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Sophomore acting major Daniel Haymes plays Albert, a champion pool player, in Drake’s production of “Three the Hard Way.”

Drake Theatre hands students the reigns to
direct full-length productions

Each year in its main stage season, Drake Theatre
typically selects one student from multiple applicants to direct a full-length
production — a chance offered by very few universities. To set itself apart
even more, this year instead of one show, Drake Theatre presented three
student-directed plays.

In February, the Theatre featured two shows in
rotation: “Three the Hard Way” by Linda Eisenstein and “Romantic
Comedy” by Bernard Slade. Both productions represent the Senior Capstone
Projects of directing majors Megan Benzing of Monona, Iowa, and Daryl Vitali of
Alton, Ill.

In addition, senior Jasmine Teo directed Yasmina
Reza’s “Art” in December.

“Three the Hard Way,” directed by
Benzing, examines the relationships between three adult sisters who come
together to deal with the death of their father. Never the closest of siblings,
these strong-willed women try to sort out the history and family dynamics that
have shaped their lives, while the ghost of their father looks on.

“Romantic Comedy,” directed by Vitali, is
just that: an updated version of classic romantic comedies that takes a
lighthearted look at the relationship between a successful male playwright and
his young female collaborator as it changes over the course of their careers.

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Senior musical theatre majors Phil Gill and Jenna Schoppe star as Jason and Phoebe in Drake’s production of “Romantic Comedy.”

In addition to being student directed, both productions showcased the work of student designers including junior Amy Schneider of St. Paul (scenic design), sophomore Mike Draheim of Mason City, Iowa, and junior Maureen Fitzgerald of Lincoln, Neb., (lighting designs), and junior Kiley Fattor of Black Hawk, Colo., and Marnie Strate of Windsor Heights, Iowa (costume designs).

“The rotating repertory schedule of ‘Three the Hard Way’ and ‘Romantic Comedy’ is the result of outstanding proposals on the part of senior directing majors and an attempt by the department to create as many production opportunities as possible,” said Theatre Department Chair Michael Rothmayer. “It is also, to a certain extent, a test of both the creativity and collaborative nature of these directors and their production teams.”

“This opportunity to collaborate with my peers
has been fantastic,” Vitali said. “Directing the student show is a
truly unique experience. While we, of course, have the support and guidance of
our faculty, they do not do our work for us. Being not only involved in but
also responsible for all the elements of the finished product can be
overwhelming, but the exhilaration of seeing everything come together makes it
so worth the effort.”