TRAVEL HERE: SCHILLER’S MARY STUART AT MARGARET JONSSON THEATER
Mary Stuart is not the first show I’ve seen at UD and I hope it’s not the last. About twice a year, the alumni department sends us invitations to see a student production, because my husband is an alum of their MBA program. We like some of the shows better than others, but it’s always a treat.
Margaret Jonsson Theater
Dramatic productions at UD are presented in the Margaret Jonnson Theater. It’s a small venue, with seating built around most of the stage. It’s not quite theater in the round, but almost. The stage is circular with only a small section connecting it to the backstage. Most entrances and exits happen in the aisles. When the lights go down, the crew erupts from backstage and sets up for the next scene. Instead of curtains or scenery hiding the backstage activity, large wooden doors do the job and sometimes open up for a change of backdrop. For some productions, there are full sets with furnishings and props. For others, the staging is very minimalistic. For Mary Stuart, the staging was very stark.
Alumni Receptions, Intermissions and Concessions
The university very graciously hosts a reception for alumni before each show. The theater is so small the refreshments must be served outside. There is virtually is no lobby in the theater, just some narrow hallways leading past the restrooms and into the theater. For some reason, every time we’ve visited one of these events, spring or fall semester, it’s been chilly. Especially in the fall, because the sun sets before we arrive. Things were no different for this event. We clutched our glasses of wine and munched on tasty snacks in a pool of light at the front of the theater, wishing they had the sort of heaters restaurants provide on their patios.
Because of the absence of a lobby, concessions are set up outside, too. Candy bars, bottles of water and other options are sold by chilly theater students. Always well-satisfied from the pre-show reception we’ve never bought anything, but we do usually walk around outside for a few moments between acts.
UD’s Mary Stuart turned out to be a favorite among favorites. We’ve enjoyed most of the shows quite a bit, but this production stood out. The acting is always amazing. These kids are so talented, especially the stars of the productions. Sometimes the minor characters of the cast are a little rough around the edges, but the primary roles are filled by accomplished actors and actresses.
One of the things I appreciate most about the productions is the attention to detail in costuming. Because the seating is so close to the stage, the audience sees every inch of what the players are wearing. Each outfit is a masterpiece, beautifully executed and worn with the familiarity of a favorite pair of jeans.
The costumes for Mary Stuart were particularly gorgeous: high lace ruffs, crinolines, delicious fabrics and yards of gold chain. There was no need for extensive scenery and props, the costumes carried the day. The audience knew they were watching royalty. Even in her imprisonment, Mary Stuart wore a elegant black velvet dress with immaculate cuffs. Elizabeth was resplendent.
The two leading ladies, Maria Hotovy playing Elizabeth I and Zeina Mari as Mary Queen of Scots, played well off one another. Mari played a desperate woman in a desperate situation. During her crisis her every word out of her mouth was a shriek. But the Oscar goes to Hotovy. She made it clear her character was in just as serious a crisis, but she played cool and calculating.
I know history pretty well, especially English history, but I still caught myself hoping this time the poor beleaguered Queen of Scots would get a break. Obviously, she didn’t, but after so much shrill screaming, she faced her end with amazing grace. If you want to know more about the production, go to the new On Stage magazine. If you want to keep up with the drama department and know what’s coming up check out the drama department’s Facebook page. I hope to see you at the theater sometime soon.
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