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UI theatre presents ‘WASP’

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | DECEMBER 09, 2010 7:10 AM

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If you enjoy the sly humor of actor Steve Martin, then “WASP” is a great way to get inside his head.

The cast members believe the play is the perfect way to take a break from finals and “piss your pants laughing.”

“This play is hilarious, and it makes you feel like you can really understand Steve Martin better,” said University of Iowa senior Maggie Jones.

“WASP” will open at 8 p.m. today in the Theatre Building’s Theatre B. Performances continue through Saturday. Admission is free for students with valid UI IDs, $5 for the general public.

WASP is a comedic look at 1950s suburban family members trying to understand their purpose in the world.

“I like to call it a scalding satire on the traditional family-values system,” said director Nathan Halvorson. “It’s an interesting marriage of the two things.”

Halvorson is working toward an M.F.A. in directing at the UI; for 13 years, he directed and choreographed in New York City. He came to the UI because he wants to run an established theater.

“There are other things I wanted out of life, and my priorities have changed,” he said.

The director appears to be very close with his cast of six and, like the play itself, they are a hilarious group of people.

Whether they are continually cracking jokes or giving each other a hard time, the actors seem to be good friends who are funny, crazy, and real — which is how Jones describes the play.

She plays the mother, a “typical” 1950s housewife who is sad, somewhat distant from her family, and searching for the ideal life. As she strives to be the perfect mother, she talks to the Female Voice (another character in the play), from whom she gets advice and assurance.

“I love having the ability to portray a truthful character onstage and to inspire people to do the same through any art form they love,” Jones said.

UI sophomore Lily Henderson plays the daughter, otherwise known as Sis. She wants to be acknowledged in her home, but no one pays attention to her, so she goes off into her own world, where she has a very active imagination.

“WASP” is very outrageous and extreme,” said Henderson, a former Daily Iowan employee. “So far, it has been a lovely and interesting experience.”

Auditions for the parts occurred the first weekend of the semester, and both Henderson and Jones agreed that callbacks were the best part of the experience.

The actors went into rooms and read the specific character they were called back for. Jones said she enjoyed that she got to “play” and the director explored if she was willing go the distance with the part.

Neither Jones nor Henderson had previously experienced Halvorson as a director, and they have nothing but good things to say about the experience.

“[Halvorson] has a great way of communicating with all different personalities,” Jones said.

Halvorson believes the cast is exactly in the right place.

“The best thing about the cast members is how hard they work their tails off,” he said. “It’s exciting when everyone in the room is working toward a common goal.”


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