Published: October 8, 2009
Fordham students have found a place for themselves at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Fall Festival this season. “Blue Sky Somewhere,” written by Michael Hilton, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’09, and “Drawbridge,” written by Lauren Opper, FCLC ’10, will both be performed as part of the festival. The Manhattan Repertory Theatre, created in 2005 and located in midtown, prides itself on offering theatre professionals an affordable opportunity to have their original work performed. Both Hilton and Opper submitted their pieces for the festival after Opper saw an advertisement on www.backstage.com and both plays were selected.
Hilton’s piece, “Blue Sky Somewhere,” was written last spring after his Fordham studio show, “Birthday Girl,” closed. In explaining the inspiration behind writing his piece, Hilton said, “I wanted to get out of the city. I took a ride upstate, rented a room in a motel, and the idea came to me while driving through a small town and spotting an advertisement for spaghetti dinner at a firehouse.” From this ordinary image, Hilton imagined “a character that is fundamentally conflicted by the off-road, rural lifestyle.” Hilton was struck by this simple, modest image and its contrast to the urban lifestyle he is accustomed to as a New Yorker. “Blue Sky Somewhere” is based largely on the idea of “extraordinary elements in ordinary life.”
Opper’s play, “Drawbridge,” was written in fall 2007 and performed last year at Fordham as a studio show. However, the play has evolved since its run here at Fordham. Opper explained, “A new director and new cast allows for a new interpretation of the show.” A new team and location for the project will allow for “Drawbridge” to be performed in a different way. Fordham alum Will Nichols, FCLC ’09, who is producing Opper’s piece, noted these changes, “Rather than a realistic tone, we are going for something more surrealistic and dream-like.” Opper and Nichols are excited about the transformation of the piece from its performance at Fordham to its performance as part of the Fall Festival.
A substantial number of participants in the two projects at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre are Fordham students and alumni. Nichols explained that although the audition process was thorough and theatre professionals from all over the country were considered, Fordham alumni and students were particularly impressive in areas of acting, producing and directing. Hilton said, “Fordham prepared me completely to be a working theatre artist.”
Other Fordham students involved in the productions include alumni Heather Lanza, FCLC ’09, and Jessica DiGiovanni, FCLC ’07, who are directing and acting in “Blue Sky Somewhere” respectively, alum Sydney Painter, FCLC ’09, who is directing “Drawbridge” and several “Drawbridge” actors, including alumni Katie Iacona, FCLC ’08, Ronan Babbitt, FCLC ’09, Solimar Colon, FCLC ’09, Amy Nowak, FCLC ’09, Jason Debeer, FCLC ’09, and Tommy Wesely, FCLC ’09.
When asked whether he is enjoying life as a playwright after graduation, Hilton said, “It’s a thrill.” The Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Fall Festival will surely be a chance for Hilton, Opper, and the other Fordham students and alumni to showcase their talent outside of Fordham.
Hilton’s “Blue Sky Somewhere” will be performed Oct. 14 and 15 at 9 p.m. and Opper’s “Drawbridge” will run Nov. 4 and 5 at 9 p.m. at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre, located at 303 W. 42nd Street at 8th Ave.
Tickets can be purchased for $20 by calling the Manhattan Repertory Theatre at (646) 329-6588.