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The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

Making the best out of a bad time

Actors and techies alike celebrate the production the the 2023 fall play
Alex E
Actor Brykin Jones portrays the pessimistic character, Hank. “The thing is I’m very much the opposite of Hank,” Jones said. “But I still felt connected to his character.”

“Marvin’s Room,” the play written by Scott McPherson, made its stage debut in 1990 in Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. Since then, it’s taken many other forms, including a film that was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role featuring Diane Keaton. Today, it’s made its way to our very own stage here at Millard West High School.

Though the show tackles a variety of distressing topics, such as death and chronic illness and disease, it manages to include lots of fun and lighthearted humor.

“Scott McPherson was battling and dealing with AIDS when he wrote it,” drama director Brooke Phillips said. “But he never stopped looking for the humor in everything.”

Phillips serves as the head of the drama department, directing the yearly musical, as well as the fall, spring and Unified plays. She held auditions for the fall show in May, at the end of the last school year.

“The audition packet was posted in the drama club Google Classroom,” sophomore Charlotte Fox said. “When you go to the audition, the directors would call up maybe two or three people on the stage. They would have us read for roles and switch everyone out, change the scene, and get a feel for the characters..”

Immediately following the return to school, rehearsals began in full swing. The cast met Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. at first before transitioning to every weekday during the month of August.

“It was stressful because school had just started, so everything started up,” junior Brykin Jones said. “But being at rehearsal was a fun experience that took away my worries.”

As the cast and crew learned to love the story of “Marvin’s Room,” they became closer with the characters.

In the first two scenes, we are introduced to our main character, Bessie (Kiley Huerta), and her recurring companion character Aunt Ruth (Carolyn Chapin), as well as the unseen Marvin, Bessie’s father and Ruth’s brother. The two women have spent the past 20-some years taking care of the sick Marvin. Bessie is quickly diagnosed with leukemia but is hesitant to reach out to her estranged sister and her family with a request for a bone marrow transplant. Said sister Lee (Charlotte Fox) is excited to see Bessie once again, but her sons, Hank (Brykin Jones) and Charlie (Henry Hudson), are slower to accept this new set of relatives. 

“The relationship between Hank and Bessie is really complicated because Bessie was not a person in Hank’s life up until their vacation,” Jones said. “But he slowly gained trust in her because she was someone he could confide in.”

Alongside a handful of one-off characters such as the Retirement Director (Madalynn Johnson) and Dr. Charlotte (Chloe Belle), as well as the recurring comedic relief of Dr. Wally (Ali Gardner) and Bob (Robyn Beals), the odd family grows ever closer through trauma- both shared and separate. 

“Building character relations was tough in some aspects,” Fox said. “But when you really get there, it’s very fun because you completely become your character.”

Many involved shared how excited they were to get back into theatre after summer. For others, the production served as a gateway to explore new things.

“‘Marvin’s Room’ is my first crew experience in theatre,” sophomore Camdyn Pruett said. “What initially drew me to the crew side of theatre was the desire to learn how the inner workings of a show would work, and I wanted to help out as much as I could, so I took the chance and joined the costume crew.”

The show ends on an ambiguously bittersweet note, leaving the audience wondering how the story really ends. Throughout the flesh of the story, “Marvin’s Room” kept the whole auditorium on the edges of their seats

The show premiered Thursday, Aug. 31, and ran through that Friday and Saturday, and has since been sent to be adjudicated for the Nebraska Thespian Festival.

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About the Contributor
Alex Elgert
Alex Elgert, Staff Reporter
Alex is a sophomore at MWHS. They enjoy reviewing entertainment media, like music, movies, plays, and books. This is their first year on the CATalyst staff.

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