“Voucher: Or That PTA Play” is A Story That Needed To Be Told

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Photo by Libby East

Written by Libby East, Features Editor

 “Voucher: Or That PTA Play,” written by UCM Theater Technology professor Benjamin Gonzales and directed by UCM Theater Professor Aaron Scully, had its world premiere on Feb 24th in the Highlander Theater and ran until Feb 27th, with Sunday being a pay-what-you-can matinee. The production told the story of a small town PTA that had fallen upon hard times after the introduction of a new, fancy charter academy to their district. There were many content disclosures that audiences were warned about prior to the showing, and these were addressed very elegantly through the storytelling of the play in a manner that didn’t make fun of or over-exaggerate the qualities of the minorities being discussed. Each actor gave it their all when it came to the characterization of the cast and succeeded at telling a story that needed to be told. The show was riddled with strong performances, however senior Musical Theater BFA Charlotte Sipple, playing Deborah Holloway, definitely stood out. Every word was heard, even without the use of mics, as her projection and diction were perfect. She was also able to really capture the personality, or personalities, of Deborah as the middle-aged white woman’s world came tumbling down around her. Another couple of characters that went above and beyond with their performances were senior BFA Performance major Noah Bryan, playing Scott Brown and sophomore BFA performance Keyvon Lewis, playing Tyrell White. Scott and his husband Tyrell faced ridicule and hardship during the story, being the only homosexual couple in this small town. The two are able to convey such complex emotions in a way that seems genuine and real, achieving complete immersion from the audience. With sudden outbursts and heart-breaking arguments, these characters were able to really tug at the heartstrings. Every couple in this performance had great chemistry on stage, especially Mariana and Francisco Salazar, played by junior music technology major Mekdelawit Keller and Steven Crockett. Another aspect of this show that can not go unmentioned was the tech crew. The use of music and light made this show what it was; a masterpiece. The musical transitions throughout the performance made this production seem more like an episode of “That 70s Show” or “Friends.” This also added to the level of engagement the audience felt, as there was always something going on. On the topic of engagement, audience participation was also a big part of this production. There were certain instances where characters broke the fourth wall, encouraging the audience to applaud or recognizing certain people in the audience by name who had helped with the production. Nearly all of these occurrences came from the mouth of cruel and villainous Jessica Johnson, played by sophomore music technology major Shana Sinow and Elaine Ernastine, played by senior BA music major Savannah Purkey. This production was the perfect example of a good dark comedy. With shocking scenes one moment, and humorous ones the next, this show never failed to keep the audience on the edge of their seats throughout the entirety of the two hour run-time.