By Sean Armstrong | Staff Writer
When asked about the Red Masquers’ upcoming semester, “phantasmagorical” is one of the first words that rushed to President Nathaniel Yost’s mind as he attempts to describe the season the group has planned.
The Red Masquers is a student-run organization hosted by the Theater Arts program in The McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts. This year, the group plans to perform six plays and host one community-based event.
The five productions planned are Orphie and the Book of Heroes, The Busy Body, One Acts for Charity, The Second Shepherds’ Play, Macbeth and Equus. The community-based event is called Premiere’s XLI and allows students and staff to submit a one-act play to be performed on stage.
The Red Masquers’ season opens with the play Orphie and the Book of Heroes. The show runs from Sept. 28 to Oct. 15, Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. According to the Duquesne University website, the show is a, “family-friendly musical … which tells the story of Orphie, a young girl in Ancient Greece who sets out to save storyteller Homer and his Book of Heroes.”
The Duke caught up with three of the cast members from Orphie and the Book of Heroes: Sam Espiritu, who plays Orphie, Max Beglar, who plays Homer and Grant Jones, who plays Hades.
How is Orphie and the Book of Heroes unique?
Max Beglar: This is the first musical in college that I have had solo songs in. The stage is very close to the audience so it makes for a lot of direct eye contact while trying to stay confident about singing. Thankfully I have sunglasses the entire show, so I can almost hide in a sense.
Grant Jones: One, it is supposed to be a family show that is acceptable for children. A lot of the other shows I’ve been in are aimed purely at adult audiences, and I’ve had to say and do some vulgar things. Also, this is the first major role I’ve had in a musical so far, in the past having had more ensemble parts. Finally, Hades as a character is very cartoonish and over-the-top. It’s been a big change for me, as I have often been cast in serious, dramatic roles. So I’ve had to make my acting a lot bigger.
What is it like to be casted in this show?
Sam Espiritu: When I would do shows in high school, we would rehearse for about 2-2.5 months. But for Orphie and the Book of Heroes, we have only rehearsed for about five and a half weeks. So the time crunch was definitely something that added pressure for me. But in light of that, I believe that, as a cast, we were able to form bonds much quicker, which is something that I find very valuable.
Jones: Being part of the cast in this show is interesting because you have so many things you need to worry about at once: lines, lyrics, music, choreography, blocking, etc. It’s a very complicated and fast-paced show, so we’ve had to put a lot together in a short amount of time. At first I was nervous about how much this show involved. It was a rather daunting task. But as I’ve seen rehearsals move along, I feel like we’re up to it.
Why should people come see the show?
Espiritu: People should come to the show because Greek mythology is always an interesting topic, and, given that this is such a cute and fun family show, there will be something for everyone, no matter how old you are. Everyone in the cast and crew has worked so tremendously hard, and I cannot wait to have it all come together for the public.
Begler: The show has a great, close-knit cast. We all became close very fast, which is pretty great for energy. As far as shows go, this is going to be a fun family one. If you once loved Greek mythology, as I myself once obsessed over, you’ll probably enjoy this cute little myth.
For drama connoisseurs or just casual fans of the arts, the Red Masquers offers a unique opportunity for a family-friendly experience. However, if family-friendly doesn’t sound like something interesting to you, the Red Masquers offers more typical shows like Macbeth later on in the school year.