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CCRI Players' production of 'The Receptionist'
selected for regional competition
Jan. 16, 2013
The Community College of Rhode Island Players’ production of “The Receptionist,” an office comedy with a dark side and a timely message, is in the running to compete for national honors. The students were selected to restage their play in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Region 1 competition, beating out shows performed all over New England and New York.
They will perform in Hyannis, Mass., on Jan. 31 for a chance to go on to the KCACTF National Festival. Before they leave, they will stage two special performances of “The Receptionist” at CCRI’s Flanagan Campus in Lincoln at 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26. Admission costs $10 and will help fund the students’ trip to the festival.
“This is as if CCRI is in the Sweet 16 looking to go to the Final Four,” said CCRI Assistant Professor Luke Sutherland, who directed the play.
Sutherland said that only five shows of about 60 that were in the running were picked to go to the Regional Festival in Hyannis. CCRI has not had this honor in about 20 years, he said, although individual actors and actresses have been honored for their work more recently.
CCRI Student Erin Archer won the Irene Ryan Acting Audition Award at the 2011 KCACTF. She plays the lead role in “The Receptionist” – the titular office assistant named Beverly – and has the privilege of competing with her fellow drama students.
“I’m excited that I get to perform in this play one more time with Alex [Rotella], Nick [Viau] and Brittney [Boudreau],” she said. “I love all of them and I’m glad we get to bring this production to the festival and show it to the rest of the region.”
The Jan. 26 performance at CCRI will serve both as an encore for the CCRI community and a chance to rehearse the stringent demands of the theater festival. In Hyannis, the students will have five hours to load in all of their equipment, set up the stage, don their costumes and makeup, perform the play and leave no trace of it to make room for the next production. The CCRI show will serve as a dry run and their one chance to simulate these conditions.
Sutherland said that the KCACTF judge who viewed the original run of “The Receptionist,” which was staged Oct. 18 to 21, selected it to advance to the Regional Festival for three reasons: It was a timely selection for the students to perform, it had a strong cast with great performances and it had good student design, including lighting, the set, sound and makeup.
“We have a strong script, a strong cast and crew and students who are really dedicated,” Sutherland said. “That’s what it takes.”
The CCRI Players will spend four days in Hyannis performing their play, watching their competitors’ shows and attending workshops on acting, set design and more. Only four productions from all eight regions will be chosen to go on to the National Festival in Washington, D.C.
Both Sutherland and Archer said the show’s cast benefitted tremendously from a visit to CCRI last fall by Adam Bock, the award-winning playwright who wrote “The Receptionist.” Bock met with the cast and crew and helped them better understand their characters.
“He gave us a lot of insight into what he was feeling while he was writing the play and he helped us to shape a better show,” Archer said. “Nothing helps more than talking to the playwright.”
She added, “I’m thrilled that we’re going to the festival and taking the whole show there. I think it will be wonderful.”
The cast includes Providence resident Erin Archer as Beverly Wilkins; Brittany Boudreau of Woonsocket as Lorraine Taylor; and Cranston natives Alexander Rotella as Martin Dart and Nick Viau as Mr. Raymond. Understudy Kerri Schiff of Providence completes the cast.
For the first time in CCRI Theatre program history, three of four major design elements were created by student designers in the Associate of Fine Arts technical track under the mentorship of Sutherland. Scenic design is provided by Branigan Duguay of Warwick, lighting design by Laura Ducharm of Woonsocket and sound design by Kaisey Caputo of Johnston. Makeup is by Krystal Terilli of West Warwick. Professor Jeffery Butterworth designed costumes.