Theater production continues despite cast, technical setbacks

Paden Lemons

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Houston Pokorny, sophomore in theatre, participates in rehearsal for the theatre department’s production of Wiley and the Hairy Man. “It was very nerve-wracking because [Dement] told me we had two and a half weeks until the show and everyone else has been working for almost four weeks. I had to get my lines down, and I am mostly off book now, in a week,” Houston Pokorny, sophomore in theatre, said. “It’s been very challenging, especially coming in with everyone knowing their blocking and I felt like I was the total ‘new guy.’”

Houston Pokorny, sophomore in theatre, participates in rehearsal for the theatre department’s production of Wiley and the Hairy Man. “It was very nerve-wracking because [Dement] told me we had two and a half weeks until the show and everyone else has been working for almost four weeks. I had to get my lines down, and I am mostly off book now, in a week,” Houston Pokorny, sophomore in theatre, said. “It’s been very challenging, especially coming in with everyone knowing their blocking and I felt like I was the total ‘new guy.’”

Despite lighting booth issues and a lead with a broken toe, the theater department’s production of Wiley and the Hairy Man must go on.

“The show is going very well. It’s progressing nicely,” associate professor of theater John Dement said. “We have had some setbacks. The actor originally cast as Wiley broke his toe, but he was not actually eliminated from the show.”

Rehearsals started Oct. 14, and three weeks in, lead actor Zac Binx broke his toe.

Dement said Houston Pokorny is going to co-play Wiley, while Binx’s toe continues to heal. When the show opens, Pokorny will play Wiley in the matinee and Binx will play Wiley in the evening show. For Fridays performance Binx will play the matinee and Pokorny will play the evening show, and for the remaining shows, the two boys will alternate.

The actors have to coordinate rehearsal time. Pokorny rehearses for the first two hours of a three-hour rehearsal while Binx watches, and then Binx steps in and runs through with the notes he gathered from watching Pokorny.

“It was very nerve-wracking because [Dement] told me we had two and a half weeks until the show and everyone else has been working for almost four weeks. I had to get my lines down, and I am mostly off book now, in a week,” Houston Pokorny, sophomore in theater, said. “It’s been very challenging, especially coming in with everyone knowing their blocking and I felt like I was the total ‘new guy.’”

Coming on set so late in the game, Pokorny had to learn to work well with the other actors quickly.

“From an actor standpoint, the other actors in the show have commented on how interesting and fun it is to do the same show working off of two different leads,” Dement said.

The other actors and Pokorny had to work together to make the change work.

“The other actors are doing wonderful adjusting to me,” Pokorny said, “and I greatly appreciate it because it’s a lot of work.”

Two separate actors playing the same role may seem challenging, but Dement said it helped the cast and crew learn how to work with different people in lead roles.

“It’s fascinating that each of their interpretations of the character is so different, but they’re both right. They’re very different in their approaches to the character, but both of them are equally as good,” Dement said. “Being able to alternate those two actors will really benefit the show because they’ll be able to come in much fresher. In either case, we’re in really good shape.”

Zac Binx, junior in theater, and Heather Berryhill perform as Wiley and Mammy during rehearsals Tuesday night. "Wiley and the Hairy Man" will open in the Fain Fine Art theater Nov. 21 and will end Nov. 24.

Zac Binx, junior in theater, and Heather Berryhill perform as Wiley and Mammy during rehearsals Tuesday night. “Wiley and the Hairy Man” will open in the Fain Fine Art theater Nov. 21 and will end Nov. 24.

As the rehearsals progress, Pokorny works toward making the character his own and accepting the differences between he and Binx.

“We’re both two different roles, but it works perfectly for both of us. It is very hard, very challenging, but I’m honored to do it,” Pokorny said.

Another challenge arose when a soundboard broke during the fourth week of rehearsals.

“The other issue that we’re having with the show now, is that we’re having some issues with our lighting system. We identified what had broken, we overnighted it to the company that made it, they repaired it, and we will get it back on Wednesday,” Dement said.

Despite all these obstacles, the show will open Nov. 21 and end Nov. 24.

“Everything is progressing nicely,” Dement said. “The set’s coming together, the costumes are looking fantastic, everything is working out.”

Rachel Bullard, junior in theater, works as the assistant stage manager for this production.

“I love the fact that every time I see the show, I can see that the characters are having a ball portraying these quirky characters,” Bullard said. “To me, it is entertaining to see the actors entertain themselves, and when they leave the theatre, I hope the audience leaves with a sense of pure fun.”

Production schedule:

  • Thursday – Friday, Nov. 21-22,  7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 23, 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 24, 2:30 p.m.
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