first few weeks of this semester, Senior theatre majors Nicole Heilos and Hannah Opdenaker will be holding auditions for their up and coming senior directing projects. Heilos will be producing a show called "Light: Songs to Stop Mental Stigma". The show will include songs from various musicals dealing with mental health and mental illness. Theater goers may recognize songs from the popular newer musicals on Broadway, Dear Evan Hansen, Next to Normal, or the recently revived musical Spring Awakening. Other musicals recognizable musicals Heilos will be pulling from include Sweeny Todd, Jekyll and Hyde, Rent, Gypsy, and Into the Woods, which was made into a popular Disney movie a few years ago.

"This is such an exciting time for Mount Theater" says Heilos, "We have worked so hard to get here, and time feels as if it has just flown by over these four years." Heilos claims she is most excited to work with the students that she has befriended over her four years here at the Mount. "It will be interesting transition" she says "I have only worked with my peers as a student actor, so actually directing them will be a different kind of experience. Definitely a learning curve I will have to overcome." Heilos believes that the work she is presenting is important, however. The conversation about mental health is one that she believes that has to be had, but rarely is. "How many times have you overlooked someone with a mental disability or illness? Or how many times have you said ‘it’s just depression.’ Or ‘it’s just OCD what is the big deal?" Heilos believes that her compilation of songs that address the stigma of mental illness, and the severity of their effects on the human condition will be warmly welcomed around the Mount campus.

If you are interested in seeing Nicole’s production of Light: Songs to Stop Mental Stigma, you can catch it in the Horning Theater in the Delaplaine Fine Arts Center on the main campus. The dates for the show are March 22-24.

This spring also heralds the first round of auditions for Hannah Opdenaker’s senior project, Lysistrata. Opdenaker’s project is a fresh, fast-paced comedy, inspired by the Aristophanes play. It follows the legendary character of Lysistrata, an Athenian housewife, who calls for the women of Greece to help end the Peloponnesian War. She proposes a radical plan: all Greek women must refuse to engage in love making until the men see reason, lay down their arms and come home to lie down with their wives in peace. The women agree to make the sacrifice and all hell breaks loose as men wander the country in an agony of unsatisfied lust. Will Lysistrata and her crew accomplish what the politicians could not?

As a double major in political science and theater education, there was some concern how to meld the two majors together. However, given the political climate within the last year, especially the climate surrounding women’s issues, it seemed like an appropriate time for the Mount to produce a show about women. Opdenaker is especially excited for the predominately female cast. It will be exciting to see so many women coming together to put on something that can have such an impact around the campus. Sometimes it is difficult to separate the arts from the political sphere in 2018, however, Lysistrata proves that the theater and the political world can and should intertwine. If you are interested in seeing the political comedy Lysistrata it will be coming to the Horning Theater at the Delaplaine Fine Arts Center April 20-22.

The spring’s Main Stage production this semester, Almost, Maine, will be sure to be a heartwarming crowd pleaser. The play is a series of nine short, somewhat absurdist vignettes that all revolve around the theme of love. The small ensemble cast has just started rehearsals. Many of the cast are excited to bring such a warm show to the Mount during a time of the year that many of us can get a little down in the dumps. The production of Almost, Maine can be seen in the Horning Theater March 15 thru the 17.

Shea Rowell, member of the Mount Music Society, gave some insight on events the Society is planning on offering in the spring. In addition to café nights and album reviews, the society also plans to host a "thon" style event with a bit of a twist. Another exciting event that the Mount Music Society will be hosting is a trip to see Waitress, the Musical at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore, Maryland. Waitress, tells the story of Jenna, a waitress with a knack for baking who is unhappily married to her husband Earl. She unexpectedly becomes pregnant, falls in love with her Gynecologist, and begins an affair with him. Jenna copes with her unhappy marriage through baking, and enters a pie contest in hopes that she can escape the monotonous life she is leading. The Art department also promises to present some interesting exhibits, as well as student shows and senior portfolio presentations.

Alpha Psi Omega, the theater honors fraternity on the Mount campus, is planning an event to produce is a theater workshop focused on the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) side of theater. Science and Math have taken over many industries, and the theater is no exception. Professor Ben Buhrman has offered to host an event showcasing the many different jobs and outlets that the theater offers in areas other than acting. As an educational theater program, the Visual and Performing Arts department makes every effort to appeal to any and all students, not just those with an interest in the arts. Another event that is in the works is a contemporary dance workshop, with a focus on dance for the musical theater. Both events are set to be in March or April.

Mount Saint Mary’s dedication to the fine arts is proven in the passion and hard work of her students, faculty and staff. The theater and arts productions at the Mount are open to the public. For more information contact the Delaplaine Fine Arts Center on the Mount Campus at: 301-447-5308.

Read other articles by Hannah Opdenaker