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The Boys Next Door opens April 30

The Berea College Theatre Laboratory concludes the 2003-2004 season with Tom Griffin’s production The Boys Next Door. The production opens April 30 in the McGaw Theatre. Tickets can be reserved by calling the box office at 985-3300.

The Boys Next Door is a poignant and heartwarming comedy about four mentally handicapped men living in a group home. The men are supervised by Jack, an increasingly overworked social worker, who is struggling between earnestly caring for these men and living an ordinary life. This play calls us to question our own definition of what “normal” means.

Previous productions of the play have garnered a good deal of praise from critics. Backstage proclaims The Boys Next Door as “one of the most unusual… and one of the most rewarding plays in town.” The New York Daily News states, “Griffin’s play hits squarely on the truth of life with its constant interplays and shadings of triumphs and tears.” The New York Times recommends that the production “moves the audience to an awareness of how many things in everyday life we take for granted…”

“I’ve liked this script for quite some time,” says senior Jonas Friddle, the production’s director. “These characters are endearing and charming, and are drawn all too human. Their exploits, dreams and realities have so much to teach us.”

The production is the product of the Senior Theatre Project, the capstone course for all theatre majors at Berea College. The seniors are selected to direct, design, research, manage and produce a production that is presented as part of the Theatre’s main season. They spend the fall semester reading and discussing a single broad topic; his year’s topic was, “What is Funny? Exploration of the Nature of Comedy.” They also conduct research and write an extensive paper that is presented and defended to the faculty and staff. In addition, the students make presentations to the class and faculty on their interpretations of the play as it pertains to their individual production assignments. During the spring semester, the students cast, rehearse, design, manage and produce the production.

“The Senior Theatre Project is a unique element of our program,” says Deborah Martin, professor of the course and faculty advisor for the production. “We want our students to have a wide range of experience in the production of theatre so that they become better practitioners. The opportunity to direct, design, manage and research on the mainstage is a rare opportunity. We are confident that this experience makes our students very competitive in the profession and when applying for graduate programs.”

There were five seniors in this year’s class, so the production received help from additional students. The production team for The Boys Next Door is: Jonas Friddle (director); Stephen Drabicki (scenic designer); Clay Goodpasture (lighting designer); Anna-Jeannine Kemper (costume and make-up designer); Dina Haines (sound designer); Mark Cashwell (props designer); Nathaniel Green (dramaturg); and Katie Davis (Stage Manager).

Performances for The Boys Next Door are April 30, May 1, and May 5-8 at 8 p.m. in the McGaw Theatre. Tickets range in price from $5 to $10 and can be reserved by calling the Theatre Box Office at (859) 985-3300 Monday through Friday 1 – 5 p.m. Group tickets are also available. Berea College students are admitted free of charge, but must have a ticket. Students must reserve their tickets in person.

Note: This play contains adult subject matter and is not recommended for very young children.

This article was written by Deborah Martin, director of theatre.

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