10 The Compass Friday, March 8, 1996
Play provides comic
look at Wacky family
by Tim Smith
The University Players have scored
another hit in their comedy Dearly De
parted , a tw^o-act play by David Bottrell
and Jessie Jones.
The play performances took place
Feb. 21-23 and 25 in the Little Theater.
During the Feb. 22 performance, one
member of the audience said, "Make
sure your bladder is empty. You won't
be able to control yourself."
Dearly Departed, directed by ECSU
student LaVorme McClain, takes a co
medic look at a dysfunctional family's
efforts to cope with the loss of daddy.
When Bud Turpin, played by Jerome
Brothers, dies in the beginning of Act 1,
one would assimie it was a short stage
career for him, but he goes on to por
tray a central character in Delightful,
the daughter. Obsessed with eating—
anything and everything—Delightful
only has two words to say in the entire
play, but his/her facial expressions and
body language are riotously funny and
keep the audience laughing. She uses
half of her dialogue in the last act when
she looks at Bud in the coffin and says,
Damond Nollan as Junior holds the
play together with a more serious part.
He controls the plot successfully. V^en
he sees Bud in the coffin for the first
time, he shows complete surprise at
the ballet shoes on his father. His abil
ity to take a serious situation and por
tray comedy is stimning. In the fight
scene with his brother, Ray-Bud, played
by Shaunell McMillan, all the audience
sees are arms and legs going in every
direction behind the couch. The rest of
the family is trying to keep them apart,
without success. Its a brawl straight
out of the Keystone Cops.
Nollan stands out in another scene
as well. While in a car traveling to the
funeral, his wife Suzanne is constantly
yelling at the kids in the back seat, and
berating him for his failed business
venture. He's lost everything on a park
ing lot cleaning machine. Her constant
harping sends him into a rage where
he threatens to kill everyone in the car
with his gun. His ability to make this
serious scene funny, is one of the
production's many strengths.
Shantelle Harvey, as Suzanne, has the
difficult part of playing a wife trj^ing
to hold a family together without an
income, and saddled with a cheating
husband. These problems have made
her physically HI, but in the end she
forgives him and life goes on.
The set and props were done with
pride and professionalism. In scene
changes, everything was completed
quickly and quietly. The action was fast
and funny, with short scenes at side
stage to slow the pace. The lights were
used successfully to bring the
Appearing In Dearly Departed, Vita (Tonya Turner), Suzanne (Shantelle Harvey)
and Norval (Khalld Baum) discuss the “dearly departed” number of their family.
Bud Turpin, played by Jerome Brothers.
audience's attention to aU the fast paced
Other cast members include Robin
T. Gresham as Raynelle, Felicia Best as
Lucille, Shalon Hawkins as Marguer
ite, Shon Bames as Royce, Bobby Lewis
as Reverend Hooker, Tonya Turner as
Veda, Khalid Baum as Norval/Clyde,
BiUicia Hines as Nadine, and Dorothy
Wills as Juanita.
The play's stage manager was Billi-
cia C. Hines. Costumer was Ollie Ma
son and technical director, Anthony
Student director’s biggest challenge: getting ’em there on time
by Lolethia "DL" Underdue
When she first began directing stu
dents in the play Dearly Departed
LaVonne McClain was faced with the
problem of some cast members being
late to rehearsal.
McClain, normally a soft-spoken per
son, adnutted she had to "get loud" to
deal with the problem.
After that, she recalls, there was no
more problem with lateness.
Being a student director isn't an easy
job. For McClain, a junior business ma
jor from Asheville, the job has been a
source of exhilaration and excitement
as well as much hard work.
Her biggest challenge in the begin
ning was "getting everyone there on
time," she recalls. "It was also very
tough for me when I had to let one of
the actors go but there were just too
many conflicts in times, scheduling,
and some other things."
McClain became interested in direct
ing in high school. Her first stint as a
director came in the form of a class
assignment in her high school drama
"I wasn't interested in directing at
all," McClain recalls, "but when my
teacher chose me to direct a one-act
play. You Can't Take It With You, I soon
developed an interest."
McClain is no stranger to theatrical
productions at ECSU, having acted in
three plays in the past three years. She
has also assisted in the direction of sev
eral plays including Of Mice And Men,
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered
Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, and A
Raisin In the Sun.
She credits these experiences with
helping her leam how to effectively
manage a rehearsal and how to be more
" I'm pretty lenient but I've learned
how to get people to do what I want
without having to raise my voice all of
the time," she said.
McClain recalls that Shawn Smith,
ECSU drama professor, suggested she
direct a production last spring.
" I was very interested in doing this
play and a little nervous," she said. "I
was afraid I wouldn't get the same re
spect as Shawn." McClain had little
problem with her cast giving her the
respect she demanded, however.
"As director I had to pick the play,
audition and pick the cast, and pick
people for the technical crew. Once re
hearsals started my job was to block
out the action (determine actors' move
ment and positions on stage) and make
sure they learned their lines."
McClain enjoyed rehearsals the most.
"I get to work with everyone and
there's a lot of plajdng around and jok
ing at rehearsals. I don't believe in long
rehearsals and everyone appreciates
that. Everyone works a littie harder so
they can keep getting out on time."
For McClain the most valuable part
of directing is getting to work with
people and the excitement of viewing
the finished performance.
As opening night rapidly approached
she admitted she was "probably more
nervous than the actors. I've tried to
make being in this play fim and now
I'm starting to crack down and polish
up the performances for opening night.
"The only thing I'm letting stress me
out at this point is the play," she added.
"I'm not worried about failing any
classes because I already know I can
excel in the classroom. I've got to get
this play out because it is a representa
tion of me and when it's out it's got to
be good. My dream is that this play
will go over as well as Colored Girls
Who Have Considered Suicide When the
Rainbow is Enuf and Fences."
After the third performance of the
play McClain said she was pleased.
"I was really nervous on opening
night, but once things got going I re
laxed," she said. "I was really proud of
everyone, from my assistant director
all the way to my technical crew."
Will McClain direct any more plays?
"I just want good reviews for this
one and then maybe I'll do it again,"