March 12, 2018
FloArts presents the dark comedy “The Marriage of Bette and Boo”
The Florida School of the Arts, located on the Palatka campus of St. Johns River State College, presents “The Actors’ Project: ‘The Marriage of Bette and Boo,’” by Christopher Durang. The show will be performed in the Studio Theatre Thursday, March 29 to Saturday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 1 at 2:30 p.m. Admission is free, but seating is limited. Reservations can be made by calling 386-312-4300 beginning March 26.
According to Director Patricia Crotty, “The Marriage of Bette and Boo” is an unusually written play because it is both incredibly funny and sad. “It slaps those two things side by side, kind of the way it happens in life,” she said. “In the middle of a very sad moment, there could be something funny, and right on top of the happy moment, there could be something dark that happens.”
Suitable for ages 18 and older, Crotty explained that the story deals with “many heavy subjects in a rather irreverent way. It addresses our expectations about a perfect life, especially that of creating a perfect family,” she said. “A lot of the problems in the play come out of trying to be the ideal, perfect, functional family, and that actually creates more dysfunction than it solves,” Crotty continued. “The play has dark humor that comes out of moments when we can either just fall apart and cry or find something to laugh about.” For one character, in particular, laughter becomes his ‘medicine.’
A performance with the potential to entertain, enlighten or offend, Crotty believes that “The Marriage of Bette and Boo” is a play that people will either love or hate.
Opening with the marriage of Bette and Boo and moving through points in their married life, the son of this couple, the play’s narrator, attempts to figure out his parents’ marriage and dysfunctional family. As an adult, he is interested in sorting out the history of his family – from either before he was born or when he was too little to understand what was going on – while trying to avoid becoming like his family. He tells his story in a fragmented and funny, albeit dark, way.
Crotty said that a great deal of the play’s humor comes from the dysfunction. “The play does a really nice job of using the character of the child to let us see the various dysfunctional people, while identifying with the child who is the functional one,” she explained. “You will recognize people you ‘know’ -- and their problems. There’s a lot of that.”
Because this fragmented-memory story is not told in chronological order, “The Marriage of Bette and Boo” presents many acting challenges. For instance, one minute it’s filled with humor, followed by extreme seriousness the next. And because there are few transitions between those acting elements, it puts demands on the performer to be real in each unfolding moment.
Set in the ‘50s, but jumping around from about 1949 to 1985, the costume crew had to create costumes that would work well in different time periods. “We definitely use some of the iconic silhouettes of the ‘50s and ‘60s,” Crotty noted, highlighting how interesting the student work for this play has been and that “Winnie the Pooh” characters pop up and are mentioned often in the show. “The costume designer has pulled a lot of images for the fabric pattern and things like that from that story book,” she said.
The set design also required one that would flow with the way the play leaps over time. “Rob (scenic designer) had to create a very fluid, flexible environment, which I think he has done beautifully,” Crotty stated, describing a set of boxes that have cupboards and drawers in them that keep transforming to create the various spaces of the show. The audience will see iconic images of family life from certain time periods, such as the radio, stove, toaster and hula hoop. “The set is kind of a mash-up of all the rooms of a house and all the iconic occasions of a family, including Christmas, Thanksgiving and the birth of a child,” said Crotty.
Along with the dark, irreverent and, sometimes, critical humor that Crotty wants the audience to be aware of, she said that “The Marriage of Bette and Boo” also offers good doses of tenderness and forgiveness of our humanity. However, she warns that some of the deeply challenging life issues addressed in this play, such as divorce and stillbirth, could hit too close for home for some, especially if audience members are personally dealing with these issues and aren’t ready to see any humor in them.
Cast members are: Robert Allen as Paul Brennan; Mitchel Burns as Matt; Yul Carrion as Boo Hudlocke; Jid Charles as Doctor; Tatiyana Firth as Soot Hudlocke; Anna Guzman as Emily Brennan; Malik Johnson as Father Donnally; Bethany McLain as Margaret Brennan; Emily Skinner as Bette Brennan; Maycee Smith as Joan Brennan and Chris Toombs as Karl Hudlocke.
The production team includes Stage Manager Brandy Ramos; Music Director Kandie Smith; Staff Technical Director, Scene Shop Manager and Scene Designer Robert O’Leary; Costume Faculty Supervisor Emily Schafer; Costume Shop Manager Tiffany Jordan; Costume Designer Sarah Cox; Assistant Director Cameron Bartelt; Assistant Stage Manager Loudise Ortiz-Hernandez; Production Assistants Brianna Osmond and Guzman; Vocal Captain Burns; Technical Director and Light Board Operator Andrew Stevens; Sound Designer Brittany Posso; Sound Board Operator Brandy Ramos; Lighting Designer Braden Harrington; Paint Charge Guzman; Master Carpenter John Robinson; Properties Masters Posso and Robinson; Carpenters, Electricians and Painters: Cameron Bartelt, Kati Blankenship, Jahleel Christian, Dana Cox, Crystal Cruz, Matias De La Flor, Danielle Dubois, Melissa Gibbs, Guzman, Harrington, Ortiz-Hernandez, Posso, Robinson, Stevens, Vincent Ward, Billy Williams and Tom Wingfield; Wardrobe Supervisor Danielle Brownfield; Cutters and Drapers: Uvenka Jean-Baptiste, Sarah Cox, Jordan and Schafer; First Hands and Stitchers: Brownfield, Marissa Mendez and Jasmine Saumat; Costume Construction Crew: Charles, Kaylee Dowd, Jessica McCumber, Alysa Ness, Ramos, Smith and Jordan Tucker; and House Manager Stephen Martin. Understudies are Bartelt, Charles, Sofia Ferraro, Kevin Figueroa, Allyson Futch, Emma Gazdecki, Ashley Leake, Osmond and Ward.
Florida School of the Arts is part of the academic and administrative structure of SJR State and awards the two-year associate degree. The School serves the entire state of Florida and is located on the SJR State Palatka campus. For more information, call 386-312-4300 or visit the website at floarts.org.
Florida School of the Arts students Emily Skinner and Yul Carrion provide a glimpse into their wedded bliss in the upcoming Actors’ Project, “The Marriage of Bette and Boo,” a dark comedy that addresses the common expectations about building a perfect life. The play runs March 29 - April 1 in the studio theatre.
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