PORTSMOUTH – The Portsmouth Little Theater as just two shows left in its season: Footloose and Every Brilliant Thing.
Every Brilliant Thing, written by Duncan Macmillan in 2013, is a one-person show that features interactive monologue, audience participation, and deals with themes such as mental health, depression, and suicide. It tells the story of a woman confronted by her mother’s depression while she begins curating a list of all the amazing things that make life worth living.
When casting the show, Director Kayla Parker intended to select just one person for a single night show. However, there was so much community interest in the role, it quickly expanded.
“We had so much interest,” said Parker. “It was going to be one person at first. But so many people wanted to be a part of it because of the subject matter. I decided to add a second night and a second person. But I couldn’t choose just two – I ended up with five amazing cast members that are going to give audiences five completely different experiences in our theater.”
Every Brilliant Thing premiers Friday, May 5th and run through Saturday May 13th. It features Chelsey Mitilien (May 5th), Shannon Grice (May 6th), Amber Kasper (May 11th), Eva Martin (May 12th), and Pam Klinepeter (May 13th).
Each actress is encouraged to change things in the script, including dates, references, names, and songs to fit their telling of the story.
“When I was 10, my dad committed suicide,” said Mitilien. “It is very personal to me. There’s a statistic out there, that if a parent has committed suicide, you have an increased chance of doing it. So, mental health has always been very important to me…I’ve added so many pieces of my dad to this show. I’m doing it for him and the struggles he went through and to raise awareness.”
“In my job, I support social and emotional needs,” said Kasper. “So this is an outlet for me to practice what I preach and to bring awareness to mental health. It hurts my heart to know that there are 8 billion people in the world and some people still feel alone.”
Each of the lead actresses bonded over the first rehearsal, sharing stories of their own mental health struggles.
“I’m thankful Kayla (Parker) found this show,” said Eva Martin. “It is so impactful. All of us have bonded over it.”
“This show deals with a lot of heavy issues and subject matter,” said Klinepeter. “But it does so with humor and hope. You will laugh, cry, but you will feel better at the end.”
“We really bonded over this show,” said Grice. “And we’ve all made it our own in different ways…We each bring such a different life experience to the stage.”
Tickets for the show are available at pltlive.com. There is currently a special in which patrons can attend all shows for $40.
“This is a totally different experience than anything we’ve done at PLT,” said Parker. “But it’s not just about depression and suicide. This show is about love. And family dynamics. There are so many moments where people will see their own experiences reflected on the stage.”
A portion of the proceeds from the show will be donated to the Scioto Foundation’s Suicide Prevention Scholarship, given to children affected by suicide.