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NMSU Theatre Department Head Wil Kilroy said he “heard no complaints” about Covid-19 during the department’s Sept. 30-Oct. 3 run of “Fefu and Her Friends,” the first live performances in the Mark and Stephanie Medoff Theatre inside the ASNMSU Center for the Arts, since the pandemic interrupted “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” in March 2020.
All performances of the show, from opening night on Friday, Oct. 1 through the final Sunday matinee on Oct. 3, “sold out to the max of 80, but we were able to have waiting lists so if someone didn't show others could get in,” Kilroy said. The Thursday evening, Sept. 30, preview performance had a slightly smaller crowd.
“Fefu” includes the performance of four scenes backstage, with the audience rotating from one scene to the next.
“I talked to many who felt that so much was revealed during those scenes and how it was special for them to get the ‘inside’ scoop,” Kilroy said.
“Our students were thrilled” with the backstage performances,” he said. “This is what they love. One actor did report how especially in the backstage scenes where people were close that they had to adjust to all that live energy.”
Kilroy said “Fefu” gave eight actors a challenging script, full of emotion and subtext, to apply all that they've been learning in the theater program.
“The unique set with backstage scenes was a great challenge for both our faculty designers/staff, and our students working technically. Tackling this unique show was truly educational and we hope it was fulfilling for the audience,” Kilroy said.
Next for the Theatre Department is “The Thanksgiving Play,” which will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17 at the ASNMU Center for the Arts, 1000 E. University Ave.
There also will be a special viewing of the play’s final dress rehearsal at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15.
Tickets for the Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 16-17, performances are $12 and are available at the ASNMUS Center for the Arts box office or online at www.onthestage.tickets/show/new-mexico-state-university/the-thanksgiving-play-94982. Or visit https://theatre.nmsu.edu/, click on Performances & Events, 2021-2022 Performance Season, scroll down to The Thanksgiving Play and click HERE for tickets.
Tickets to the Thursday, Oct. 15, preview performance are $5 and are available only at the box office before the show.
“This will be a rehearsed staged reading, so, while the technical aspects of the show will be simple, without a set or costumes, the audience will be able to truly experience this comedic and oh-so politically correct story through the actors, with a theme that so easily relates to current events,” Theatre Department Head Wil Kilroy said.
“These characters have the best of intentions to create a fun, educational, play about the November holiday for elementary kids without making anyone mad,” said NMSU Theatre professor Claudia Billings, who is directing the play, which was written by Larissa Fasthorse. “Unfortunately, the drama teacher already has three hundred parents who have signed a petition against her,” Billings said.
Actors in the reading are Riley Merritt, Kamryn Neil, Benjamin Ramsey, Dominique Gomez and Mike Wise.