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Theater Review: End Days at Spectrum Theater

Underwriting support from:

GRCC Players Production of End Days by Deborah Zoe Laufer

"End Days" by the GRCC Players, showing November 4 - 6, 2010

Location: Spectrum Theater, 160 Fountain N.E.

Director: Tom Kaechele

Cast List (in order of appearance): Nelson (Jacob Loader), Rachel (Sarah-Anne Truskowski), Arthur (Steven Monroe), Stephen (Henry Marcusse), Jesus (Micah Hazel), Sylvia (Camille VanderWeide)

Rachel Stein is having a tough year. Her father hasn't gotten out of his pj's since 9/11. Her new neighbor (17 year old Elvis impersonator) has fallen for her hard. And her mother thinks the apocalypse is coming... on Wednesday. She's hoping Stephen Hawking will save them all.

Box Office hours: Monday through Friday, 1 to 5 p.m.

This show contains graphic language.

"End Days" by the GRCC Players is showing November 4 - 6.

"End Days" by the GRCC Players is showing November 4 - 6. /Spectrum Theater at GRCC

The message of a neurotic and anxiety filled “End Days” is, in the end, acceptance. Playwright Laufer hits home while her cast runs the audience around a multitude of mixed emotional states. The Stein family has become disfunctional during the two years since their personally traumatic experience of 9/11. Throughout the two act play understandings equivalent to an attic full of boxes, quieting lively games and childhood memories, open as to why each member behaves in their unique extremes.

Rachel’s (Sarah-Anne Truskowski) anger shows as dark as her black goth clothing and teenage stereotypical attitude. Surprisingly her four lettered lines did not bring about any sighs that were noticeable (teenage stereotypical attitude?), but for effect the value was a turn off. Father and husband, Arthur (Steven Monroe) is depressed and finds it exhaustive to repeat the duties of one’s day including showering and changing out of his pajamas. The Jesus loving mother Sylvia (Camille VanderWeide) shares her faith but with invasive devotion, especially concerning her own family. At one moment a benevolent Nelson (Jacob Loader) is overwhelmed with first-love yearning for Rachel while also trying to help her father Arthur get out of the house to buy cereal. He does all with a smile and eager expression, where the pulse of the play is found. Jesus (Micah Hazel) lends a line drive relaying how he has to leave so he can come back. Hence, “The Rapture.” Stephen Hawking (Henry Marcusse) appears as a hallucination and spins robot-voiced wisdom and hilarious quips.

The Grand Rapids Community College Players ensemble is believeable and may have audience members feeling at home.

The stage for "End Days" displays clean white lines from the retro kitchen table to the two door locker set (high school) where separate scenes fade in and out. Framed religious crosses, Stars of David, Starbucks, Shop Rite, and Pleasure Chest signs hang from the ceiling placing the mentioning of each in the forefront of one’s mind’s eye. Songs reminiscent of “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M. sing between scenes, making the wait even shorter.

The audience’s claps are louder and louder at the end of each scene while laughter peppers throughout the performance. Two more showings offered at 8 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, Nov. 5-6. Tickets are $10 ($3-5 for students and faculty) and may be purchased by calling ahead at (616) 234-3946 or directly at the window.

A hail to the production staff

This is an important part of any production, but certainly an integral part of GRCC's student productions at Spectrum Theater:

Assistant Director: Sammy Publes

Production Stage Manager: Ken Johnson

Scenic Design: David Miller

Lighting Designer: Paul A. Dreher

Costume Designer: Jessica Frymire

Properties Designers: Dawn Highhouse and Tracey Walker

Sound Designer: Steve Nardin

Hair Design and Style: Neil Trevisan

Technical Director: Michael Empson

Scene Shop Assistants: Sam DeLosSantos and Eric Gorney

Theater Systems Technician: Catherine F. Dreher

Lighting Control: Courtney Jenkins

Sound Control: Ashley Brooks and Bill Blackburn

House Manager: Taylor Lannan

Box Office Staff: Taylor Lannan and Miescha McCuan

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Thanks for giving us a sense of the show and play. I can see why it's a hit in regional theater. I mean, Elvis, Hawking, AND Jesus. It's the holy trinity.

Nelson was played by Jacob LOADER, not Jacob Ladder.