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Athletes Lingle, Stumbo making stage debuts in ‘The Wolves’

Barry McNamara
The cast for "The Wolves" pose on the Wells Theater set. Brie Stumbo is pictured on the far left in the second row. Hannah Lingle is second from the left in the front row.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Two of the cast members in Monmouth College’s production of The Wolves will make their stage debut this week, but neither is new to performing in front of a live audience.

Hannah Lingle ’19 of Muscatine, Iowa, and Brie Stumbo ’22 of Shelley, Idaho, are both members of the Fighting Scots women’s soccer team. That makes them very familiar with the premise of Pulitzer Prize-finalist Sarah DeLappe’s debut play, which focuses on the dialogue among nine teenage soccer players. The Wolves will be performed Feb. 21-24 at the College’s Wells Theater.

“My soccer experience helps, because I don’t have to remember how to pass a ball,” said Lingle of the action sequences in the play, of which there are many. “The other cast members have to remember their lines AND remember their soccer movements.”

In that sense, Stumbo and Lingle are the veterans of the cast.

“It’s been fun to watch the other girls and see their skills improve,” Stumbo said. “We try to help them a little bit.”

“We warm up before rehearsals and they all practice juggling (a soccer ball with their feet),” said Lingle. “You can see they’re getting better.”

As for what the new actors need to work on, Stumbo cited projection.

“I need to talk loud enough that people can hear me,” she said. “That’s usually not a problem for me, but now I have to be able to reach people in the back row of the theater.”

Lingle said that one of her biggest challenges has been sorting through the play’s rapid-fire, overlapping dialogue and “remembering my cues for when I say my lines. Especially if your line is the line that the audience really needs to hear.”

Coaching the play

Director Doug Rankin, who has referred to himself as the “coach” of the play – even posing like a coach behind his squad in the “team” shot of the cast – put out a call for student-athletes to audition for the play. He’s happy that Lingle and Stumbo took him up on his offer.

“They’ve been great,” he said. “They’ve just been so willing. It makes a difference when you work with someone you haven’t worked with before. If you know what they’ve done, you might stereotype them a bit, but at the beginning, I just told them, ‘I don’t know what you can do. Show me what you can do.’”

As it turns out, both actors wound up in roles very suited for their personality. Stumbo plays the “new kid” on the team, which is appropriate for a freshman who’s more than 1,000 miles from her hometown.

“My sister said, ‘Wow, you’re cast as yourself,’” said Stumbo. “I think my character and I are more similar than I’d like to admit.”

Lingle’s character is described as “childlike and determined to stay that way.” Even though she’s one of the older members of the cast, that description fits.

“It was kind of an accident that she got cast in that role,” said Rankin of the initial process. “But as we went along, it turns out that Hannah IS that character.”

Freedom to try something new

Lingle said she took on the acting challenge because of a desire to try new things.

“I’ve never been in a play before,” she said. “This is my senior year, and it’s my last chance to try something new while I’m still in college. I’ve really enjoyed meeting new people.”

That’s been a major perk for Stumbo, as well.

“Coming into this play, I only knew Hannah and one other girl,” she said. “Now, when I come to rehearsal, I’m just like, ‘Friends!’”

In fact, Stumbo said she has enjoyed the experience so much that “I would consider doing another play. I have more than enough time when we’re out of soccer season.”

Rankin said the way Lingle and Stumbo have acclimated to their new surroundings has been impressive.

“I really can’t tell they didn’t all know each other before. It seems like they’ve been friends all their lives.”

Both actors admitted that nerves started to show the closer they got to opening night.

“I’m definitely nervous, but I’m just going to try to act like I’m playing soccer in front of fans, which I’ve done for a long time,” said Lingle.

Stumbo said other emotions are emerging, as well.

“I’m excited,” she said. “We’ve worked hard for this. I’ll be sad when we’re done.”

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Monmouth College will present “The Wolves” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21-23 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 24 at Wells Theater. Tickets can be purchased online at Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, and $6 for students and faculty with a Monmouth College ID.