IB Theatre students bring ‘The Fool’ and ‘Dr. Horrible’ to Fairmont

Muratore’s original production of “The Fool’s Journey” takes the stage on Feb. 21

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Photo: Nicholas Shupe

Sophomore Dani McClendon, a member of the ensemble for “Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” and IB Theater student Kevin Manley run through the blocking for for the production.

Students in Fairmont’s IB Theatre class aren’t expected just to study the theatre. Darren McGarvey wants his students’ learning to be genuine, and theatre involves bringing creations to the stage for others to see.

“I want students to take what they know about theatre and what excites them and make it real for the stage,” McGarvey said.

Each of the 12 students in the IB Theatre class must complete a project that is theatre-related. McGarvey said the projects can focus on any aspect of theatre, including costumes and staging. “They don’t have to necessarily involve a performance,” he said. At least two of the students, however, have chosen performance-based projects.

The first project will be presented at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21, in the Recital Hall. The Fool’s Journey was written, directed and produced by senior Christopher Muratore. It stars freshmen Jesse Herrick and Randall Cattell, junior Lauren Miles, and seniors Alex Brandt, Kevin Manley and Brad Steel. Admission is free for the 30-minute play.

McGarvey says Muratore’s play is inspired by the life of French playwright and actor Antonin Artaud, who was well-known for his experiences with the Avant-Garde movement and spent the final years of his life locked in a number of different asylums.

Muratore says he’s getting a good feel for what being a director of a production involves. “It’s like trying to fit 20 bumblebees in a pinhole,” he said. “Overall, though, it’s been enjoyable.”

Another IB Theatre project that’s creating some buzz around Fairmont is senior Kevin Manley’s version of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, a three-act musical tragicomedy that was released exclusively on the Internet in 2008. The original version was born out of frustration when the Writers Guild of America went on strike for 100 days in 2007-08.

The movie starred Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Felicia Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) and Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly). It was made on a small budget, but ended up winning numerous awards and has developed a huge following.

Fairmont’s Manley is one of those fans. “I just wanted to make it into a stage musical,” he said. “It’s not very offensive, and it shouldn’t need to be censored due to the limited audience.”

The main characters in the production are Dr. Horrible (a paradoxical protagonist and aspiring supervillain), Captain Hammer (the antagonistic hero); Penny (the love interest of Dr. Horrible); and Moist (Dr. Horrible’s sidekick).

Manley’s co-director is sophomore Taylor Shehata, and his co-producer is sophomore Maddie Schroll. Despite his leadership position, Manley chose not to give himself the lead in the production. “I decided I would rather see if there was anyone else I thought better fits the role.”

Even Manley was surprised by the turnout for the play’s auditions and the dedication of those involved. “I knew people liked Dr. Horrible,” he said. But he said he didn’t realize the extent of the interest until he had to print more than 30 audition sheets.

The lead role of Dr. Horrible went to sophomore Adam Duffy. Also starring in the Fairmont production are junior Christy Wright and freshman Seth Eggenschwiller. Manley will play Captain Hammer.

Manley is confident in his play. “I’m trying to make this a good professional experience for everyone,” he said. “I’m using my experience from plays and musicals here to run Dr. Horrible like Fairmont’s other productions.”

Manley’s play will staged sometime in May.

Later this spring, many of the IB Theatre students’ efforts will be staged during the school’s annual Dionysus Festival.

“Indigo Monbeck started the program last year and it’s been something that the students want to continue,” said McGarvey. The festival, based on the ideas of the Greek’s staging of plays to honor the god of wine and madness, will consist of multiple productions each period and will be open to English classes to bring their students.

“This will be the perfect venue for the IB students to stage small productions and for others to come, see and get as excited about theatre as we are,” McGarvey said.