Suffolk Spotlight Series comes “ALIVE” in latest installment

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The latest installment of the Suffolk University Theatre Department’s Spotlight Series opened its doors for a one-night-only nightclub experience this past Friday. ALIVE 2017 is written and directed by senior theatre major Jake Mariño. ALIVE had a fantastic, energized cast of theatre majors: sophomore Ma’chel Martin, sophomore Justin Peavey, sophomore Alice Byrne, sophomore Courtney Bouchard, senior Jack Aschenbach, sophomore Stephanie Coyle, sophomore Micaleen “Micky” Rodgers and senior Keynessa Nazaire. A stellar tech crew consisting of senior theatre major Cheyenne Davis, sophomore theatre major Amanda Hackney and Suffolk alum Lucas Fersan ran the successful hour-long synchronized circus. The show centered around rival dance groups trying to occupy the same night club in the same night. Despite many conflicts, they ended up sharing the space after realizing that music brought them together.

The show featured a comical number of strobe lights, glow sticks, colorful lights, and wild costumes. After the performance, Marino told The Suffolk Journal how surreal it was seeing his dream come to life.

“I just adore TRON and club-like atmospheres,” he said. “I really wanted to create a story through music.”

The audience was able to interact freely with the entire space, with two stage-managing bouncers played by junior theatre major Julia Breg and featured Emerson senior Madison Garland showing everyone where to go. It allowed an environment of controlled chaos to emerge. Between the whistles wailing and the lights oscillating, it was hard to imagine sitting for even a moment.

 

In using such a dynamic experience, the actors kept the audience fully engaged at all times. Often, crowd movements would be worked into the show. During tense scenes of struggle in the center of the space, actors would pull audience members into a whirlpool motion to simulate the “spinning feeling” that a character might experience at a dance club. Another interesting piece was the use of glow sticks, colorful styrofoam swords, and gloves as environmental plot points. The costumes were especially iconic, with Bouchard’s character sporting a platinum blonde wig and a white club dress while Martin’s character wore a retro white suit. Every character had some form of light attached to their costume in an individual design; many characters had identifying costume pieces that could be seen in varying levels of light.

Mariño’s vision for the show was initially entirely different from what ALIVE turned out to be.

“I didn’t initially have this in mind. I submitted a different play for a showcase [a type of show assignment with more resources and performances] but ended up getting this spotlight slot,” he explained. While he initially planned to use alternative rock artist Daft Punk’s Alive 1997 as the soundtrack, Mariño ended up using songs from several different artists. Despite his initial hesitation, he thought instead to utilize his past experience in mixing music and decided to compose his own original set list. His resulting setlist consisted of Caravan Palace, Disclosure, deadmau5, Justice, and Daft Punk. The environment was structured perfectly to be filled with a confident cast – and that is exactly what happened. In preparation for this project, the entire cast & crew went to THE DONKEY SHOW at the American Repertory Theatre and worked on characterizations large enough to rival the over-the-top atmospherics. In ALIVE’s final success of the evening, all of the charitable donations collected at the event went to benefit victims of the recent Las Vegas Mass Shooting.

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