Content Note: Mentions of vomit
The Muhlenberg Theatre Association (MTA) premiered the fall 2022 Studio Production season from Nov. 17-20 in the Studio Theatre. The season featured three unique shows, with all aspects of production commandeered and executed by students.
The MTA produced its second full-length musical theater piece, “tick, tick…BOOM,” directed by Brayden Stallman ‘23, music directed by Bethany Qian ‘25 and choreographed by Amelie Parczany ‘24.
The musical tells the story of composer Jonathan Larson as he navigates life as an artist in New York City, longing to be recognized for creating something groundbreaking.
Director Brayden Stallman ‘23 explains, “I chose this show because I’m struggling with approaching a milestone in my life just like Jon is in the play, and what comforts him is that ‘his friends are there too.’ That’s really something that felt like a huge part of this process for me.”
“’She Kills Monsters’ is a play so full of heart, and I can only hope the Muhlenberg community took something away from our show,”-Meg Trageser ’25
“One of the highlights of working on ‘tick tick… BOOM’ was being surrounded by such an incredible team that I could not have done the project without,” continued Stallman. “My creative team, my cast, my design team, the MTA production team—there are way too many people to mention. They all brought so much joy and love to the project.”
One of the other shows put on in the festival was Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters,” directed by Connor McCully ‘23. The show tells the story of Agnes Evans, mourning the sudden death of her family, and posthumously connecting with her sister, Tilly, through a fantastical adventure within Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons notes.
Piper Woods ‘23, who played Evil Gabbi in the show, commented that, “This show was one of the most technically complex I have ever worked on, period… None of my previous projects required this amount of emotional upkeep. ‘She Kills’ is a tough show to go through. There is a lot of violence, both physical and mental, but the cast really held everyone up so even the tough moments were softened a bit.”
Woods’ comment rings true. From dragon heads, to magic missile blasts, or even gelatinous cubes, “She Kills Monsters” is nothing short of a behemoth of a show to put on and a challenge that this cast and crew were ripe to take on. The show featured intense and complex battles, choreographed by McCully, that heightened the show’s fantastical and comedic elements even further.
Lilli Brown ‘23, who played Vera, said “She Kills Monsters” was an extremely technologically and logistically challenging show to produce. The director, cast and crew did an excellent job managing all the elements of this show. One of my favorite parts of the show was the costumes, which were all hand made by our costume designer [Katie Harris ‘24].”
“I couldn’t have asked for a better production to have as my introduction into college theater. I’ve been doing theatre since I was four years old, and I’ve never worked with a more amazing cast, crew and creative team and I’m incredibly proud of our run,” said Meg Trageser ‘25 who played Kaliope.
Brown continued with a memory of the show about the song “Linger” by The Cranberries, “The cast adapted the song as our own little anthem and whenever we needed to get each other’s attention during rehearsal or elsewhere one of us would start singing the song.”
“There’s something about student-produced theater that is so special and rewarding to work on… ‘She Kills Monsters’ is a play so full of heart, and I can only hope the Muhlenberg community took something away from our show,” concluded Trageser.
The last of the three shows for the Studios season included “God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza, directed by Joey Marcacci ‘23 and assistant directed by Eben Cornine ‘23. The play focused on the story of four adults coming together to discuss an incident that occurred between their sons, but the true nature of the parents would come to showcase how they are the children themselves, metaphorically. It’s a story about privilege, hurt, isolation and the lack of what people know.
The scenic design by Levi Roush ‘24 utilized bright colors in the set of orange, red, blue and more to bring a playground aesthetic to this ordinary living room. Roush was also responsible for a vomit contraption.
“The vomit contraption was a journey but working with my scenic designer [Roush] and my assistant director [Cornine], it made the process a lot smoother. It just took trial and error, and a lot of clean up,” stated Marcacci.
Meghan McGorry ‘23, who portrayed Annette Raleigh, mentioned, “I was surprisingly really excited about getting the chance to puke onstage, and it was actually a very technical process that required a lot of choreography and practice before the performances. Everyone was really great throughout the process though, and it was really enjoyable.”
In addition to the fake vomit, the rest of the experience went well and allowed for a collaborative environment between the actors, designers and other members of the production team. McGorry also mentioned, “It was genuinely such a joy to go to rehearsal and create with everyone.”
Marcacci continued, “The creative process for studios was structured well by the MTA and they gave me the resources I needed in order to be successful. Studios went very well and I had few issues with the whole process.”
The production stage manager of the show, Hannah Cohen ‘25, stated, “‘God of Carnage’ was such an amazing experience. I got to work with seniors who I hadn’t met before. The best part was probably working with the design team to prepare set, lighting, sound and costumes. From the longest cue ever to the disgusting vomit, from the obnoxious phone sounds to the carefully chosen outfits, the design team put together an amazing show. The actors really took on their roles too. Each night they improvised a little bit more, making it serious yet funny at the same time. I loved working on this show and I can’t wait to see what’s next for all of us!”