MMNT to showcase newest production

The Mary Moody Northen Theatre prepares for their second play of the year: “These Shining Lives.” The drama will be performed from Nov. 10-20, with tickets costing $28 for adults, $22 for faculty and older adults and $15 for students.

Written by Melanie Marnich and based on a true story, “These Shining Lives” portrays a group of women in 1920s Illinois determined to remain strong despite the company they work for slowly poisoning them. The university’s production is directed by Lara Toner Haddock, who has directed over 20 productions at the Austin Playhouse. This is Haddock’s first time directing at the university.

“Because the material is so dark, our director wanted to create transitions and staging that was engaging and energetic,” assistant director and senior Mia Ramirez said.“This helps the actors from getting too melodramatic in style and helps keep the audience interested.”

The cast for this production consists of student-actors Luis Arellano, Tyler Donovan, Sonia Mariah Fonseca, Christina Hollie, Kyndal Rinewalt and Marie Ritchie. Guest artist and university alumnus Stephen Marchantel is also featured in the show. 

“The rehearsal process here at the theatre department specifically always pushes me to be better, which I’m grateful for,” Hollie said. “Working in this environment has really pushed me to grow while also learning new things.”

Crew members for this production are hard at work behind the scenes. The creative team includes designers Susan Branch Towne for costume, Natalie George for lighting, K. Eliot Haynes for sound, Leilah Stewart for scenes and props, Chloe Cox for hair and makeup along with Robert Tolaro as production stage manager.

According to Ramirez, lights, sounds and costumes add vibrancy to any stage production, especially ones on Mary Moody Northen Theatre’s arena stage.

“It can be difficult to create a good stage picture that has enough interest to keep audience attention without blocking anyone’s view and while also giving the actor somewhere solid to work off of,” Ramirez said.

The theater’s first production of the season,“The Miser,” portrayed the hilarity of family dynamics and physical comedy. Conversely, “These Shining Lives” emphasizes the gut-wrenching story of dying women in the face of adversity.

“The challenging part about acting is not taking home what your character is going through,” Hollie said.

“These Shining Lives” is expected to convey to the audience a true story of women uniting to overcome challenges created by those in power, all while running out of time.

“I hope people take away that we should start listening when women speak up and that life is short – we should love those around us while we can,” Hollie said.