The Portsmouth Little Theatre(PLT) has kicked off its 71st season with the play, The Humans, beginning yesterday evening and running this evening and again next weekend.
The PLT posts: The Humans tells the story of the quintessential family reunion: a group of people who love each other but still wrestle with basic human fears—old age, abandonment, poverty, and death. This is a play with equal parts humor and hurt and is guaranteed to have the audience on the edge of their seats.
“Jim Humphrey and I picked up this show almost right before auditions, it is my first time directing a show and when we read the script, we found out it was a two-story setting, which you can imagine is pretty difficult on this stage,” Rachel Hoople, the director of The Humans said. Humphrey approached me and said, hey I know you were interested in directing and I am very interested in the tech side of the show, there are a lot of really cool special effects in this show. There is a bit of horror, he is making that happen. He has built this amazing set and has come up with these really cool ways to bring the horror out. We were really excited to get to work together. We’ve worked as actors together before, and we both assisted during 1984, directing. We knew how to work with one another.
“When we had auditions, we had so many talented people come out, it was really difficult to decide who to put in this cast with this very difficult script, it is one of the most difficult scripts that I have ever read,” Hoople said. “We decided to go on the chemistry, when they read together. We have been so lucky with the cast that we have. They are portraying a family. Even from the first read-through, we could tell they were going to click and put on a really great show.”
In this show she says, “We have several people who have been on stage quite a few times at the PLT, some that have been on a few times, and we actually have two that are new to our stage.” She added that Kelli Riffe, who is playing the mother, has never acted before and is doing what she says is an amazing job.
The play Hoople said, is a family drama with a little bit of horror and comedy mixed in with it. “We have a family, they are the Blakes, who are coming together for Thanksgiving dinner coming to Brigid’s apartment for the first time. The father of the family, he has some secrets that come out in the play, that kind of dismantle the family dynamic and cause the biggest break in the play. Eric’s mother, who is suffering from dementia and is pretty well into the illness, is being portrayed by Kayla Parker. Parker has been doing some work backstage and will be an assistant director for the next show, The Witches,” Hoople said. “With that role, I am really proud, it’s such a difficult role for someone who has never suffered from an illness, especially someone with dementia, to be able to do that illness justice and be able to stay in character, she has done that very well. The one outsider on the stage, is Mitch played by Nathan Marcum, who is Bridgid’s boyfriend and the family is meeting him for the first time. It is probably one of the most beautiful plays I’ve ever read and one of the most difficult to learn, because it’s very conversational and it’s very family-oriented, they are talking over each other, interrupting one another, which comes naturally when you are speaking with your family, but not when six strangers come together.”
When asked how it felt to be on the other side of a show: “It is odd, I’m definitely enjoying it, but it was difficult at first, to kind of do the disconnect from being one with the cast that I am so used to, to kind of keep it on track,” Hoople said. “..It’s definitely been a new challenge, that I very much enjoy.”
Humphrey said, “I can’t remember when or how I referenced it, but the magic that happens here, I have witnessed it countless times, and now I’m getting to actually really feel the magic, the lightboard was foreign to me, the soundboard I couldn’t get it to work, but today it is working. I have been acting here many times and am looking forward to acting some more next year. I think I fit better doing this (technical) and acting.”
Playing the part of Brigid is Molly Davis, this is her first at PLT and she said she was nervous and excited. “It’s really weird, because there might be a conversation here and one up there, and we are overlapping each other, it’s like a family. I think things will come together.”
Cody Lightenheimer is playing the part of the father and has been involved in the theatre before, but had not done something for a while, after the birth of his daughter, Hattie who is turning four in December. “The role is very challenging and more than a father, he is a man of mistakes. He has that normal kind of masculine ego, he kind of struggles with himself and the roles he plays for himself and his family that he is supposed to play, it is pretty chaotic, it is a hard role to play,” Lightenheimer said. “I have that normal preshow anxiety, but I don’t want to flub anything. I think we’ve all worked really really hard and it’s a very difficult time in terms of work and life, it’s hard but it’s a lot of fun too, this theatre needs to stay open for a very very long time, it brings a service that I don’t think can be brought otherwise.”
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928
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