‘Middletown’ Shatters All Expectations

'Middletown' brought yet another unforgettable performance to the campus of MSU, showing the dedication of the students in the Theater Studies department.

Middletown brings audience to their feet.

Montclair State University’s Department of Theater and Dance does it once again! The graduating Theater Studies majors’ last show, Middletown, was an honest and transparent view of the human cycle. Middletown was about life, death and, most importantly, what makes up the middle.

Middletown, written by Will Eno, explored the universal concept that we are all connected through the binding fact that we are human. Regardless of race, age, color, historical background, personal goals or life’s struggles.  Middletown reminded us that we are all together on this wonderful, beautiful and at times even tragic journey of discovery that is life.

From the moment the show began, full house lights up, people muttering in their seats, shifting their weight, trying to get comfortable for the play that was about to unfold. A single character came from the audience, addressing us all in a way that seemed like a personal message to each and every audience member. Middletown established that it isn’t a fictional place that we have to use our imaginations to explore, but rather it is every town, every place, every person.

Contemporary Dance
© Mihai Blanaru | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The set was designed by Aaron Turetsky and really helped promote the surreal yet genuine perspective that director Debbie Saivetz clearly was after for the full production of the show.  Sets that appeared to be very realistic residential homes and official town buildings cut just small enough to open up, giving the audience a perspective of “looking in the window” into Middletown homes. The L. Howard Fox Theater presented the perfect theater space to create the critical feel of intimacy the text calls for.

The incredible cast has worked tirelessly for the past year developing Middletown into the remarkable production it turned out to be. For the past four years, the students of the graduating BA Theater Studies program have worked very hard together to create a wonderful theater ensemble.

“Four years of building an ensemble resulted in the perfect pay off: us just being able to go out there and be ourselves on stage,” said David Acosta, a cast member of Middletown.

Middletown is not your classical production of Grapes of Wrath or Cat on A Hot Tin roof. Middletown’s text has a bit more of a dreamlike quality to it. For example, while exploring simple conversations, such as one between a pregnant patient and her doctor, what may appear as a silly, comedy-filled conversation really has such substance and weight discussing philosophies and views pointing towards life itself.

Although Middletown was an ensemble-based show, the main plot line followed two characters, Mary (Lindsey Minarchi) and John (Daniel Rutz), and how they discover each other and themselves through each other and the other towns people of Middletown.  The chemistry between Minarchi and Rutz was so vibrant and really gave the show the passion that really drove the message of the production home for audience members.

“No individual was greater than another,” said Rutz. “Whenever we worked on a scene, it wasn’t let’s work on John and Mary’s scene, but rather as an ensemble let’s discuss. We did a great deal of movement and emotionally based exercises exploring our environment and really discovering the character that is the town itself.”

“We not only worked together on one of the bigger theatrical pieces some of us have done,” said Minarchi, “we also built a family of lifelong friendships.”

Middletown was inspiring and had the audience laughing quite a good deal. Middletown at times even had the audience on the verge of tears. Most importantly, Middletown made the audience think!

Coming next to the L. Howard FoxTheater is The Big Meal. Tickets are available at the box office located in the Alexander Kasser Theater or online at the Peak Performances website, peakperfs.org. The Kasser Theater is located towards the front of campus next to the Red Hawk Parking Deck.

Montclair undergraduate students are permitted one free ticket with their student ID. All tickets are $15. For light food and coffee, Cafe Diem is located across from the L. Howard Fox Theater and connected to the library. For a full menu available 24/7, the Red Hawk Diner is located on the far end of campus. Parking is available in the Red Hawk Deck as well as the Transit parking lot across campus. Public transportation that runs directly in front of the Kasser Theater is also available.

Be sure to come out and see another masterful work of theatrical arts!

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