Directing Stage Performances Highlights Senior Theatre Capstone Projects


The Marywood University Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance presents two stage dramas directed by seniors completing their Capstone projects in Theatre. The dramas,  Keely and Du, written by Jane Martin and directed by Marywood University senior Sean Patrick Gibbons, and Winners, written by Brian Friel and directed by Marywood senior Carolyn Ruggiero, will be presented on November 20 and 21 at 7:30 p,m. at the Sette LaVerghetta Center for the Performing Arts in the Black Box Theatre. The cast for Keely and Du will include students David Brace, Devon McFadden, Rene Arscott, Fraser Ross-MacCormack, and the cast for Winners will include students Hannah Botsford, Shane Hirschler, Nate Bradley, and Jessica Brookes. 

            For a Capstone Project in Theatre, a student has to demonstrate the breadth and depth of skills acquired during the four-year university program. In the case of Mr. Gibbons and Ms. Ruggiero, they are directing a public performance of a play, indicating their ability to unify all elements of a production into a cohesive whole. A student's production choice has to make a statement about his or her philosophy of theatre, and the student must develop a sense of ensemble within the production company. A talk-back takes place after each production for audience feedback, and a post-production critique is conducted with all theatre majors in the program for student and faculty feedback.

            Keely and Du was chosen by Sean Patrick Gibbons, because he is interested in contemporary works that provoke thought.

"I want the audience to leave wondering whether or not communication is deteriorating today's society," stated Gibbons. "And, if it is, what can we do about it and why does it happen...how different would our society be, if we could be leave opinions outside and sit down and actually talk?"

Playwright Jane Martin created two characters who develop an unlikely bond by exchanging political biases with human concern and understanding.

"The play doesn't make decisions for you. It doesn't choose a side. It could apply to any audience member," cast member Rene Arscott said. "Keely is a very honest and truthful character-very real."

            Winners was selected by Carolyn Ruggiero because she is a fan of Brian Friel's work.

"It's simple, beautiful, yet makes you think. This show in particular is a beautifully tragic, youthful love story that has a significant amount of meaning...what the power of love can ultimately do to someone," Ruggerio said. 

Senior Hannah Botsford, who is part of the cast, said, "I read the script of Winners when I was a freshman. I fell in love with Maggie. She is unique because she is hysterically funny, but at the same time she is complicated and deep. I like this play because of the story and the straight, free delivery you see, and yet, at the same time, you see that there is a dark cloud looming over all of it-very  Romeo and Juliet."

The Artistic Staff for the productions include Marywood University students Nicole Dobosh, Lighting Designer; Caitlyn Jonna Burke, Costume Designer; Elizabeth Smith, Props Designer.

              The Management Staff are students Victoria Moshy, Stage Manager; Caitlin Cummings, Assistant Stage Manager.

              The Production Staff includes students Kelly Williams, Light Tech; Jaime Hargreeves, Audio Tech; Caitlyn McCloughan and Becky Lighthizer, Costume Mistresses; Jessa Casner, House Manager; Jillian Hetsko, Assistant House Manager; Chelsea Minkoff, Publicity; Alicia Capazzi, Graphic Artist. Production Assistants include: Faith Rivera and Dana Bartlomeo.