posted February 18, 2009

Hope Theatre to Present “Big Love” Feb. 27-March 7

Hope College Theatre will present "Big Love" by Charles Mee in the DeWitt Center main theatre beginning Friday, Feb. 27.

Performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27-28, and Wednesday through Saturday, March 4-7, all with an 8 p.m. curtain.

Charles Mee's "Big Love" is based on the ancient Greek play "The Suppliant Women (or The Danaids)" by Aeschylus. In both versions, 50 sisters are unwillingly contracted to marry their 50 cousins. The women flee to Italy seeking refuge, only to be followed by their betrothed. In Mee's adaptation, mayhem ensues when both parties arrive at the villa; women and men throwing themselves to the ground, pop songs arise, dancing occurs,  and ultimately, murder. Unable to escape the marriage, 49 of the brides kill 49 of the grooms, but one bride falls in love. This, according to Mee, is about the same odds as today.

Joining Daina Robins, who is the production's director, and the Hope College Theatre design faculty are two guest artists:  Dr. Andrew Dell'Olio, who is a professor of philosophy at Hope; and, continuing Hope Theatre's successful collaboration with The House Theatre of Chicago, choreographer Tommy Rapley.

Dell'Olio plays Italian patriarch Piero. Originally from Staten Island, N.Y., Dell'Olio began acting in school plays and musicals in middle school and continued throughout high school. Choosing a philosophy degree, Dell'Olio attended Rutgers College in New Brunswick, N.J. Dell'Olio then went to Columbia University in New York City for graduate school. In 1993, after teaching at Wittenberg University for a couple of years, Dell'Olio began teaching at Hope.

"'Big Love' is no more controversial than human life itself," Dell'Olio said.  "Human life is often raw and difficult and messy, and the Greeks knew this and did not shy away from showing it in theatre as a way for us to work through these issues for ourselves."

The Hope theatre faculty has arranged talk-back sessions after the performances with Hope College faculty from across the campus to address issues presented in "Big Love."

Playwright Charles Mee leaves his script open for play; Rapley and the students have a lot of freedom to explore, but the comfort of a solid story to fall back upon. Rapley has great respect for Mee, calling him generous and honest. As Rapley put it, "I admire how he's honest--how he begs, borrows and steals great works. Which is something we do at The House."

Faculty members working on the production team are Michelle Bombe, costume designer; Perry Landes, sound designer; Daina Robins, director; and Richard Smith, co-properties and set designer. Serving as technical director is staff member Paul Anderson.

Several students are also serving on the production team: freshman Elizabeth Dwyer of Ypsilanti, assistant stage manager; senior Patrick Feder of Grand Rapids, master electrician; junior Jeri Frederickson of Wheaton, Ill., stage manager; senior Mike Olson of Holland, lighting designer; freshman AmberLynn Scheeringa of Lansing, assistant stage manager; and senior Katie Terpstra of Zeeland, co-properties designer.

The cast members include: sophomore Stuart Beaman of Hoffman Estates, Ill., as Leo; freshman Annelise Belmonte of Northbrook, Ill., as Bella; freshman Noah Busman of Scotia, N.Y., as Oed; sophomore Brianna Cooney of Waterford as a bride; freshman Seth Hoard of Traverse City as a groom; freshman Kelsey Cratty of Rockford, Ill., as Lydia; sophomore Natalie Dalm of Richland as a bride; senior Toni Gordon of Grand Rapids as a bride; sophomore Ben Hertel of Holland as Guiliano; freshman Aaron Mutschler of Holland as a groom; freshman Erica Long of Cadillac as a bride; freshman Michael Naughton of Prospect Heights, Ill., as a groom; freshman Robert Phillips of Lindenwold, N.J., as a groom; sophomore Jackie Richards of Worthington, Ohio, as a bride; freshman Kalyn N.C. Rivers of Flossmoor, Ill., as a bride; freshman Denton Smith of Lake Forest, Ill., as a groom; junior Brittany Stock of St. Charles, Ill., as Thyona; freshman John Telfer of Western Springs, Ill., as Constantine; senior Katie Terpstra of Zeeland as Eleanor; junior Josh Teusink of Zeeland as a groom; sophomore Jenny Tremblay of Oostburg, Wis., as Olympia; freshman Madison Tustin of Plainwell as a bride; freshman Christoff Visscher of Silver Spring, Md., as Nikos; freshman Kara Williams of Saline as a bride; and sophomore Christine Worden of Midland as a bride.

Tickets for "Big Love" are $7 for regular admission, $5 for Hope faculty and staff, and $4 for students and senior citizens, and are available at the Hope College ticket office located in the main lobby of the DeVos Fieldhouse.  The ticket office is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and may be called at (616) 395-7890.  In addition, the theatre lobby ticket office in the DeWitt Center will be open on performance nights shortly before 8 p.m.

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