Caroline Kinney '21 and Josh Ackerman '22 in a scene from "Check Please: Take 2." Cole Geissler / The Muhlenberg Weekly

Last weekend the semesterly Red Door Play Festival (RDPF) hit the stage, from Friday, Apr. 12 to Sunday, Apr. 14. The festival consisted of 10 student directed and performed plays.

I had the opportunity to see two of the plays: Check Please: Take 2 and Prelude to Thirty-Five.

Check Please: Take 2 is the sequel to Jonathan Rand’s play, Check Please. Like its predecessor, the sequel also features short scenes of first dates gone wrong. The performances of Check Please: Take 2 were directed by Kiana Holmes ‘22. Scenes included a man on a first date with a foot-reading psychic, a first date with someone who can not get off of their phone and a date with a man who loves to do everything the “extreme.”

According to Check Please: Take 2 actor Josh Ackerman ‘22, auditions required a prepared one minute monologue that was to be performed in front of a panel of directors of all the different RDPF productions. After the monologue, directors then have about two minutes of callbacks to have actors read a short monologue or scene from their show. The directors raise their hands and then Desmond Reifsnyder ‘22, the RDPF coordinator, calls on them. Actors can select which shows they want to be considered for and can rank them in order of their preference.

The rehearsal process is different for each play.  Each play rehearses individually with their casts, director and stage manager.

“My show has a lot of improv so we would start each rehearsal with different improv exercises which was really fun,” said Ackerman.

In the play, Ackerman was cast as different characters: Hank, Lyle, Dewey, Alex and Paul.

Ackerman said that one of his favorite parts of the show was getting to play so many different characters.

“It was a really awesome challenge playing so many different characters and figuring out how to make each one different from each other,” Ackerman said. “It was especially fun exploring these characters because each one is crazier than the next. From pretending to speak different foreign languages, to doing everything to the extreme, to a pirate, to a guy with five wives!”

Another one of Ackerman’s favorite parts of being in the show was getting to work with such an amazing cast and crew.

“I loved getting to know everyone and we all had so much fun together. It was one of our actor’s first time ever being in a show and it was really awesome getting to share this gift of theatre with him,” said Ackerman.

Caroline Kinney ‘21 was another actor in Check Please: Take 2, and she also loved working with the people involved in the play.

“I’ve always considered myself a dramatic actor, so it was so fulfilling to be able to show my more comedic side and play off of scene partners who were equally as funny,” said Kinney.

Although Ackerman thought it was fun playing five different roles, he found it also very challenging, because of his many costume changes. Sometimes he only had about 10 seconds to change his entire outfit.

“You could barely even see the floor backstage since it was full of costumes,” said Ackerman.

Seth Kramer’s Prelude to Thirty-Five, directed by Margaret Mustion ‘22, was different than Check Please: Take 2 as it was focused only on two characters and did not involve as many costume changes. The play focuses on the story of Jay and Rae, immediately after a rift in their relationship, due to Jay not accepting Rae’s marriage proposal. Rae leaves Jay and responds stubbornly when Jay tries to get her to come back. The play ends with Jay proposing to Rae. Emily Kirchner ‘22 (Rae)—said that her favorite part about being in the show was meeting the people involved.

“My director, stage manager and castmate are all wonderful people and it was a pleasure to work with them,” said Kirchner.

Kirchner said that the challenging part about being in the show was making it clear to the audience that Jay and Rae had an extensive history.

“We had to establish years worth of chemistry within 20 minutes,” explained Kirchner.

The RDFP not only allows students to build connections, but also gives aspiring actors the opportunity to perform in the cozy environment that is the Red Doors. All of the students involved should be proud of their job well done!

Arielle Moss is a senior who majors in English and minors in Creative Writing and Philosophy. In addition to being Arts and Culture Editor, she is a member of the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, and the leadership honor society, Omicron Delta Kappa. On Fridays, you can find her enjoying Shabbat dinner at either Chabad or Hillel. After Muhlenberg, she dreams of attending graduate school with a goal of becoming an author of children’s literature.


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