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Crimson Masque season opens with student-run productions

09/23/2013
While the Narrator (Mike Bennett of Monmouth) looks on, Army (Rachel Whitlock of Sandwich) and Navy (Sarah Schmitt of Marengo, facing camera) play a game of chess in a scene from a dress rehearsal of Neil Simon’s “The Good Doctor.”
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Monmouth College students are in charge of the academic year’s first two Crimson Masque performances, handling all of the directing and producing responsibilities, in addition to their normal acting roles.
 
Jan de Hartog’s “The Fourposter,” directed by senior Merissa Lewiston of Keokuk, Iowa, and Neil Simon’s “The Good Doctor,” directed by senior Courtney Jonsson of Compton, will share the Wells Theater stage on Oct. 5-6.  “The Fourposter” will open on Oct. 3, and “The Good Doctor” will premiere on Oct. 4, both starting at 7:30 p.m. “The Fourposter” will return on Oct. 5 at 2 p.m., followed by “The Good Doctor” at 7:30 p.m. The shows will switch those curtain times on Oct. 6.
 
“The Fourposter” is the life story of a man and a woman from the time they are newlyweds and moving into their new home, to their older years, as they prepare to move out, with the action taking place around the couple’s four-poster bed set.
 
An unnamed writer, suffering from a fit of writer’s block, speaks to audience members about his frustrations at the beginning of “The Good Doctor,” then narrates to them several of his short stories. Both shows are full of humor and are appropriate for the entire family.
 
“This is a great opportunity to work with my peers on a different level,” said Lewiston. “In some ways, I am sharing my knowledge with them, and at the same time my cast and crew are teaching me how to be a more effective director.”
 
The opportunity to direct a main stage production is one not given to undergraduates at many other colleges, which Jonsson appreciates.
 
“This will give me a chance to practice balancing my professional life with my personal life,” she said. “I am the director in rehearsal and during meetings, and the rest of the time, I am just a student at Monmouth College.”
 
Another unique feature of the performances is that they will be presented in alley-style seating. Instead of audience members sitting in the house section of Wells Theater, seating will be on the stage, on either side of the performance. Alley-style seating gives audience members a more intimate viewing of the show and will serve as a preview of the college’s downtown theatre space, which will open this spring.
 
Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and students and $4 for Monmouth College ID holders. Reservations for either show may be made my email to: theater@monmouthcollege.edu. More information is available from theatre professor Bill Wallace at 309-457-2374 or by email at billw@monmouthcollege.edu, or from the theatre department’s current season webpage at http://department.monm.edu/theatre/theater/2013-2014.htm.