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College Theater will present Rebecca Gilman’s Boy Gets Girl Wednesday-Saturday, Oct. 27-30, on the main stage of the Williams Center for the Arts.

Tickets cost $6 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 610-330-5009.

Director Jessica Damrow will present a preview of the play noon Tuesday at the Williams Center. Lunch will be available for $3.

“Working with the Lafayette students has been an absolute delight,” she says. “Their grasp of Rebecca Gilman’s language rivals that of professional actors. They are bright, hardworking, and adventurous. What director could ask for more?”

In Boy Gets Girl, the urban dating game in contemporary America quickly turns into a nightmare when Theresa, a successful career woman, agrees to meet Tony, a friend-of-a-friend, for drinks. The young man cannot take “no” for an answer, developing a fatal attraction that goes from flattering to menacing to downright scary. Gilman, who railed at racism in academia in her controversial Spinning Into Butter, transforms a would-be suitor into a stalker whose terrifying behavior raises questions about the fragility of women’s freedom, security, and social identity in “an evening of thought-provoking theater that, at the very least, will make you reconsider that Internet personal ad,” according to College Theater.

A New York native who earned a B.A. in theatre/English at Muhlenberg College, Damrow’s production of David Mamet’s Oleanna was awarded several certificates of merit in both acting and directing by the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. She has taught both advanced acting and public speaking at several institutions, including Lafayette, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Pace University, and St. John’s University.

Damrow’s acting credits include Hedda Gabler (Thea Elvsted) at the Century Center for the Performing Arts, the world premiere of Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters (Pucha/Lolita) directed by Michael Greif at the La Jolla Playhouse, and Beautiful Thing (Sandra) at the Society Hill Playhouse in Philadelphia. She holds an MFA in acting from the University of California, San Diego. While attending UCSD, she was awarded several travel grants, one of which enabled her to study dance and maskwork in Bali, Indonesia. Damrow was selected to participate in a series of lectures and workshops given by Obie Award-winning playwright Athol Fugard at the University of Cork, Ireland.

Chris Jupitz ’08 (Grasonville, Md.), who portrays Tony, Theresa’s blind date, says that he enjoys being the “bad guy” for a change.

“Normally I’m a quiet, nice person, but being Tony allows me to be very active and weird,” he says. “So I get to be something I’ve never been before.”

The play will hit home for men who pursue romance with women by calling them many times or even those who just check to see who is on-line through Instant Messenger.

“[I want] to raise their awareness of what stalking really is,” he says.

Jessica Lenza ’05 (Hackettstown, N.J.), a double major in religious studies and music, plays the lead female role, a magazine writer in her mid to late 30s.

“Theresa, as are all the characters Gilman writes, is a fully fleshed out person,” she says. “She isn’t the hero or the victim. She isn’t perfect; she’s real. What I’ve tried to do is find her reality. I want to play her truthfully, honestly. Throughout the course of the play, she gets stalked, but the stalking doesn’t define her. That’s what sets this play apart from those cheesy Lifetime movies; she doesn’t let her being stalked consume her.”

The script uses the stalking to discuss society’s role in shaping relationships between men and women.

“It really brings up provocative issues,” says Lenza. “Men are trained to pursue a woman even if she says ‘no.’ They are taught that persistence pays off, but they aren’t taught when to stop and some men don’t have that innate sense of when to quit. Women’s magazines have plenty of articles on how to get a guy, but very few inform women how to properly break up with one.”

This is Lenza’s third lead role in College Theater, which she says she loves.

“My friends don’t understand how or why I devote five or more hours in one night to rehearsal,” she says. “To them, it’s work, but to me, it’s more than that. It’s a passion and an outlet. I do get stressed out and sometimes it seems overwhelming, but it’s more than worth it.”

Mechanical engineering major Joe Narkevic ’06 (Ambridge, Pa.) says that his character, Mercer Stevens, a 35-year-old colleague of Theresa, has turned out to be much more interesting than he had expected.

“When I first looked at his part in the play, I wasn’t very enthusiastic,” he admits. “Compared to Les (a 72-year-old ‘adult’ filmmaker) he seemed like a boring, run-of-the-mill guy. But as I worked with him a bit more, I found him to be pretty likeable and [easy to relate to] Mercer is, however, tough to play because he goes through a lot of changes in the play, and he has some demanding scenes for me as an actor.

The opportunity to see solid characters who generate empathy are a good reason to see the play, he notes.

“Also, while the play deals with a rather serious subject, which may scare off people used to fare like Little Shop of Horrors, there are moments of humor and levity, which I think is pretty interesting to see given the events occurring,” he adds. “I think the play has some pretty interesting points to make, especially in my scenes, if I may toot my horn a bit.”

Electrical and computer engineering major John Kolba ’06 (Chelmsford, Mass.) says that his portrayal of the 50-something Howard Siegel is comprised of several components he has tried to capture: magazine editor, Theresa’s boss, and her father figure.

“Howard and Theresa are very close,” he says. “There is an implicit trust between the two of them. To portray Howard, I combine a frantic energy inherent in being an editor with a genuine caring for Theresa. He has something of a hard exterior that he keeps up for most of the play, but he lets it down a few times. He is very driven, and I need to show this to bring him to life. While playing Howard, I try to keep all of this running –frantically preparing the next issue of the magazine, helping Theresa with problems in her life, moving through life with the shell that cities sometimes produce in people.”

Kolba notes that he learns a great deal from participating in College Theater, which he finds to be characterized by both excellence and fun.

