AACC theater brings Greek classic to modern times with 'Big Love'

  • From left, Erik Alexis as Nikos, Tim German as Leo, Kelley Bianchi the stage manager, Rashad Ferguson as Giuliano, and Claire Brooks as Lydia during a rehearsal for AACC's "Big Love."
From left, Erik Alexis as Nikos, Tim German as Leo, Kelley Bianchi… (Bud Johnson, Baltimore…)
April 08, 2011|By Mary Johnson, Special to The Sun

A play taking a contemporary spin on an ancient Greek classic is the season's major offering from The Theatre at AACC.

American playwright Charles Mee's "Big Love" adapts the plot of Aeschylus' "The Suppliant Women" — 50 brides who flee arranged marriages with 50 prospective grooms. Here grooms arrive by helicopter at the Italian villa where the brides are already ensconced and have their own ideas for a welcoming party that may include song and dance.

At a rehearsal last week, four Anne Arundel Community College students from the 11-member cast enjoyed rehearsing dance moves with Lynda Fitzgerald, the coordinator of performing arts in dance, who was pleased at their progress. "I've enjoyed every second of working with them," she said.

When asked about the climactic scene featuring the angry brides flinging themselves into frenzied athleticism, Fitzgerald said, "I worked earlier in the semester with a series of falls with repeated movements on the ground for the most part. It's truly a challenge to keep the tenacity of the movement in a repeated sequence, but we're working on it," she said. There are some 'fun' moments in it, and I think that will come across to the audience."

Fitzgerald credited the director with offering valuable insights. "Lars Tatom gave the cast a combat/falling workshop, which was very helpful so the actors don't hurt themselves."

Recently off a six-year stint in the Navy, stage manager Kelley Bianchi said she and several cast members were especially interested in the modern view of a Greek story.

Bianchi explained that AACC's production did not have a cast of 50 brides and 50 grooms but numbered four bridal pairs with the rest of the 11-member cast consisting of Italian villa host Piero, his son, Giuliano, and grandmother Bella.

Early in the play, there is a nude scene. After the brides arrive at this Italian villa, Bianchi noted that "Bride Lydia is the first to enter the house and in exploring around, she finds a gorgeous bathtub and decides after being out at sea she needs to take a bath." Bianchi added that this scene "is tastefully done with a mixture of lighting techniques and scrimlike material."

Actor Erik Alexis, who plays Nikos, said the play is difficult to categorize. "I told my sister to see this show that may be different from anything she might ever have another chance to see."

Tim German, who portrays Leo, revealed his attachment to the show and his pleasure at singing the Rodgers and Hart classic "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered."

After rehearsal, Tatom summed up his reason for choosing this show: "We felt it was time for a worthwhile, contemporary piece, one that would bring about some interesting dialogue, both for our students … and for the audiences. This show satisfied that — it has won awards all over the country, been a staple of regional theaters, and is not easy to label. Also we felt strongly that we wanted to do a piece that focused on women, and gave our strong actresses a challenge. This definitely does that."

If you go

"Big Love"

Friday-Sunday, April 15-24; Sunday performances at 2 p.m., all others at 8 p.m.

Pascal Center for Performing Arts, AACC Arnold campus, 101 College Parkway

Tickets: $15 general admission; $12 senior citizens, AACC employees, groups and students; $5 students with valid AACC student ID

Information and tickets: 410-777-2457 or boxoffice@aacc.edu

Note: No one under the age of 16 will be admitted due to adult language and situations.

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