Ouachita Baptist University’s Department of Theatre Arts will present Jim Leonard’s drama, Anatomy of Gray, in Verser Theatre Feb. 20-24. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. each night, except on Sunday, Feb. 23, which is a 2:30 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $8 each and may be purchased at www.obu.edu/boxoffice.
“Anatomy of Gray tells the story of June Muldoon and the relationships between the residents in the small town of Gray, Indiana,” said Kathleen Suit, a junior theatre arts major from Hot Springs, Ark., who plays June. “When June loses her father, she prays that God will send her town a doctor so she will never have to lose anyone again. God answers her prayer, but in the most unconventional and life changing of ways. Dr. Galen P. Gray comes into the picture just as a mysterious disease starts to plague the residents of Gray.
“This story is one of love, loss, redemption, sacrifice and life in the face of death,” Suit added. “It proves that no one, the righteous included, are exempt from the travesties of our world.”
“The play is about change and the difficulties and/or miracles that come from that change,” explained Joe Ochterbeck, a senior theatre major from Maumelle, Ark., who plays Dr. Gray. “Though moments in this show are extremely painful and sad, the show leaves me with a feeling of hope. It is how we respond to these ‘changes’ that determine what our character truly is.”
The play uses humor and sorrow to move audiences to contemplate their own mindsets and prejudices. It is a journey with a strong message of how God often answers prayer and provides hope in unexpected ways.
“I knew I wanted a poignant work that still held a great deal of humor,” said Director Mary Handiboe, associate professor of theatre arts, in choosing this year’s spring production. “I remembered Anatomy of Gray, gave it a quick read and knew it would be a great show for our department.
“Anatomy of Gray is an actor’s play. The show moves swiftly from scene to scene, and the actors have a huge challenge to bring each climactic moment to life very quickly,” Handiboe added. “I am taking the actors through some very intense character work and am excited to see how each will process connection to his or her character.”
“Preparing for June is an ongoing process that will still be happening until the moment she walks onto stage,” explained Suit. “Our whole cast has been doing an extensive amount of table work to help us become our characters. Every day we journal our character’s thoughts and feelings relating to the events they go through on stage, as well as finding our real world connections to them.”
“The cast gets really deep into our characters,” said Abby Root, a freshman speech/theatre education major from Arkadelphia, playing the role of Tiny Wingfield, the pastor’s spinster sister. “It is a very enlightening experience.”
“I am thrilled to see our department stretch and reach new heights with this show,” Suit said. “Anatomy of Gray is going to be unlike most shows you have ever seen performed on the Ouachita stage, and I am ecstatic to get to share the experience with our university and our community.”
Senior musical theatre major Garrett Whitehead of Cleburne, Texas, serves as the assistant director. The stage manager is Dallas Sleeman, a sophomore theatre major from Kentwood, Mich., assisted by freshman musical theatre major, Hannah Fender, of Maumelle, Ark. The scenic designer is Sarah Davis, a senior theatre and Christian missions double major from Bedford, Texas.
In addition to Suit, Ochterbeck and Root, members of the cast include Stacy Hawking, a sophomore musical theatre major from Sherwood, Ark., as June’s sensible mother, Rebekah; and Timothy Drennan, a senior musical theatre major from Paron, Ark., as the well-meaning, but misguided, Pastor Phineas Wingfield.
Also cast are Aaron Pinion, a sophomore theatre major from Tulsa, Okla., as good-natured and whiskey-loving Crutch Collins; Tara Clem, a junior musical theatre major from Texarkana, Texas, as his to-the-point wife, Belva; Mattie Bogoslavsky, a junior musical theatre and psychology double major from North Little Rock, Ark., as Maggie, the tavern owner; and Chad Burris, a junior musical theatre major from Alma, Ark., as Homer, a simple young farmer with a huge crush on June.
Playing townspeople are Walter Dodd, a sophomore theatre major from Little Rock, Ark.; Bethany Gere, a junior musical theatre and communication sciences disorder double major from White Hall, Ark.; Bret Sanders, a freshman musical theatre major from Jonesboro, Ark.; and Tyler Wisdom, a junior musical theatre major from Russellville, Ark.
Other lead production team members include Eric Phillips, professor of theatre arts, as the scenic design supervisor, lighting designer and technical director; Daniel Inouye, assistant professor of theatre arts, as the costume designer, with senior Lacey Johnson, a double major in theatre and history from Rancho Mirage, Ark., as the costume crew head. Ben Stidham, a senior musical theatre major from Dallas, Texas, is the sound designer, and the sound board will be run by Lauren Hutcheson, a freshman musical theatre major from Bossier City, La. The light board will be operated by Kaylee Nebe, a senior musical theatre major from Mesquite, Texas, and the scenery construction will be led by staff technical director, Marshall Pope.
More lead production team members include Tyler Ford, a freshman pre-pharmacy and theatre double major from Dayton, Texas, as the properties crew head; Cody Myers, a senior musical theatre and psychology double major from Van Buren, Ark., as the marketing and publicity manager; Alison Smith, a senior psychology major and theatre minor from Jonesboro, Ark., as the lobby designer and house manager; and Linda Hatcher, JPAC box office manager.
Tickets are $8 each and may be purchased at the Jones Performing Arts Center Box Office weekdays from 1-5 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.obu.edu/boxoffice. Students with a valid OBU ID may receive one free ticket. For more information, call the box office at (870) 245-5555 during business hours.
By Chelsea Whelpley