MCC to Premiere “Awaken Beauty” on Feb. 17-20 in Overbrook Theater

Muskegon Community College is presenting “Awaken Beauty,” a kaleidoscope of songs, poems, scenes and artwork, on Feb. 17-20, in Overbrook Theater.

The 85-minute show begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and at 3 p.m. on Sunday. The performance is recommended for ages 12 and up.

Tickets, which are $5 for students and $10 for the general public, can be purchased online at https://mccoverbrooktheater.ludus.com/index.php?show_id=15407 or an hour-and-a-half before each performance at the Overbrook Theater Box Office. The Box Office number is (231) 777-0342. Ticket sales will be limited to allow room for social distancing. Masks are required for all when inside the building.

“This show is a completely new creation,” said Director Les Rorick, explaining that it was created through a process known as devising, in which an ensemble of theater artists collectively creates a production by starting with a theme or topic, as opposed to a script.

“In our case, a group of MCC students, faculty and community members gathered together to answer the question: ‘What does ‘beauty’ mean to you?’” he continued. “Through a series of devising sessions, poems, songs and scenes began to emerge.”

The artists used the 2022 Muskegon Arts and Humanities Festival (ahFest) theme of “beauty” as their starting point.

“Beauty is examined through multiple lenses in ‘Awaken Beauty,’ including falling in love, finding a friend, discovering the true self, and shunning superficiality,” said Rorick. “Different pieces traverse through unlikely topics, such as finding beauty in a challenging childhood, in loss, and even in death.”

“While some pieces are presented with sincerity, others are sassy or just plain goofy. It’s a theatrical presentation like none-other. There’s even a dog in the show.”

In addition to the collection of performances pieces, Awaken Beauty also employs a “frame script,” which serves as a picture frame through which to present the poems, songs, and scenes. At the beginning of the production, the audience discovers that a fictitious regime has banned free expression. In response, a group of outcast-artists seek to preserve beauty and experience love and loss along the way.

The creators, writers and cast members are Ashley Skye Erdman, Diana Casey, John Scheffler, Kennadi Hester, Lauryn Jackson, Nat Wilson, Paloma Linda, Tyler Bergquist and Walter Mrotz. Additional creators and writers include Annmarie Santos, Les Rorick, Nick Palmer, Naomi Strait, Ronnie Jewell, Tawon Cooper and Tom Bitson.

The design and production team members are: Les Rorick, director; Annemarie Santos, assistant director and stage manager; Brian Goodman, set painting; Kristina McCloskey, intimacy design; Mike Council, sound tech; Sheila Wahamaki, scenic; Susan Eyler, costumes; and Trent Klairter, lights and set construction.

The crew members are: Alison Mastee, Alyssa Wildfong, Ashton Bahr, Jemal Beverly, Lauren Streng, Madison Nunn, Seth Norman and Syndel Stressman.

“Devised Theatre has grown in popularity in the United States over the last few decades,” noted Rorick. “Many performers are interested in telling stories that directly resonate with them as people and as a result, are also creating the material they perform. Compiling short form performance into a full theatrical production is a practice that has been alive in theatre in the U.S. since the days of Vaudeville, but with other social media outlets, like YouTube and TikTok, there’s been a resurgence of interest in micro-performances.”

For more information on the play “Awaken Beauty,” contact Rorick at les.rorick@muskegoncc.edu.

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