When the wedding of two theater students coincides with the first play of the school year, the production ends up with something rare: a majority freshmen cast.
Next week the Tower Players perform Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well,” the final production directed by Director of Theatre George Angell. The cast features mostly underclassmen, including 10 freshmen, and a professional actress, since many upperclassmen had already marked their friends’ wedding on their calendars and decided to sit this fall drama out because of the conflicting dates.
The adaptation, set in the 1960s, follows heroine Helena as she relentlessly pursues Bertram, the son of the countess for whom she works. Although she wins his hand in marriage, he refuses to accept a wife of inferior rank. She refuses to give up, and hidden identity and seduction ensue.
“It has been called one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’ because of the vast range of locations and production value it takes to pull off such a show, so this has been no small undertaking for the Tower Players,” said senior theater major Glynis Gilio, who plays Helena.
The cast members had to learn not only the meaning behind the Bard’s Elizabethan English and 16th-century pop culture references, but also how to deliver them in a way that the audience can understand.
Jennifer Weil, the professional actress who plays the Countess, was invited to the role by the play’s director.
“George mentioned the play and the role last semester when I was on campus. I was and am delighted that it became a reality and am honored beyond measure to be performing at Hillsdale,” Weil said in an email.
The majority underclassmen cast benefited some new students, like Jake Mckie.
“It makes room for a lot of freshmen, like myself,” said freshman Jake McKie, who plays Lavatch the clown, the fool archetype in the play. “I’m kind of thankful for that…Part of me would like to know if I would’ve got the part without that happening.”
“All’s Well That Ends Well” runs Wednesday, Oct. 11 to Saturday, Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. every evening and at 2 p.m. on Oct. 14.
“Bring overripe vegetables to throw at me, if I do poorly,” McKie said. “Nice ’n’ squishy, but not bad smelling.”