By Katelyn Massarelli
Unless you have a passion for studying plays and musicals, you probably have not heard of The Seagull by Anton Chekhov or Dogfight by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. These are two productions that involve love and comedy that the University of Tampa will get to experience this semester when the play and musical are performed at Falk Theater.
The Seagull is about love and art in which the characters are either connected to each other by love, blood or friendship, according to director, Dr. Robert Gonzalez.
“All [characters] are frustrated by their life and the object of their love. How they face and work out these obstacles to their happiness is the heart of this play,” Gonzalez said.
Arkadina, played by junior Amanda Franz, is the root of conflict between the three other main characters. She is a 43 year-old famous actress who the audience will have a hard time deciding if they love or hate.
“[Arkadina] tries to be a good mother, lover and actress and even though she succeeds with some things, she can’t always do it all,” Franz said. “I want the audience to keep an open mind and not judge her too quickly.”
Arkadina’s son, Konstantin, played by junior Nicholas Falduto, struggles to find his “writing voice” and longs for the love of his lover, Nina, as well as that of his mother. For Falduto, making sure his character is portrayed correctly on stage is the most important part of his performance.
“To prepare for the role, I have to live and breathe the part,” Falduto said. “It’s the little things that give a character true life beyond pages.”
As defined by the Department of Speech, Theatre and Dance, The Seagull is considered a “classical non-Shakespearean” genre. Genres of the shows picked by the department are organized in a four-year cycle.
“The subject matter, the love chain that binds the characters together, and the wisdom it portrays throughout the story— these are just a few reasons I and the department chose this play,” Gonzalez said.
Not only will the play be introduced to UT students, but The Seagull will be adapted into a film later this year. The film will be directed by Michael Mayer and feature Brooklyn star and Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan as Nina Zarechnaya.
When the play reaches Falk Theater this March and April, the audience is expected to receive perspective of life and a feel for Russian culture in the late 19th century.
As for Dogfight, the show portrays three marines who decide to see who can bring the ugliest girl to a party. For Eddie Birdlace (Sean Royal) it was Rose Fenny. Corporal Birdlace is a Marine about to be deployed to Southeast Asia along with his friends Bernstein and Boland when he meets Fenny– a young waitress who will change the game completely.
For junior management and musical theatre major Gershom Vacarizas, auditioning for Dogfight was a no-brainer.
“With a predominantly male and tenor-heavy cast and a strong lineup of pop-rock songs and soulful ballads, I’ve never felt so ambitious to be in a cast in a show at UT,” Vacarizas said.
Vacarizas will be playing the role of Bernstein, a fellow marine alongside his best friends Birdlace and Boland in their trio known as “Three Bees.”
“Although he is described to be nerdy and awkward with women, Bernstein seems to personify the idea of how war is commonly glamorized as a promise of glory,” Vacarizas said.
Dogfight was first filmed in 1991 by director Nancy Savoca. Although the musical is based in 1963, it’s still relatable to present day.
“The actor and character merely work together in order to make a statement about society,” said junior musical theatre major, Mollie Posnik, playing Rose Fenny. “Rose truly helps to convey the idea that violence, hatred and anger are not the way to change the world.”
Posnik felt a strong connection to Rose Fenny when going in to audition for the part, especially after seeing the original off-Broadway production in 2012.
“I auditioned because I love performing and Dogfight happens to be one of my favorite musicals,” Posnik said, “[Rose] shows the power that compassion and kindness have over violence and hatred.”
For the cast of Dogfight, getting to put on the production for their fellow students is an exciting time.
“I am incredibly honored to share a part in a show with some of the most talented individuals I am yet to work with, and I can’t wait for everyone to see the show,” Vacarizas said.
Katelyn Massarelli can be reached at email@example.com.