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‘Proposals’ offers big laughs for all

“‘Proposals’ is a memory play about love, relationships, hope and forgiveness: all basic elements of the human experience,” said Courtneay Sanders, ORU’s director of theater.

For the second time in 15 years, the ORU drama department performed “Proposals” by Neil Simon, with opening night on Oct. 31.

Over the course of four performances, the student cast brought the 1950s period show to life, and portrayed heartache and passion with all the excellence of a professional theater.

Natalie Spack, the female lead of the show, plays Josie, a young girl trying to enjoy what’s left of her childhood and figure out her future. Spack played this role with poise and energy. Her youthful interpretation regaled audiences and brought vivacity to every scene.

The part of Clemma, the family’s maid, was played by Ashley Hazzard, who brought the character a sense of dignity, maturity and responsibility. Her portrayal of a motherly figure brought the whole show together. Hazzard was comedic, yet serious. Her responsibility as the character who teaches the morals of the show did not go unnoticed. Hazzard reminded audiences that hope in love is possible at any age.

The comedic portrayal of Josie’s father by Will Acker had audiences splitting their sides with laughter. Nobody will forget his quirky stance, or the authenticity that Acker brought to his lines.

Perhaps the most comedic was the performance of Brandon Richards as Vinnie Bavasi. As the comedic relief of the show, Richards portrayed a gangster from Miami, complete with an all white suit, matching fedora and a perfect, emphatic gangster accent. Audiences won’t forget Richards storming in and dancing away with their swooning hearts.

Though the cast was the crown jewel of the show, audiences could not help but admire the intricate set. A perfectly recreated log cabin house front was displayed on the Howard stage. Thanks to Matt Saitas, the scene shop foreman, as well as light and set designer Jared Cole, assistant professor of theatre, the set for ‘Proposals’ was brought to life.

When “Proposals” was originally produced in 1997, the show was designed to be directed by a professional with a youthful spirit; Courtneay Sanders has channeled that idea with Kelsie Kemper, a 2013 ORU alumna. She brought a new perspective to the show that could not have been communicated otherwise.

President William Wilson attended the matinee show on Sunday and was thrilled with the performance.

“The play was great. Scenery, costumes and production values were excellent and our students were fantastic in their acting,” said President Wilson in an email to the ORU theater department.

“We were impressed and excited following the performance,” said Wilson. “Presidential pride filled my heart as I watched our students utilize their talents with exceptional skill and energy.”

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