By Nickey Siegerman
It’s a new year and a new season of theatre, and our friends over at Actors Creating Theatre have wasted no time in getting ready for their first show of the year. As has become tradition, ACT is starting off the year with their fall intensive with only a month to learn lines, stage directions and characters and pull off a show.
“Of Good Stock,” written by Melissa Ross, is a 2015 play that revolves around three sisters, the daughters of a world-famous author, as they reunite for one weekend in their childhood home.
As each of them catches up on what’s going on in their respective lives, tensions rise and they begin to butt heads. Fueled by alcohol, emotion and their shared history, the sisters and the various men in their lives must navigate their strained relationships to get through their hellish weekend in one piece.
This year’s director, junior Zach Lentz, and his assistant, sophomore Alex Crispo, have been working tirelessly since their show was cast on Sept.1. With a cast total of six people, the small group has been sharing laughs, goofing off between scenes and learning their lines all within a three-week span. Now, with one week to go, the crew has been brought in to rehearsals and regular run-throughs have begun.
Since his freshman year in ACT, Lentz has been slowly inching his way to the top director position. He started out as the assistant director for the 10-minute plays ACT put on in February of 2017 and was cast as a lead in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged” the same month.
Last spring, he assistant-directed the student-written play “Briefcase “ with Ben Winn, and this summer was asked to direct his first show with Crispo as his assistant. So with all that in mind, I asked Lentz how this journey has been.
“It’s been one hell of a wild ride. I started here with no experience in directing, but ACT saw something in me and was willing to give me opportunities to prove myself,” Lentz said with beaming pride. “There’s nothing that makes your heart swell more than when the club you’ve been part of since day one trusts you enough to place you at the head of one of their shows.”
But, as we all know, being part of any club in college while also being a student is difficult—especially when you’re in charge of everyone in the room. “Being director has simultaneously been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my college career,” he admitted.
“Going to rehearsal every night and seeing our cast have so much fun with their performances makes everything worth it and it makes me so happy that I get to be part of this amazing production. I wouldn’t trade my time with the cast and crew for anything.”
Lentz also mentioned that having Crispo, a first-time assistant director has helped him stay on track and organized. I asked her what it’s been like starting her second year of college as an assistant.
“It’s been such an exciting ride so far,” said Crispo. “I always admired my director in high school and all the hard work he put into our shows. It always inspired me to do anything I set my mind to. It’s been such an ethereal experience.”
She also admitted, “It was overwhelming at first, but with Zach guiding me and helping me along the way, I’ve become to proud of what we’re doing. We’re bringing this show to life. The best part of it all is watching the cast make the characters their own, running the lines, even building the set. It’s such a dream come true.”
So the directors are ready to go, but are the cast members? After almost no time being on stage her last two years in ACT, Abby Greco, a junior, former executive board member and two-time director has landed her first role in “Of Good Stock” as the youngest Stockton sister, Celia. Greco was part of last year’s “Cabaret” ensemble, and has spent her years in ACT directing “Cabaret” and assistant directing last year’s musical hit “Legally Blonde.”
“It’s wild to me that I got a lead in this show,” Greco said, happily. “I feel like I’ve done basically everyone on the theatre spectrum—directing, assistant directing, stage managing, stage crew, tech crew, and performing in an ensemble—but this is the first time I really get to focus on my acting skills and get super in-depth with a character. I’m used to having a lot of responsibility when it comes to shows, but being a lead in one comes with all new challenges and responsibilities that I’m really excited to get to explore.”
With that all in mind, she told me that, as cheesy as it is, her favorite part about being in this show is the cast, and she feels so lucky that she gets to work with so many talented people. “We’ve been given such a dynamic script to play around with that has not only been incredibly fun to get to dissect but will also be incredibly fun for the audience to watch,” said Greco.
It should be noted that this show contains copious amounts of explicit language and discusses sensitive topics, so if you’re planning on bringing kids to the show, please do so with caution.
This show is an emotional and hilarious rollercoaster. Be advised, coming to see this masterpiece might cause you to feel emotional. Tickets are $5 and go on sale Oct. 1. You can purchase them at the information desk in the MSU or online through KU Presents. Don’t miss your chance to see this incredible show.