Fairy tales and theatre magic: Cast n’ Crew produces Zoom play

A man holds up his hands with an expression of awe/disgust, there is a black and white filter over his image. On the right, a man holds up sock puppets with a pleading expression.

Freshman Maxwell Juhaus (left) and junior Henry Lin (right) in the Brothers Grimm fairytale “The Raven.” (Photo courtesy of Cast n Crew)

Typically, when you sit down to watch a Cast n’ Crew show, you’re amongst friends in the Village Black Box Theater. When that in-person feel isn’t possible, you work with what you have; in the age of  virtual semesters, you have Zoom. Cast n’ Crew’s spring play “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon,” directed by junior Dakotah Jennifer, took place over Zoom the weekend of April 16 and 17. The play, written by Don Zolidis, is a comical retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales that we’re all familiar with.

Actors appeared on screen, each in their own Zoom square, turning their cameras on and off to mimic entrances and exits. Zoom backgrounds helped set the scene, creating a cohesive viewing experience and helping to ground audiences in both a time and a place for each story. However, the two narrators, played by sophomore Caitlin Souers and freshman Peri Glick, had differing Zoom screens, reflective of the personalities of their respective characters. Souers took on the role of a more traditional, apathetically annoyed “by the fireplace” kind of narrator, while Glick’s narrator was more chaotic and less reserved. The pairing screamed ‘exasperated parent meets club-hopping game show host.’

A woman with short hair, bowtie, and purple background has a comically excited expression. On the right, a woman in a blazer with a fireplace virtual background is more subdued.

Freshman Perry Glick (left) and sophomore Caitlin Souers (right) as the narrators in “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon.”

At times the play was absurd and didn’t make much sense, but that can be attributed to the Zoom format—Zoom makes everything hard to follow. I can only assume that, had the show been done in-person, everything would have been much clearer at points when the specific fairy tale being performed became confusing. This might also be a shortcoming on my part in that there were some tales I was less than familiar with. That being said, it was impressive how well the actors were able to maintain the energy required to depict a cohesive storyline in front of their respective laptops. Despite my confusion at times as to what was going on, I found myself laughing as the actors put on different personas in the midst of their performance. Two actors in particular really stole the show—juniors Brylie Noe and Henry Lin.

Noe and Lin’s performances were the highlight of the evening. Lin took on the roles of fairy tale characters as well as an audience member. Hand in a Lay’s bag of barbecue chips, Lin reacted to the happily ever after trainwrecks with the vigor and exuberance of someone watching a horror movie for the very first time. Every side comment and physical tic that Lin made brought a smile to my face and a laugh to my eyes.

Noe’s performance was truly something special. The end of the play saw Noe playing every character in a retelling of Cinderella. Switching out costume elements, hand props and changing voices, Brylie became the one-woman show that I would pay to see again and again. With each character switch, she was funny and exaggerated, just like the situation—I laughed harder in those last ten minutes than I did the entire play, and I laughed quite a bit.

Thanks to Jennifer’s directorial skills and the general lovability of a good fairy tale, this play brought a smile to my face and a laugh to my lips. Logging onto the Zoom and joining the audience was a freeing moment of simple enjoyment, a reminder of the kind theatre that we all miss and cannot wait to get back to.

Editor’s Note: Junior Dakotah Jennifer is a staff writer for Student Life. She was not involved in the writing or editing of this piece.

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