By MARK LINDSLEY
The University Players performed “Quoth Edgar Allen Poe: a dramatic reading of classic Poe suspense stories” from Nov. 16 through Nov. 19. This show was different from the troupe’s performances of the past in a few ways.
One notable difference was the cast, which included seven freshmen who were all performing for the first time at the university. The only returning cast members were senior Jillian Guarino, FDU alumnus Michael Lugo and Associate Dean of Petrocelli College Thomas Swanzey.
The other significant difference between this performance and those from the past was that previous shows were plays, while this performance was a dramatic reading. The main reason for this was the freshman filled cast, but the quality of their performance showed that they have the work ethic and performance ability to produce plays in the future. The four Poe stories that they performed were “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Raven.”
Although they were reading the stories from the binders they were holding, the cast appeared to have a lot of lines memorized.
Whether they were reading their lines or not, one thing that was clear was their understanding of the stories they were reading, which was most likely the result of the many hours of practice they put into this performance. They delivered their lines with such emotion that it really brought the audience into Poe’s world.
All of the four readings were well performed, but their performance of “The Cask of Amontillado” might have been the most memorable. While Guarino, Ja’shonique Greenway and Taylor Hayman narrated the story, Swanzey played the role of Fortunato and
Samantha Itturalde played the role of Montresor.
The combination of emotional narration and spot-on acting resulted in some of the audience members forgetting that they were at a play and feeling like they were watching a movie. Overall, the quality of the entire performance showed the bright future that The University Players’ seven freshman have. At the same time, it showed o the leadership abilities of Guarino, Lugo and Swanzey, as well as the producing abilities of James Rana and the directing abilities of Athos Vardouniotis.
A performance that may have been viewed as a trial run by those who didn’t see it was thoroughly enjoyed by everybody who did. If this is where this group of freshman is starting from, then they have the potential to be one of the best casts that The University Players has ever had.