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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

What to expect from the Tufts theater scene this spring

See family and friendship, murderous antics and soul-searching on stage this semester.

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The Aidekman Arts Center, home of Tufts TDPS, is pictured in August 2020.

With the start of a new semester at Tufts comes a new wave of theater performances on campus. From the theater department to Torn Ticket II and Pen, Paint, and Pretzels, we can expect a semester full of art and passion.

The Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

Every semester, TDPS puts together a musical or play starring Tufts students — a major collaboration between the faculty and students. This semester’s show is “Twelfth Night.” 

Adapted from the Shakespearean classic and conceived by Shaina Taub and Kwame Kwei-Armah, “Twelfth Night” follows Viola (Bella Juhaeri), a shipwrecked young woman who finds herself in Illyria. In order to survive this new country, Viola dresses herself as a man named Cesario and begins to work for the duke, Orsino (June Beiser). With this typical case of mistaken identity and disguises, Viola falls for Orsino while Olivia (Leah Cohen), the grieving countess, falls for Cesario. As she navigates this new life and grieves for her twin brother, Sebastian (Ledao Gavaldà), she discovers more to herself and her own identity. With an exemplary music score and stacked cast, this production of “Twelfth Night” will be a must-watch this spring.

“Twelfth Night,” directed by Amelia Rose Estrada and Holly Bourdon, and with music directed by Matt Torres, will run Feb. 29 to March 10 in the Balch Arena Theater. 

Torn Ticket II

Torn Ticket II is one of three Tufts student theater organizations, and puts on two to three musicals every semester. This semester, TTII will be putting on “Heathers: The Musical” as its mainstage and “Pippin” as its workshop production. 

Based on the iconic movie “Heathers” (1988), this musical adaptation follows Veronica Sawyer in her senior year at Westerberg High. Written by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe, this cult classic explores Sawyer’s relationship with her classmates as she gets into the ‘it’ group of Heathers, leaves her former best friend Martha behind and falls for JD, the mysterious and rebellious new kid. After accidentally killing Queen Bee Heather Chandler, the two become intent on ridding the school of the remaining popular kids. As everything comes to a head, Sawyer must decide who and what she wants to be in the thunderdome of hatred, despair and, well, murder — AKA high school. Directed by Will Flamm with music directed by Alex Mansour, “Heathers: The Musical” shows Sawyer’s journey of finding her place in relationships and at school.

Performances of this timeless and classic story will run March 28–30 in Cohen Auditorium. 

“Pippin” follows the young prince of the same name as he searches for purpose and happiness in a world fueled by power and glory. Pippin starts by searching for happiness in war, out of loyalty to his father and state. He soon finds that what he is looking for comes not from otherworldly endeavors and glorious adventures, but from simple pleasures and pastimes with other humans. Written by Stephen Schwartz, this story carries the weight of what true happiness is. Performed in a small, speakeasy style, this production of “Pippin” brings its audience right into its world, complete with groovy choreography, great musical numbers and comedic storytelling.

The play will be co-directed by Maya Puffer and Wylie Doak, choreographed by Puffer. Its music will be directed by Kevin Tong alongside Milo Shields, who directs vocals. "Pippin" will be performed on April 19 and 20 at 51 Winthrop St.

Pen, Paint, and Pretzels

Pen, Paint, and Pretzels is Tufts’ oldest student organization, and conventionally puts on two plays each semester — one a mainstage production and the second, a workshop. This semester, 3Ps will be putting on “Eight Women” as its mainstage and “Walking Backwards” as its workshop production.

Originally written in French by Robert Thomas and set during a harsh 1950s winter, “Eight Women” delves deep into the secrets that spill out after a family’s patriarch, Marcel, has been found murdered. The eponymous eight women, all suspects with their own motives, must find who is guilty. As the minutes crawl past, we come closer and closer to finding the murderer: Was it the wife, the sister-in-law, the mother-in-law, the eldest daughter, the youngest daughter, the maid, the nanny or, perhaps, Marcel’s very own sister? As the play progresses, more and more of the dirty underbelly of the family becomes exposed. Secrecy, adultery, murder, and, of course, a dash of comedy come together for this must-watch play. 

Directed and translated by Juliet Baker and Claudia Henry, “Eight Women” will run April 11–13.

“Walking Backwards,” is an original play written and directed by Rowan Cunningham. It follows Rose, a transgender woman in college and explores her relationship with her asexual father Scott. Told in reverse chronological order, this play dives deep into what it means to form a family, to experience a loss and to find a place of belonging. Complete with queer representation from asexual, transgender and gay identities, this story aims to be a reflection of the beauty and twists and turns that come in life, college and love of all kinds.

Performances of “Walking Backwards” will be Feb. 15–16 in Barnum Hall, room 008, in the form of a staged reading of the text.

Interested in auditioning or being a part of the theater scene on campus? Reach out to Torn Ticket II, 3Ps or Envision: Black Student Theater for more information!

Correction: A previous version of the article misstated the music director of “Pippin.” It is Kevin Tong, not Wylie Doak.