posted April 9, 2007

Theatre Features Premiere of Play Written at Hope

 The stage is set at Hope College for the world premiere of a production written at and for the college.

Hope College Theatre will present "Rose and the Rime" on Friday-Saturday, April 20-21, and Wednesday-Saturday, April 25-28, at 8 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre.

The show was written and created by guest artist Nathan Allen, who is the production's director, in a collaborative effort with the cast and design team.

"This production will be like nothing our audiences have seen before," said Michelle Bombe, who is a professor of theatre, director of theatre and resident costume designer at Hope. "It has been an amazing opportunity for our students to work with Nathan. His entire process revolves around developing community and ensemble. He has given the students the vocabulary and tools to develop original work that revolves around story and physical action. Nathan's company in Chicago, the House, has also been incredibly successful at bringing young people into the theatre. We would love to see that happen on our campus."

"Rose and the Rime" is set in the fictional town of Radio Falls, Mich., where it is always winter. The community has been laid waste by the terrible Rime Witch, and is a world without flowers, apples, mail or dancing - but with an abundance of snow, wind and ice cream. The shining beacon in the wintry gloom is a young girl named Rose, who takes it upon herself to make a treacherous journey to the frozen cave of the Witch in the hope of changing her town's fate.

The cast and crew have been shaping the venue to match the story. "With the aid of customized stage designs and innovative special effects, the production team has created frozen lakes, creepy forests and beach scenes, allowing the DeWitt main theatre to take on a completely new identity," Bombe noted.

Allen is the artistic director of the House Theatre Company in Chicago, Ill., and has been working with the students throughout the school year. He began in October, with monthly intensive workshops for actors, directors, technicians and writers which culminated in his residency in March and April.

"My hope is that I inspire at least a couple of students to start their own companies and make their own work after graduation," he said. "I hope I can be an empowering example that [students] can realize their aspirations."

Originally from Colorado, Allen graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2000 with a BFA in acting. After his experiences in college and abroad, Allen and friends from SMU and the British American Drama Academy moved to Chicago to start their own theatre company. Their mission was to collaborate and create a non-elitist theatre community where they could write, act, direct, and realize their own work. Within a year and a half, they had incorporated the House Theatre Company.

Allen says that coming to Hope has also been an important experience for him. He noted that he has been learning much about how to share his knowledge about a career in theatre and ways to create community and original work.

In addition to Allen, the production team for "Rose and the Rime" includes a mix of Hope students and faculty and staff. Junior Reagan Chesnut of Grand Rapids is assistant director. Bombe and junior Amanda Spaanstra of Grandville are costume co-designers. Junior Stephanie Gavin of Granville, Ohio and Richard Smith of the theatre faculty have teamed up as co-designers of scenery and props. Senior Mike Olson of Holland is the lighting designer. Sound designer is faculty member Perry Landes. Senior Kate Goetzinger of Indianapolis, Ind., is stage manager, and serving as assistant stage managers are junior Kat Bramley of Winnetka, Ill.; senior Katy Eagen of Highland Park, Ill.; and freshman Ariel Ojibway of Lansing. Paul Anderson of the Hope staff serves as the technical director for the show. Sophomore Katie Terpstra of Zeeland serves as properties liaison. Senior Adam S. Carpenter of Auburn Hills is the master electrician, and sophomore Laura Van Tassell of Spencer, Iowa, is the assistant master electrician.

Cast members include senior Jennifer Blair of Libertyville, Ill., as Ethel May-Bell; sophomore Isaac Bush of Muskegon as Charlie Sutherland; junior Dane Dandridge Clark of Grand Rapids as Hank; senior Chad Coe of Birmingham as Gary Smackhouse; senior Kate Finkbeiner of Haslett as Adelaide Avram; senior Youngmee Sharon Kwon of Ann Arbor and Tae-jon, South Korea, as Granny Sadie; senior Cody Masalkoski of Lansing as Uncle Roger; senior Kit Nykamp of Grand Haven as Betty Duncan; junior Brandon Ruiter of Grand Rapids as Jimmy Sutherland; freshman Brittany Stock of St. Charles, Ill., as Hazel Davis; junior Whitney Thomas of Granville, Ohio, as Loretta Laroche and the Rime Witch; and junior Rachel Wells of West Bend, Wis., as Rose.

Tickets for "Rose and the Rime"will all be general seating and cost $7 for regular admission, $5 for Hope faculty and staff, and $4 for students and senior citizens. Tickets are available in the ticket office inside the east entrance of the DeVos Fieldhouse, which is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, the theatre lobby ticket office in the DeWitt Center will be open on performance nights shortly before 8 p.m. The ticket office may be contacted at (616) 395-7890.

The DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Ave. between Ninth and 11th streets. The DeWitt Center is located at 141 E. 12th St., at Columbia Avenue and 12th Street.