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The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

Praise of the Week: Arena Theatre’s Last Act: ‘The Mad Ones’

Photo courtesy of Liz Kameen.
Photo courtesy of Liz Kameen.

Let me just start off by apologizing to the poor custodian who had to clean up my puddle of tears following the ending of this play. And a second apology to everyone sitting around me who had to hear my sniffles and held-back cries; yep, that’s how good this production was.

The Mad Ones was the last theatre production in the Arena Theatre prior to its upcoming demolition over winter break, and it definitely served as a fitting end and a perfect reminder of the importance of theatre in general and at Moravian University.

The main character was at a crossroads, and as Associate Professor of Theatre Professor Christopher Shorr remarked in the show’s prologue, she was not the only one. With over 270 years of history and the upcoming demolition of the theatre, I felt myself tear up during just the curtain speech.

Before this, I had never seen a play in a 360o theater before, and it was amazing to see the reactions and shared emotions of the audience across from me. It made me feel a little bit better about crying every few minutes when I could see other audience members reacting in similar fashions.

The play is upbeat, hilarious, and beautiful. Sherry Anderson as Adam, the dopey and silly boyfriend, played a hilarious rendition of a caring boyfriend who was laughably naive, and I laughed every time they dropped a quip. Ry Kral delivered a stunning performance of an overbearing, overcaring mother; I’ll be honest, the song about the patriarchy and glass ceilings, which I think was supposed to be satirical and humorous, had me in a ball of tears, so kudos there!

Ava Ferentinos, the well- behaved girl at a crossroads, and Hannah Kolonoski, her bad-girl best friend, similarly gave gut-wrenching, comical performances that I could not get enough of. Moravian seniors Ben Stefan and Jaymie Roddy serve as the musical directors for the play, so it was not surprising that the musical score was just as beautifully emotional as the play itself. Emily Kave was the performance’s stage manager, and as usual, her care and dedication to the production were evident.

Fatimah’s Part

I couldn’t have anticipated the spiral of emotions I went through when I saw The Mad Ones not once but twice. Watching a play about a character transitioning into young adulthood, dealing with internal and external losses, and feeling “mad” in the process? Sign me up!

But, in all seriousness, The Mad Ones resonated painfully, especially through its main character, Sam, who wants to define herself on her terms. Her best friend, mother, and boyfriend act as past, present, and future representations of her life and her uncertainty about what she wants to do.

Yet, in all this personal turbulence, she finds solace in one thing: driving. She tries and tries to get her license, to finally be able to drive and not have any particular destination in her life. This goal of hers involves a lot of emotional unpacking and reinventing herself as a “mad one.” Add in some comic yet heartfelt musical numbers and you have a concoction for a well-balanced play!

Seriously, I was impressed with how this play can seamlessly be both comedic and somber without having an awkward mix of the two. It will take the time to joke about dark matters but it also will diverge from the comedy and be wholly serious. I know it’s corny to say this but it really had me cracking up one minute and fighting back tears the next. I certainly wasn’t alone in being moved to tears (right, Liz?)

I also would like to express how impressed I was with the theatrical talent: Ava Ferentinos, Hannah Kolonoski, Sherry Anderson, and Ry Kral, you all brought so much punch and pizazz to your roles and really brought the play to life with your respective characters. Emily Kave, as Liz said, your dedication and care to this production is so evident and you truly made this play so unforgettable in the legacy of Arena Theatre.

This was both my first and last time seeing an Arena Theatre performance. And, being the last Arena Theatre production makes it so maddingly perfect. How fitting it is to have a play’s plot revolving around changes and sentimental send-offs when our very own theatre was going to have its own send-off by the end of the semester?

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