Ouachita Baptist University’s Department of Theatre Arts will present the spring theatre production, Harrison, TX, in Ouachita’s Verser Theatre on Feb. 21-25. The series of one-act plays by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Horton Foote will include “Blind Date,” “The Dancers” and “Spring Dance,” all of which are set in the fictional town of Harrison, Texas. Performances will be held at 7:30 each evening, except Sunday, which will feature a 2:30 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $8 each and are available for purchase at www.obu.edu/boxoffice.
Daniel Inouye, assistant professor of theatre arts and director of the play, handpicked the three one-acts because he said he enjoys “Horton Foote’s work and his capacity to create nuanced and interesting characters within his plays.”
The common thread for all three one-acts “is the idea of a dance and what it means to people who are trying to connect with others,” Inouye said. “In essence, that is what all the characters in the plays are striving after, connection and intimacy with other humans. Each play looks at this striving—this human connection—that we all have, through a slightly different lens.”
The first one-act, “Blind Date,” is the comedy. Set in the 1920s, it’s a touching and funny story of what befalls a fluttery, well-meaning aunt when she tries to arrange a date for her visiting—and uncooperative—niece.
“Boy meets girl; girl doesn’t like boy. Aunt and uncle try to get girl and boy to connect; hilarity ensues,” said Sara Cat Williams, a freshman biology major from Roland, Ark., who plays the aunt, Dolores. She is a “meddlesome but very loving aunt who is attempting to set up her niece Sarah Nancy … with a young man named Felix.”
The cast for “Blind Date” also includes Stacy Hawking, a freshman musical theatre major from Sherwood, Ark.; Ben Perry, a senior musical theatre major from North Little Rock, Ark.; and Garrett Whitehead, a junior musical theatre major from Cleburne, Texas.
The second one-act, “The Dancers,” is the serious drama. Horace is an “almost-off-to-college teenager whose obsessive sister is constantly trying to force him to be involved with people, when he’d rather be reading a book,” said Timothy Drennan, a senior musical theatre major from Paron, Ark., who plays the teenager Horace. “She sets him up on a date, which launches him into the world of girls, completely foreign territory to him, and the show focuses on his interactions with one in particular, Mary Catherine Davis.
“He wants desperately to be able to escape his introverted isolation, but he’s scared of conversations,” Drennan added. “Horace is more or less me if I had never come out of my shell in high school. People were rather scary to me and I felt a lot safer reading a book than talking to other people. So, playing Horace is, in a weird sense, like visiting an old friend.”
Other cast members include: Mattie Bogoslavsky, a freshman musical theatre major from North Little Rock, Ark.; Amanda Murray, a senior musical theatre major from Racine, Wis.; Kaylee Nebe, a junior musical theatre major from Mesquite, Texas; Alexis Nichols, a senior musical theatre major from Sugar Land, Texas; Joe Ochterbeck, a junior theatre major from Maumelle, Ark.; Jessica Smith, a sophomore musical theater major from Van Buren, Ark.; Ben Stidham, a sophomore musical theatre major from Dallas, Texas; Cami Willis, a junior musical theatre major from Flower Mound, Texas; and Betsy Wilson, a senior musical theatre major from Katy, Texas.
The final one-act, “Spring Dance,” is the tragedy. Heather White, a senior musical theatre major from Houston, Texas, plays Annie, a young housewife who has been confined to a sanatorium. She and the other inmates are completely divorced from reality.
“Her father was shot and killed in front of her when she was younger,” White said. “But, surprisingly, it wasn’t until the birth of her second child that the side effects from the trauma set in. … Her husband did the best he could to take care of her until the problem became too severe and he had to send her to the asylum.
“The play is all about how the people in this asylum are trying so desperately to maintain connection with one another, and there are moments that are just so sweet that they make you want to cry,” White added. “’Spring Dance’ isn’t just about a bunch of crazy people. It’s about real people that have been brought through difficult circumstances and what it is about them that got them to this point. … I’m excited for the audience to get to come on the ride with these characters and experience and feel the things they feel.”
Other cast members of “Spring Dance” include: Kayla Esmond, a senior musical theatre major from Burleson, Texas; Shannon Huntsman, a sophomore speech communications major from Little Rock, Ark.; and Cody Myers, a senior musical theatre and psychology double major from Van Buren, Ark.
Jacob Sturgeon, a senior musical theatre major from Pine Bluff, Ark., serves as the assistant director for the production, as well as the sound designer. Gemma Giomard, a senior musical theatre major from DeSoto, Texas, is the stage manager, and Bethany Gere, a sophomore musical theatre major from White Hall, Ark., is the assistant stage manager.
Mary Handiboe, associate professor of theatre arts, serves as the costume designer while Lacey Johnson, a senior history major from Rancho Mirage, Calif., is the costume crew head.
Jordan Miller, a senior musical theatre major from Rockwall, Texas, serves as the makeup designer.
Eric Phillips, professor of theatre arts, serves as the scenic and lighting designer. Marshall Pope, the theatre shop technical director, serves as the shop technical director for the production. Sarah Davis, a senior theatre and Biblical studies major from Bedford, Texas, serves as both the assistant lighting designer and light board operator.
Aaron Pinion, a freshman theatre major from Tulsa, Okla., serves as both the assistant sound designer and soundboard operator.
Dallas Sleeman, a freshman theatre major from Kentwood, Mich., serves as the properties crew head.
Caroline Cain, a freshman theatre major from Niamey, Niger, and Emily Shull, a freshman theatre major from Little Rock, Ark., serve as the house managers. Cody Myers, a cast member in “Spring Dance,” also serves as the publicity coordinator.
Tickets may be purchased at the Jones Performing Arts Center Box Office weekdays from 1-5 p.m. and one hour before show times. Tickets may also be purchased with credit card by phone or online at www.obu.edu/boxoffice. For more information, call the box office at (870) 245-5555 during regular box office hours. Also, each current OBU student may receive one free ticket to the show by presenting his or her OBU ID at the box office.
By Ryleigh Salmon