On Friday, Nov. 3, Saint Leo black box theater had its first showing of “The Secret in the Wings,” a play by Mary Zimmerman. The play was directed by Dr. Alicia Corts, the Assistant Professor of Dramaturgy, who was also the music director of the show.
“The Secret in the Wings” is a play that combines lesser-known fairy tales and myths with an ugly mystique and a childish humor all in one. The audience was thrilled and spooked at the same time as the play quickly transitioned between a humorous to a melancholy tone without warning. The show successfully managed to incorporate the dark mystery of characters like the ogre, Mr. Perry, and his unreciprocated feelings for the character of Kristin with the humor of such tales as “The Princess Who Wouldn’t Laugh.”
The play’s central theme of “loving the unlovable” was influenced by the fairytale “Beauty and the Beast,” which also happens to be the director’s favorite tale.
“At some point all of us are the beast,” said Corts. “And at some point in life we are also the beauty.”
For this particular show, the cast underwent a rigorous series of physical exercises needed to perform certain stunts unique to this show. Dr. Corts also helps the students get into character with a specific set of warm-ups every night, which helps them focus and gain the skills they need as actors to effectively get into character. Overall, she stated that practice makes perfect.
“A lot of it is just doing it over and over again,” Corts explained.
As for a few of the student actors themselves, the fact that the play allowed them to use their real names in character helped them to feel as one with the character. Therefore, transitioning between different roles in a short time was easily done.
Student actor, Katie Huettel, who played the wicked nursemaid in the tale of the “Three Blind Queens,” among other characters, loved being a villain. Huettel also helped with costume design by making swan wings out of plastic bags for the tale of “Silent for Seven Years, or the Seven Swans.” Huettal went on to explain her method for getting into character.
“Because you know the character very well . . . you’re not just acting like somebody else, you are that character in your mind,” she said. “I am the nursemaid, I am evil, I hate the queens.”
“Secret in the Wings featured a number of interesting visual and audio effects. The eerie music played that in the background all throughout the show came from different sources, one of which was a copyright free music download, which was used specific scenes.
Special lighting was used to highlight each individual character. The bright, golden light used to signal the arrival of the child in “Stolen Pennies” ended up getting in the eyes of several audience members. However, this was not a hindrance to the spectators. In fact, it briefly made them a part of the story as their shadows were cast upon the wall.
Overall, “The Secret in the Wings” was a darkly beautiful performance. For those who have not yet fallen under the spell of this magical show, there’s a second chance to see this charming fairytale again on Nov. 10, 11, and 12 at 7:30 p.m. Reserve your free ticket at StLeoTheatre@saintleo.edu.