Fall Show ‘Dearly Beloved’ Takes Texas Twist

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  • Minsoo Han ’19 tackles Elijah Pollock ’21.

  • Trevor Wyatt ’19 lectures Tony Nielson ’18 about the troubles of marriage.

  • Izzy Arcinue ’18 delivers a monologue to her deceased mother.

  • Nicole Boisseau ’20 gets her nails painted by her on-stage aunt, Catie Dugan ’18,

  • Ilana Swartz ’18 gives Isabel Cameron ’19 a psychic reading.

  • Catie Dugan ’18 remarks at the extensive wedding buffet.

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The Westwood theater department presented 2017’s fall show, Dearly Beloved, performed Oct. 26-28, and it was a roaring success.

Dearly Beloved is a comedy set in rural Texas centering around a trainwreck of a Gone with the Wind-themed wedding. The zany cast of characters (including but not limited to a stressed-beyond-repair mother of the bride, her two sisters in constant conflict, her hopelessly romantic daughter, her suspiciously distant husband, a UPS delivery boy turned wedding officiator, a sassy wedding planner, the frightening and cruel mother of the groom, and a gossipy peace officer) are faced with utter chaos the moment the lights come up on the stage. The three sisters are forced to reevaluate their neglected relationship while weathering the ordeal together.

With a script packed to the brim with subplots and twists, a high energy performance was essential, and the actors absolutely delivered. The interpretations of the characters were heartfelt and well thought out, producing three-dimensional personas so naturally that I could imagine myself knowing them in real life. Their motivations were believable even in the outrageous circumstances they were thrown into, and the relationships they built within the hour-and-a-half runtime felt genuine. The larger-than-life spins on archetypal characters brought the play a special zest reminiscent of Shakespeare’s comedies. Although I am sure the southern accents added an extra challenge, one wouldn’t be able to tell from the apparent ease with which the actors performed.

The set, built with the help of the tech theater classes, was at once stunning and instantly recognizable as a traditional back country road church house. The use of real food onstage for the wedding meal gone awry helped the atmosphere of the scene by allowing the actors to fully interact with the set around them. These details with a wide selection of country songs played during transitions and intermission brought the audience in our small, comparatively urban Austin out into the roots of Texas.

The theater and tech students that worked together to put on Dearly Beloved created a performance that is as heartwarming as it is hilarious. The multitude of effort put into every aspect of this show was made visible through the sheer grace with which it was executed. Had this show not had as short of a run-time as it did, I would have recommended it to everyone willing to listen, and I await the next production on the theater docket with excitement.