It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of, and cheerleader/advocate for the wealth of young talent that currently abounds in Columbia. This weekend, audiences get chance to see some of the best and brightest, in Neil LaBute‘s The Shape of Things, running for two nights only, Friday 6/28 and Saturday 6/29 at Workshop Theatre.
Recent USC grad and local musician Bakari Lebby first directed this play a couple of months ago in USC’s intimate Benson Theatre. He wrote one of the best guest blogs we’ve ever run, which you can see here, and my review (not technically a real review, as I saw a run-through rehearsal some days before the show opened) is here. One excerpt:
For me, you could have successive nights of Hugh Jackman doing Les Mis live with a million-dollar stage set…. and I’d still rather see four dedicated kids on a bare stage doing something meaningful to them. This show is sometimes described as a dark comedy, a serio-comedy, or a “dramedy.” I’d describe it as a dark fable about contemporary relationships and society, set in the context of college dating, with some great moments of humor (in the vein of perhaps Sex and the City or Friends) as well as some chilling implications about the choices that people make for love.
It was a great theatrical experience, and Lebby hit a home-run with his directorial debut, aided in large part by Patrick Dodds (who played Moritz in Spring Awakening at Trustus, then sang “Those Magic Changes” as Doody in Grease at Town) as the protagonist’s jerk best friend, and Katie Foshee as the female lead Evelyn, a role played on Broadway by Rachel Weisz. I first saw Foshee and Lebby in the ensemble of jocks and brainiacs in High School Musical at Workshop in 2008, in which a radiant Giulia Marie Dalbec played Sharpay.
Now Lebby is bringing his production to Workshop for a special limited run, with Dodds and Dalbec taking over the leads. As he describes it, “Jeni (McCaughan) at Workshop asked me if we could bring the show back for two nights, and I said yeah! We offered the last cast their roles back, but the timing didn’t work out for anyone other than Patrick. Patrick and I talked about the option of having him play (protagonist) Adam. We were both intrigued by it, because it would be a good chance for him to play a role in unfamiliar territory, in a show that he already has a handle on. That’s just a really cool opportunity I think. He’s doing a great job at it, and he is a different Adam than the last one, which is cool.”
“Giulia is also a different Evelyn. It makes this production a bit different, which is really cool to check out. Giulia is (like) my big sister and we haven’t worked on a show together since High School Musical when I was 17, so I’m really stoked to get to work with her talent, and we already have a type of comfort and knowledge of each other, so we play well together. If that makes sense. It’s always fun for me to see her in straight plays since we don’t get a lot of that out of her.”
Dalbec was almost every play produced in the Midlands over the last 5 or 6 years, playing everyone from Gypsy to Elle in Legally Blonde to Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and was profiled in the March 2013 Jasper as one of Columbia’s “Leading Ladies.” Dodds was featured as one of “Columbia’s Theatrical Brat Pack” in the November 2012 issue. Both have been absent from major Columbia stages for far too long (actually, just a matter of months, but that’s too long for me!) and without giving away the show’s plot, there are perfect, ideal parts for each to play. LaBute is an eloquent poet of the stage, whose dialogue is so natural and realistic that his way with words is sometimes overlooked, just as his themes, which center around familiar, commonplace scenarios of modern relationships, are sometimes dismissed as not being important. I suggest that the way people treat each other in their one-on-one relationships might just be the most important theme for humanity.
Joining this new cast are Kayla Cahill and Jeremiah Redmond. Lebby says “Kayla Cahill is originally from New Jersey, and has a BA in Theatre from USC. She graduated in 2012. We were good friends in school. She was in Romeo & Juliet directed by Robert Richmond as the Nurse, and (played) Queen Elizabeth in The History of Queen Elizabeth I. Jeremiah Redmond is from Lexington, SC and has most recently been seen in High Voltage’s Reservoir Dogs and in Trustus’s production of Kitty Kitty Kitty directed by Daniel Bumgardner.”
~ August Krickel