“For example, Jessica Damrow is showing us a new way to approach our scenes — new for me, at any rate,” he says. “Rather than focus on being something, which leads to a mentality of ‘I am confused, so I have to portray that,’ we work on making the other person feel a certain way. Make her feel unclear. Make her feel pushed. This is more effective than trying to be something. Jess really knows what she is doing, and I am thankful for the opportunity to work with her and learn from her.

“There is just something to be said for a group of people coming together and collectively creating art from their respective talents — the process leaves a profound impact on me.”

Making time for theater while pursing his engineering degree is a challenge that Kolba embraces.

“I have so much that I want to do in life, and theater is a big item on that list,” he says. “I want to take full advantage of my four years here, experiencing as much as I can. I know that being here is an opportunity to learn all sorts of things that will not present itself to me again. For this reason, I push myself to take in as much as I can. I know my limits, and I will push myself to them to get these experiences.”

Gilman has an MFA in playwriting from the University of Iowa. Her Spinning Into Butter was commissioned by Chicago’s Goodman Theatre as part of the Scott McPherson Award. The Goodman also commissioned Boy Gets Girl, along with a third play Gilman is writing as part of the theatre’s Prince Prize. Spinning Into Butter won the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays. The Glory of Living, which premiered in 1997 at Chicago’s Circle Theatre, won the Osborn Award from the American Theatre Critics’ Association, London’s George Devine Award, the Evening Standard Award, and an After Dark Award. Gilman has won four Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best New Play, for The Glory of Living, Spinning Into Butter, The Crime of the Century, and Boy Gets Girl.

Cast and Crew
Emily Becher ’06 (Harriet) is a double major in psychology and English from Loudonville, N.Y. She appeared in The Cherry Orchard and The Real Inspector Hound. She is public relations chair for the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and an associate representative for Student Government.

Kiira Elisabeth Benzing ’07 (assistant director/stage manager) is a double major in performance studies and French from Ridgewood, N.J. She performed in College Theater’s The Cherry Orchard and The American Dream, and was assistant stage manager for Far Away, assistant lighting designer for the Marquis Players’ You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, and lighting board operator for Little Shop of Horrors. This summer, she studied at the Circle in the Square Theatre School. She is a writer for The Lafayette, president of Le Cercle Français, and a member of the Newman Association and the Delta Delta Delta sorority.

Colby Block ’06 (Madeline Beck) is a double major in government & law and philosophy from Boca Raton, Fla. This is her second College Theatre production; she also has participated in the Marquis Players’ spring musicals. She is a Marquis Scholar and McKelvy Scholar and a member of Delta Delta Delta and the Lafayette Dancers. She also works at Kirby Sports Center as a recreation supervisor.

Timothy Frey (sound designer) is resident sound and music designer for Lafayette College Theater and sound engineer for the College’s Performance Series. He has also designed sound and composed music for Touchstone Theatre, Lehigh University Theatre, and Pennsylvania Youth Theatre. He is a member of ASCAP and the Dramatist’s Guild.

D. Polly Kendrick (costume designer) has designed costumes for productions ranging from Aida at Hawaii Opera Theater to A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Her credits include The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Threepenny Opera, Chicago, Madame Butterfly, Horton Foote’s Roads to Home with Jean Stapleton, jon & jen off-Broadway, and The Bartered Bride for New York City Opera. She is resident costume designer at Lafayette and at Wagner College.

Richard Kendrick (scenic designer/technical director) has served as designer/technical director at the Williams Center since 1983. He has also designed three tours of the National Shakespeare Company, for regional opera, and off-Broadway.

Jessica Lenza ’05 (Theresa) is a double major in religious studies and music from Hackettstown, N.J. She played Lyubov Ranevskaya in The Cherry Orchard and Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors. Her other performances include title roles in Sugar, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, and Chris in Rumors. She is a member of the Arts Society, Hillel Society, and the Cadence female a cappella group.

Chris Jupitz ’08 (Tony) is from Grasonville, Md. He appeared in such productions as The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 and Bang Bang You’re Dead in Easton, Maryland.

John Kolba ’06 (Howard) is an electrical and computer engineering major and theater minor from Chelmsford, Mass. This is his seventh College Theater production; most recently, he played Pischik in last spring’s The Cherry Orchard. He is vice president of the Dry Surfers, treasurer of the History Club, and a member of the Arts Society Lafayette Activities Forum. He works as a Williams Center usher.

Eric Merklinger ’05 (assistant stage manager) is an international affairs major from Plainfield, N.J. This is his first College Theatre production. He is a member of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity and Le Cercle Français.

Joe Narkevic ’06 (Mercer Stevens) is a mechanical engineering major from Ambridge, Pa. This is his first College Theater production; he has performed in Played Out’s Unspeakable Acts. He is a member of the mock trial team, Residence Hall Council, and Animé Club.

Vicki Neal (lighting designer) is an Easton-based scenic and lighting designer whose work has been seen in professional theaters and colleges from Philadelphia to New York City. At Lafayette, Vicki has recently designed Dutchman, Little Shop of Horrors, The Cherry Orchard, The Real Inspector Hound, and Two Gentlemen of Verona. Her other local designs include The Caucasian Chalk Circle, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Oedipus at Northampton Community College; and The Barber of Seville, Pirates of Penzance, and The Marriage of Figaro for Lehigh University’s music department. Her other productions this season include Kiss Me Kate, Chess, Pirates of Penzance, and later this season at Lafayette, You Can’t Take It With You.

Jakub Pritz ’05 (Les Kennkat) is a physics major and theater minor from Holmes, Pa. This is his first role in a College Theater production. He is a member of the varsity swimming and diving team and a DJ for Lafayette’s radio station, WJRH.

Categorized in: Students