UT fever


Fanning herself with her hands under the bright ceiling lights in the Reynolds Club’s third-floor Frances X. Kinahan Theater, Hannah Kushnick, ’07, director of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, notes that the play’s cast and crew have become very attached to the fan. Not an electric fan, but the giant Chinese fan suspended above the stage. Below it, an assortment of items—tennis rackets; a velvety couch; a wooden table; a gold-colored gramophone; two fringed ottomans; a headless, one-armed female statue; a white-and-blue vase bursting with colorful flowers atop an old piano; and a stand with wine bottles and glasses—fight for floor space.

Soon the lights go down and the stage comes alive in a flamboyant, frenetic performance of the British play about the eccentric Bliss family and their weekend houseguests. The nine student actors swerve from polite chitchat to soap-opera drama—marked by lighting changes to blue or red—in the blink of an eye, hamming it up with exaggerated facial expressions and gestures while hardly flubbing a line. The three acts are punctuated by two intermissions, featuring 1920s period music and an original tune by Dan Sefik, ’08, which he sang through paper tubes, called “Isn’t It Bliss?”

In summers past, the Music Department organized a Shakespeare festival, but it dwindled until a single play, performed by University Theater (UT) in Hutchinson Courtyard, remained. This year, because of money issues, staff turnover, and renovations of the Reynolds Club’s first- and third-floor theaters, the Shakespeare show went “on hiatus,” according to Kushnick and production manager Reid Aronson, ’06. That’s why Kushnick is directing Hay Fever, UT’s only summer 2005 production, now; she originally planned to propose it for the school year.

“It’s been a great experience,” says Kushnick, who laughed a great deal during Wednesday’s final dress rehearsal and says the actors “do a really good job of keeping it fresh and doing it differently every night.” She enjoys the more relaxed summer atmosphere. “Everyone doesn’t have homework and school tugging beneath them,” she says, “so we can just have a good time.”

Hay Fever opened Thursday night and has three more $2 performances: Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. and Friday of O-Week, September 24, at 3:30 p.m.

Hana Yoo, '07

Photo: Hay Fever’s cast dances off the stage after curtain call.

Photo by Brian Klein, ’07

August 19, 2005