By Josh Greenfield — Staff Writer
Published: October 10th, 2012 3:55 pm
With showstoppers such as “Legally Blonde,” “Spring Awakening” and “Enemy of the People,” the 2012-13 main stage series at Ithaca College certainly possesses a great amount of potential for brilliance. The opening of “Man From Nebraska” proves that this season is definitely on track to be one to remember, as it delivers powerhouse performances and magnificent production values that combine to create true theatrical excellence.
“Man From Nebraska” is a Pulitzer Prize nominee written by Tracy Letts, who garnered much acclaim from his recent Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “August: Osage County.” The story surrounds Ken Carpenter (sophomore Coleman Hemsath), a middle-aged man who journeys to England in an effort to answer the harrowing questions of faith and belief that have recently caused him to question his religion. As Ken continues his journey, his neglected family begins to suffer and question whether he will ever return.
The cast is magnificent in their portrayals of these deeply emotional characters, despite the fact that most of the characters are generations older than the actors playing them. Hemsath stands out by displaying heart-wrenching emotion in his character as he struggles through a difficult time in his life. Alongside Hemsath is senior Emily Austin as Ken’s wife, Nancy, whose performance evokes the audience’s sympathy with her portrayal of her character’s loneliness as her husband leaves on his journey.
Aside from the performances, the technical and creative elements of the show also help the production achieve its high quality. The scenic design, by senior Renny Cullen, consists of simple gray blocks, yet they still manage to convey each location without confusion. The set pieces could easily be mistaken for modern art and are placed all along the inside perimeter of the theater.
Director Wendy Dann, assistant professor of theater arts, provides superb casting and beautiful staging that is simple and yet still manages to perfectly convey the plot to the audience.
Overall, this play stands as a testament to the high-quality productions that the college’s theater program is known to produce. A perfect way to begin this year’s theater season, “Man From Nebraska” exudes so much heart, power and general excellence that it will push many in the audience to move straight to the box office at its conclusion in order to purchase tickets for the remainder of the season.
Man From Nebraska will run until Oct. 13. at Clark Theatre. Admission is $4.50 for students Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday and $5 Thursday, Friday and Saturday.