This past weekend the Barnstormers hosted their Freshman One Acts, an annual performance featuring performances by members of the new class.The event — which was comprised of five short plays — put freshmen in the metaphorical and literal spotlight both on stage and behind the curtain and was a promising omen of great performances to come.
Senior and producer Maya Singh Sharkey reflected on this year’s showcase.
“Overall, I think this is the strongest showcase we’ve had,” she said. “We had a lot of talent coming in from the freshman.... The shows were hilarious, and the directors all worked really well.... I’m really happy with the product,” she elaborated.
Later, she also noted the importance of non-acting staff in the process of coordinating a production.
“We did a new thing where our stage managers and board [operator] are also freshmen, so they get an introduction to Hopkins theater as well, which I think is really valuable because supporting tech and actors are equally important to us as Barnstormers,” she said.
In the first play of the evening, Mary Just Broke Up With This Guy, a newly single young woman (freshman Holly Nelson) goes on a series of dates, rejecting suitor after suitor (all played by freshman Owen Welsh) in her quest for love and romance.
Welsh definitely deserves some credit for his rapid-fire character changes, switching from drawling Southerner to rat-torturing creep to some other red-flag-covered suitor at the press of a button.
He definitely brought the required manic energy to the role, but Nelson more than held her own, especially in the moments when she had the chance to go a little crazy herself. All in all, it was a funny and energetic start to the show, the perfect primer for the rest of the plays.
Mary was followed by Off the Map, in which a couple (freshmen Kylin McHugh and Sigrid Edson) navigate through a metaphorical landscape representing the various paths that their relationship might take.
Though it started off with a more serious tone, the play quickly took off with the introduction of a penguin (freshman Michelle Cho) that appeared and began giving the husband some life advice.
Without a doubt, Cho’s performance was the standout of this play; with some excellent moments of physical comedy and killer comedic timing, she commanded attention whenever she was on stage.
In Smoke Scenes, two characters (freshmen Katie Bomhoff and Sarah Kind) run through a series of quick sketches, all centered around smoke in some way.
What started out as a series of responses to the question, “Do you smell smoke?” quickly transformed into a waterfall of surreal and wonderful bits that managed to create hilarious jokes in only a few short seconds.
One moment the actors were reading advertisements for smoked sausages; the next moment, they were doing impersonations of famous actors and directors.
It was never clear what was going to come next, and Bomhoff and Kind were fantastic in every second of it. I literally cried from laughing so hard and was sorry to see it end.
Please Have A Seat and Someone Will Be With You Shortly featured freshmen Roxana Leal Toledo and Lily Wilson as a pair of patients who start to converse for the first time after regularly sitting next to each other in their therapists’ waiting room.
It was definitely the most dramatic scene of the evening; although there were a few comedic moments, the narrative was much more focused on the idea of fantasy and the relationships that people construct in their minds than humor.
Even though the material was a little more serious and the characters had a much more grounded arc, Wilson and Toledo did an excellent job of portraying the ebb and flow of the relationship between their characters as well as making the quick shifts in the play’s tone convincing.
That being said, none of the plays were more convoluted than the final performance of the evening, On the Porch One Crisp Spring Morning.
Despite the relatively serene-sounding title, the short featured a mother (freshman Brianna Groch) and daughter (freshman Hanna Al-Kowsi) engaged in a battle of wits after the daughter reveals that she has poisoned her mother’s morning cup of coffee.
From the get-go, the entire performance was incredibly campy, and the actors delivered each line like they were performing in a soap opera.
There were betrayals, ridiculous twists and an absolutely unforgettable hysterical back-and-forth between the two characters.
Al-Kowsi deserves credit for her hilarious facial expressions alone.
In the end, the Freshman One Acts were once again fantastically entertaining, and everyone involved did a wonderful job of bringing the shows to life.
Hopefully this marks the beginning of a long and fruitful career in the Hopkins theater community for the talented members of the cast and crew.
But even for those who are not pursuing such careers, it is clear that the Barnstormers are committed to creating a wonderful legacy of student performers for many generations to come.