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Wilcox Students Challenge Themselves at Auditions

While most students are just starting to get into the swing of the school year, the Wilcox Stage Company is already thinking about its fall drama. Most actors are slipping into familiar on-stage roles, but some are stepping out of their comfort zones and finding new ways to challenge themselves.

Wilcox sophomore Maya Raman is one of those actors. Having performed with Roberta Jones Junior Theater and in previous Wilcox Stage Company (WSC) productions, Raman decided she wanted a new role: the director of WSC’s fall drama, Almost, Maine—a series of nine short plays that explore love and loss a mythical town.

“I’ve been acting for almost nine years now,” she said, “and directing is something I’ve always wanted to do.” Part of her job entails helping advisor Claire Robson cast students in their roles and challenging them to be better actors, which is exactly when she did when WSC held auditions on Sept. 5-6 and callbacks on Sept. 7.

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“I’m looking for chemistry between the actors, energy, blocking and how they do on their own with little direction from me,” she said.

Sophomore Jessica O’Gorman was also interested in challenging herself and hoped to land the role of Glory.

“Her husband just died and she’s looking at the Northern Lights because she thinks that her ex-husband is in them,” she said. “So, she’s just camping out in someone’s backyard and they fall in love … She’s really confident and she talks really fast. She’s awkward, in a way, and I’ve never played an awkward character before. It’s something I wanted to do to challenge myself.”

Olivia Gonzales also had characters in mind she wanted to play: Gayle, Sandrine and Marvalyn. “I think they’re all very determined women,” said the sophomore. “They know what they want and they’re all very solid characters. They’re well-defined within the script.”

Gonzalez said she prepared by watching videos of the production and felt confident and familiar with the play, however, she said she still gets nervous when auditioning. “I’m never nervous on opening night,” she said, “but auditions are different because it’s one person who you probably know well versus a lot of people who you don’t know. That’s a lot scarier for me.”

Auditioning for her second Wilcox production was sophomore Emily Janusz, who was particularly interested in playing one of three characters: Gayle, Marci or Ginette. “I think they’re all really unique,” she said. “Marci is breaking up with her husband in this scene … I think it’s a good part. It’s really dramatic so it helps you get out of your bubble and gets you better experience in acting.”

Janusz was ecstatic to get a callback, but said she will be juggling any role she received with her participation in the play’s light design student team.

Standout actor, senior Jon Moorwood, said was excited to be part of a play about Maine, his mother’s home state, and is looking forward to giving input on set pieces as well as using a Northeastern accent when appropriate for a role. He, too, had specific roles he wanted: Pete, Dave and East.

“I really like Pete because he reminds me of myself—very unknowing to the world of having a relationship and kind of awkward in any situation and I can relate to that because that’s how I am sometimes,” he said, adding that acting has helped make him a more confident person.

“Another one I can really understand is East, because if anybody showed up in my yard late at night I would be pretty confused as well. Those are two of the ones that I like the most,” he said before amending his answer to include Dave because of the emotion he would be able to convey throughout the scene.

While only a couple of actors received the parts they wanted, O’Gorman, Gonzales, Janusz and Moorwood were all cast in at least one role.

The Almost, Maine cast list is as follows:
Prologue/Interlogue/Epilogue: Junior Jarryd Castro as Pete and senior Zoey Martin as Ginette
Scene 1 – Here Heart: Moorwood as East and Gonzalez as Glory
Scene 2 – Sad and Glad: Moorwood as Jimmy, freshman Alexa Russo as Sandrine and senior Lucas Staples as the water
Scene 3 – This Hurts: O’Gorman as Marvalyn and sophomore Syl Cole as Steve
Scene 4 – Getting it Back: Moorwood as Lendall and senior Monica Janusz as Gayle
Scene 5 – They Fell: Castro as Randy and Cole as Chad
Scene 6 – Where it Went: Moorwood as Phil and Emily Janusz as Marci
Scene 7 – Story of Hope: Cole as Daniel and O’Gorman as Hope
Scene 8 – Gonzales as Rhonda and Moorwood as Dave

Almost, Maine will run Nov. 16-18 at the Mission City Center for Performing Arts, 3250 Monroe St. in Santa Clara. Visit wilcoxtheater.wixsite.com/wilcoxstagecompany for more information.

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