Original play about the founding of Lakeland is success

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Original play about the founding of Lakeland is success

Brittany Beckmann, Staff Reporter

Lakeland College’s original play, Soli Deo Gloria, written by director Charlie Krebs, assistant director Emma Drake, and the cast, captured the essence of Lakeland’s past, the impact of war tragedies, and the possibilities that lie ahead.

Soli Deo Gloria begins with four separate monologues from college founders depicting how Mission House (Lakeland College) came to be. While the information contained in the monologues was necessary, it gave the play a slow start.

The focus eventually switches to present day Lakeland College and follows nine seniors. The conversation throughout the scenes depicting student interaction were well done as it made the audience believe the students had known each other for years.

The first act takes time to clarify the distinction between the different time settings, but, despite this careful writing, it still isn’t clear why Dr. and Mrs. Bossard, played by Alan Fett and Michelle Fromm, go from interacting with other people in 1862 to sitting in a portrait frame.

The confrontation between the people from 1862 and the students from 2012 demonstrates the language barriers and the differences in clothing that have evolved over the past 150 years. Laughter ensues from the audience as people from both the past and present accuse the other of dressing in costume.

The college’s founders then realize they need to convence the students not to get rid of the “obsolete” library.

The laughter comes to an abrupt end when the students detail the wars the United States has been involved in since 1862. The conclusion of the scene created a sense that nothing but war and conflict has occurred since the mid-1800s as all positive historic achievements and occurrences were excluded.

While the Core IV students list off the different wars, Clara Winter, played by Miranda Miller, and Lydia Muehlmeier, played by Elizabeth Plotka, step forward hand in hand as they recite the Lord’s Prayer, showcasing their fear of what the United States will eventually face.

In the final scene of act one, the men from 1862 and the male students from 2012 decide to get together for a “guys night,” eliciting laughter from the audience. The scene depicts them chugging beer while the students explain the fundamentals of football and the Green Bay Packers. Stage manager Nevin Gordon-Keolanui, a freshman, says it’s his favorite scene because of the “drunk, old men.”

The “girls’ night out” scene was equally effective as a means of comic relief.

Despite the fact that this situation could never actually happen, the actors took hold of the scene and portrayed it in a way that was believable. Each character had such human qualities and depth that the audience could easily sympathize or, in some cases, empathize, with their situations.

During the brief scenes in which the students discover letters from people in the war, Krebs did a wondrous job of symbolizing death; the added visual of the recipient of the letter effectively elongated the suspension of disbelief. These people actually existed and the ones they loved really died.The audience was clearly moved.

The script incorporated a joke about Lakeland College’s current President, Dr. Grandillo. Grandillo treated the students with a surprise by participating in Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night’s performances.

As the play progresses, we learn that Adam, a Core IV student played by Patrick Johnson, lost his dad in the war in Afghanistan. Coincidently, the Bossards lost their son, Peter, in the civil war.

The founders have successfully convinced all the students to keep the library, except for Adam, who wants to forget the past.

Emotions run high as Dr. Bossard confronts Adam about his dad. The entire audience was engrossed by the acting in this scene as Adam reads the last letter his dad wrote to him before he died.

Meribeth Mazzi, a student, says, “I loved the scene between Bossard and Adam.”

Soli Deo Gloria effectively integrated Lakeland College’s past with today’s world. The balance between drama and laughter was perfect.

“It was so well played, it took my breath away,” says Marilyn Hamilton, a woman whose husband is a preacher at a local UCC church.

This play will certainly be remembered for years to come, and it provided entertainment for students and community members.

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