SALISBURY – A dark comedy that deals with big issues, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” plays in Catawba College’s Hedrick Little Theatre Feb. 19-23. The College Theatre Department offers performances at 6:55 p.m. Feb. 19 and 20, and at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21-23.
The play, written by Academy Award and Tony Award winner, Tom Stoppard, takes two small characters from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and turns them into larger than life comics in his hysterical and absurdist piece.
Catawba Theatre Arts Associate Professor, Dr. Beth Homan, says the play deals with “life/death, fate/free will, illusion/reality and does so in a very thoughtful, existential way, while at the same time pointing out the frequent absurdity of human existence.” Her plan is “to showcase the work of one of our greatest living playwrights as well as the intellect and intuition of a fine company of young actors.”
“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” relies heavily on the manipulation of the English language. The shear craftsmanship of Stoppard’s writing makes it stand out as a 20th century masterpiece. Catawba will showcase Stoppard’s piece as a staged reading, a feature that makes it unique within the Theatre Department’s current production season. When asked what she hopes the audience will leave with, Homan simply says, “Food for thought and a good laugh.”
The cast is led by Cody Gasque of Salisbury and Katie Johnson of Myersville, Md., as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, respectively. Rounding out the wonderful ensemble are John Millbank of Carrboro; Jean White of Bluffton, S.C.; Jerry Archer of Candler; Gabriella Bressi of Villanova, Pa.; Bristol Glass of Concord; Melissa Tarduno of Indian Trail; Sean Henderson of Concord; Daniel Brown of Atlanta, Ga.; Ryn Crawford of Concord; Chelsea Retalic of Concord; and Jamie Caputo of Greensboro. Local guest artist and Catawba Theatre Arts adjunct faculty member, Craig Kolkebeck, is the Player.
The Masters of Design include Catawba College faculty members David Pulliam, placing the set, and Christopher Zink, lighting the lights and assuming the job of technical director. Student leadership is provided by senior, Jeffrey Salerno of Lake Mary, Fla.; adding both audio and visual spectacle as the sound and multimedia designer; Shannon O’Donnell, a sophomore from Land O’ Lakes, Fla., as costume designer; and sophomore, Ashley O’Donnell of Rehoboth Beach, Del., calling the shots as stage manager, with the help of assistant stage manager, Forest Fugate, a freshman from Asheville.
Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for non-Catawba students and senior citizens, with group discounts available. Tickets may be purchased online at www.catawba.edu/theatretix or at the box office on the nights of the performance. For more details, call the Catawba College Theatre Box Office at (704) 637-4481.