Theater Comes to WPU

Yulliet Ruiz, News Editor

Drama hit the stages of William Paterson University’s Shea Auditorium with the university’s production of “Beyond Therapy” written by Christopher Durang.

The play, directed by Dr. Elizabeth Stroppel, tells the story of Prudence and Bruce, a severely mismatched couple who found each other through ads in the newspaper. Upon first meeting, the couple do not take to each other. Bruce, played by Zachary Guida, is very sensitive, and Prudence, played by Krissy Mehnick, does not care for it at all.  Both of them do have one thing in common, however: both have psychiatrists who are clearly not qualified for their jobs.

Joe Saulenas plays Stewart Framingham, Prudence’s womanizing psychiatrist and Jennifer Fiore plays Mrs. Charlotte Wallace, Bruce’s wacky, snoopy-loving therapist. Add in Bruce’s male lover, Bob, played by Richard  Hannely and a rebel waiter, played by Jordan Anderson, and it’s a recipe for disaster for this couple.

“I think Joe [Saulenas] and Jen [Fiore] were very good and they brought a lot into their characters,” said Katie Stoerger, a junior who attended the show.

The show’s themes dealt with homophobia, sexism and mental illness all while adding humor to the situation.

The show ran from October 26 to October 29, with a total of five shows being performed at Shea Auditorium. This is a change from the usual performance venue, Hunziker Black Box Theatre. Hunziker Hall is currently being remodeled and is scheduled to open up again in 2019.

The set design for this play was a unique one, with three different settings being on stage at the same time: a living room in an apartment, a fancy restaurant and a psychitraits’ office. Seating for the show was also on the stage, to mimic the proximity that would’ve been felt in the Black Box Theatre.

The actors in this play only had a little more than a month to rehearse, with rehearsals being four times a week.

“Dr. Stroppel had us write biographies for our characters and improvise scenes that weren’t in the play,” said Fiore, explaining how the cast into character.

“I think throwing water into people’s faces every night was definitely the best part of the whole show,” said Mehnick.

“My favorite part was working with Dr. Stroppel,” said Anderson.

After the show, the cast held a talk-back where members of the audience were able to ask the cast questions about the show.

The university’s next production is “Fiction,” starting November 16 at Shea Auditorium. The show will be directed by Professor Jerry Beal.