The audience of Forbidden Planet’s last production, Rocky Horror Picture Show, came expecting the sacrilegious. Perhaps not so for their most recent, Guys and Dolls. But it fits in with company Artistic Director Roxanne Orkin’s philosophy.
“There’s nothing sacred about scripts, we just do what we feel like,” she said. “My take on this production: it’s an old classic, a commonly done show.” Seeking to update it, she directed her company to “dance for the sake of dancing, sing for the sake of singing.”
The show played Thursday through Sunday to wildly different crowds, including one made up predominantly of Foggy Bottom senior citizens.
“We got all kinds of different demographics,” Heffron noted.
What the cast and crew seemed to communicate more than anything else was their desire to be right where they were, in front of the stage lights and a crowd full of people.
“You put your whole person into it,” said Orkin of her experience in student productions.
Freshman Alisa Pierrepont seemed to share this sentiment. A veteran of high school theater, she said her experience working with a student production company was a unique one.
“Changing in the halls – (I’ve) never experienced that. Performing in a black box – never experienced that,” she said.
The cast was made up of a diverse set of GW students, not just your typical theater kids – even SA President Audai Shakour had a small role as master of ceremonies.
The number one goal for this show, according to Orkin, was recruitment. For many in the cast this was their first performance at GW, let alone with Forbidden Planet – but once they start, they get hooked.
“I’ve been amazed,” said Pierrepont. She said she plans to continue with student theater in the future, hopefully with Forbidden Planet. “I’ve always been in shows.”
Upcoming shows include Jason Robert Brown’s musical Songs for a New World, and the three-person Complete Word of God Abridged, but they are becoming known among the student theater companies for their large-scale musicals and comedies.
The fact that it was a student-run production showed at times, however. Fitting a cast of 25 into a theater scarcely larger than an average classroom is no small feat, and dealing with the space was at times a problem.
“I didn’t know I was going to be directing until the day before auditions,” Orkin said. “I ended up choreographing as each dance came along.”
Problems aside, the cast, crew and pit pulled off a good show with a few new twists on an old classic. And all their hard work paid off, judging from the long lines outside Lisner Downstage. Forbidden Planet makes its presence known, both on and off stage – letting everyone know that while GW may not be known as an arts school, it’s not lacking in musical talent.
Pierrepont summed it up, saying “we’ve been sold out for every single show, so that has to say something.”