‘She Kills Monsters’

JCC?Uncommoners Set To Perform Spring Play

Tillius, Alex Connor; Kaliope, Caitlin McCall; Agnes, Alivia Roehrig; and Lilith, Chloe Kilmartin, rehearse a scene for 'She Kills Monsters' to be performed at Jamestown Community College. Submitted photo

Monsters.

Demons.

Sword fights.

It’s 1995 and the game is Dungeons and Dragons. Tilly has died, leaving her D & D playbook, and her sister Agnes must play the game to get to really know her sister.

Enter a fantasy world as the Jamestown Community College’s Uncommoners present “She Kills Monsters,” by Qui Nguyen.

When playing the game of Dungeons and Dragons, each player creates his or her own character, with specific traits that will help them on their adventures. The game can take as long as five hours at a time, or may be played over several days. Director Adam Owens said that the cast and crew all created their own character sheets to help them get better understand the play. His character, he said, is a giant who is also a bard.

Becoming a character, even privately, may help you enjoy the play. It’s fun, but it’s not a requirement.

Owens and technical director Don Hill talked about the play and how they saw it from both a directorial and a technical side.

When asked about the choice of this play, which is not particularly well-known, Owens answered that a classic was considered. He had just about made up his mind to do “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” when Don Hill sent him the script of “She Kills Monsters.” “I laughed, and then, at the end, I cried,” said Owens. “That’s when I knew we had to do this play.”

Owens commented what the easiest thing was about directing this play, and what was the hardest. The easiest, he said, was “the incredible cast. Many already played Dungeons and Dragons so they quickly grasped the play’s essence.” The hardest was the monsters they had to create, including a five-headed dragon, a large bugbear, and several demons animated by puppeteers, he said.

Much thought was also put into the many fight scenes. Owens compares the fights to the song-and-dance routines in a musical. “In a musical, the action, the energy, builds until the only way it can be expressed is with singing and dancing. I wanted that same burst of energy but in this play, that energy build up is expressed in a fight.”

So, besides hand-to-hand combat, there are fights with swords, knives and axes, all directed by Owens, with assistance from Ted Sharon. Add fog, colored lights, and an ominous black mound of a mountain, and you are ready to enter the world of Dungeons and Dragons.

Of course, all these characters need costumes, and that’s where Owens relied on Jan Braeger. Braeger downplayed her role, saying she didn’t create any of the monsters, just the “regular” wardrobe, but she then presented Owens with two “severed limbs” the ends of which delighted him. “Great! Just like torn ligaments.” Braeger has been responsible for the costumes of over 25 shows at Cassadaga Central School, and has done wardrobe at JCC for 10 years. Her explanation for these years of work, “It’s my passion.” I can’t wait to see the show with all the actors in full costume.

Hill works closely with every director. “It’s a group effort to make sure the set is in sync with the director’s overall vision for the production. We have a small but diverse team responsible for the creative aspects of each show and everyone has good ideas to contribute. The more input we include the better the performance becomes.”

That input includes individuals you wouldn’t ordinarily think of in conjunction of set design. Says Hill, “We discuss color with the costume designer. Placement of set pieces is discussed with the choreographer. Lighting director Scott Barton has a wealth of theatre experience and Steven Gustafson, the theatre director and producer has made entertainment a career. He continues to teach me with every new show produced. Also, many shows use an orchestra and we have to be creative about where to place the musicians. Conductor Mary Anne Harp is always consulted before finalizing the designs.”

Talent backstage is not always spotlighted, but Hill is quick to praise many individuals who help keep productions at the Scharmann Theatre running smoothly. “We’ll be sad to see Skylar Dunlap leave after this semester. He’s been an incredible asset both on stage and behind the scenes…Victor Fernandez is a motivated theatre student who has done a lot of crew work. We also have a fairly stable regular crew. Riley Gustafson is one. He is fantastic in the fly gallery…when anything drops in, or flies out of the scene, he is the one making that look good. Gary Peters, Jr. is someone we keep on speed dial. If there is something completely off the wall we need built, like a gigantic dragon head, or we just need our cast t-shirts, he’s the one we call. He has boundless energy and creativity. Daman Holland and Jordan Spencer are additional choreographers we look to, as well as Nathan Meleen as our deck chief backstage. There are many names I am missing, and we are fortunate as a community theater to be able to call on so many regulars for help and assistance.”

A marvelous blend of talent, a huge splash of imagination, a script that is both funny and tender, and you’ve got the JCC production of She Kills Monsters. I can’t wait to see it with costumes and a full complement of monsters.

The cast is as follows: Agnes, Alivia Roehrig; Tilly/Tillius, Alex Connor; Chuck, Sky Dunlap; Lilith/Lilly, Chloe Kilmartin; Kaliope/Kelly, Caitlin McCall; Orcus/Ronnie, Don Hill; Evil Gabbi, Autumn Shuskie; Evil Tina, Marissa Skinner; Miles, Rychleigh Allan; Narrator, Kristina Benson; Vera/The Beholder, Sharee Dominick; Farrah the Faerie, LeighAnn Shaffer; Steve/Steve the Mage, Titus Miller. Puppeteers include Ashley Farnham, Victor Fernandez, and Jessica Mack.

The crew includes choreographer Daman Holland, audio engineer Graham Riggle, lighting designer Scott Barton, and production assistants Sky Dunlap, Baylin Dunlap, Victor Fernandez, Elisa Fuentes, and Riley Gustafson.

Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., Thursday, March 21, Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the JCC box office, or by calling 338-1186. General admission is $12, seniors and FSA card holders, $8, JCC and area students, $5.

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