News • April 08, 2021

CBU theatre performs comedy for its spring production

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Riverside, Calif. (April 8, 2021) – The theatre program at California Baptist University is bringing comedy to audiences with its spring production of “She Stoops to Conquer.”

Instead of performing live however, the CBU cast filmed its production on March 27. It will be available for streaming on the CBU Theatre Arts’ YouTube channel by May 1.

During rehearsals, everyone wore a mask or a face shield, but those came off for filming.

“So many schools aren’t getting a chance to work in person at all. We feel very blessed in that we are,” said Ethan Park, adjunct professor of theatre and the show’s director. “We’re very specific in the precautions we take. I tell them, ‘Take care of yourself, protect the crew, the cast and each other.’”

The story by Oliver Goldsmith takes place in the late 18th century. The play centers around the desire of Hardcastle, a wealthy landowner in the country, to marry off his daughter, Kate Hardcastle, to the well-educated Charles Marlow. A practical joke leads to mistaken identity and causes Kate to “stoop” when she pretends to be a humble barmaid to secure Marlow's affections.

“It still takes place as if it was the late 1700s, but we have thrown in some fun surprises for the audience to update it,” Park said.

Park said the play provides laughs and a message.

“You can look at it as this funny comedy from hundreds of years ago, but it has so much to do with our true self that we put forward,” Park said. “Are we putting on this mask in front of people and not being who we are or not treating people the way we should treat them?”

Dr. Joshua Rodriguez, assistant professor of music theory and composition, wrote the musical score. Park wanted the music to unravel throughout the play, gradually becoming unmoored from the 18th century, Rodriguez said. The music starts with the classical sound of the string quartet and then slowly incorporates instruments and musical styles from other genres and time periods.

“I love storytelling and collaboration—in particular film, theater and dance—and in a year in which so many composers lost work, I’m especially grateful for the work,” Rodriguez said.

Though theatre looks different, cast members said they learned a lot from their roles and enjoyed being on stage.  

Sophia Oliveri, a theatre junior who plays Mrs. Hardcastle, said the character took a lot of energy.

“Mrs. Hardcastle is a vocally demanding role. Her vocal pitch goes to the highest heights and the lowest lows,” Oliveri said. “Everything about this character is over the top. It's what I love the most and what was most challenging. I was the first in the makeup chair and the last person out, lathered in layers upon layers of makeup, hairspray and fabric.”

Ryan Lee, a communication studies and comedic arts senior, played Charles Marlow.

“The most challenging part has probably been the British accent,” Lee said. “I wasn’t just focusing on getting the old-timey language in my head, but I was also focusing on doing the accent right.”

Alexis Parsio, a theatre freshman, said she learned about herself while portraying Kate Hardcastle.

“One challenging thing for me has definitely been stepping out in confidence — however, I’d also say, that has been one of the most fun things, too,” Parsio said.

Parsio said she hopes people watching laugh and get lost in a wacky story.

“In a time like this, it’s easy to feel alone to face everything by ourselves, but I think theatre especially can bring people together, connecting everyone watching this silly heartwarming story,” Parsio said.

Lee said the cast had to find new ways to stay motivated in rehearsals beyond that opening-night feeling.

“Energy from a crowd is not easily replicated by any means,” Lee said. “In the end, it all comes down to passion for the art and the joy that comes from telling a story, regardless of the medium.”

Oliveri said the experience made the cast and crew stronger and has proven their resilience and adaptability.

“At the end of the day, I hope the audience is proud of us for what we made for the glory of God in spite of the crazy circumstances,” Oliveri said. “So many other theatres did not have the resources or opportunity to film a mask-free stage show, and yet here is the CBU theatre department.” 

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504