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Villanova Theatre’s 2024 Debut: Crazy for You

By Rebecca Amrick

Photo courtesy of Villanova Theatre

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see Villanova’s Theatre’s production of Crazy for You. This musical, written by Ken Ludwig, features Bobby Child, a reluctant uptown banker, who dreams of dancing on Broadway–but instead of getting his foot in the door, it seems he’s always stepping on toes. When Bobby is sent to foreclose on a rundown theatre in Nevada, his luck takes an unexpected turn as he falls head-over-heels for the theatre owner’s daughter, Polly Baker. Set in the 1930s and scored with the infectious songs of George and Ira Gershwin, this firecracker of a musical showcases classic tunes like “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, this madcap comedy “makes everything old feel new again” (New York Times).

This show was directed by Villanova University’s President, Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD. Father Donohue served as Villanova’s chair of theatre department from 1992-2006 before he became the University’s 32nd president.

This musical was such a joy to watch. It’s colorful, funny, and full of great characters. This show’s got everything: hilarious wit and physical comedy, multiple love stories, catchy songs, and lots and lots of tap dancing! All the dance numbers were amazing and truly took my breath away. Truly a wonderful show!


To learn more about Crazy for You, check out this virtual playbill which includes a note from the dramaturg as well as information about the playwright and musical composers.

Check out the education guide for more information about this show’s director and dramaturgs as well as some context for the show’s setting.

Rebecca AmrickRebecca Amrick is a first year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.

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Villanova Theatre Presents: Posterity

By Annie Stockmal and Rebecca Amrick

Photo courtesy of Villanova Theatre

Falvey Graduate Assistants Rebecca Amrick and Annie Stockmal had the pleasure of seeing Villanova Theatre’s latest production Posterity, and we left with high praises!

Written by playwright Wendy MacLeod, Posterity follows the stories of three families in (literal) snapshots through time as they live, love, and experience loss. It demonstrates that although the props around us, like our technologies and clothing, might change throughout time, the universal experience of living and losing and “the universal longing to freeze time and cling to those we hold dear” is a tale as old as perhaps time itself (and certainly since the inception of photography).

Here are Annie’s and Rebecca’s unique takes on the play:

Annie: In the post-performance talk-back that I attended on Sunday, Nov. 12, playwright Wendy MacLeod said that the bad elevator pitch for Posterity was, “it’s about photography and death.” While that’s certainly not an inaccurate synopsis of the play, it does not do it justice.

Posterity tackles a lot of difficult, yet all too common and relatable, topics in its 75-minute runtime, including death, suicide, mental health treatment and facilities, the ethics of photography, and love, and it does so with care, poignancy, and even, sometimes, humor. It evokes the sentimentality and nostalgia of looking back at the past while capturing the way our moments often fly by us in the present.

MacLeod mentioned in the talk-back that writing this play was a balancing act of toeing the line between mentally exhausting the audience and moving them. While it is certainly a somber, at times difficult, viewing experience, I believe MacLeod, Director Edward Sobel, and all six of the performers succeeded in moving and not exhausting.

Rebecca: Posterity is an incredibly moving and thought-provoking play that addresses serious themes in a respectful yet light-hearted manner. Inspired by the use of photography to memorialize incidents and people, the play takes commemoration to another level by allowing the audience to see snapshots of people’s lives. The role of commemoration in Posterity depicts how pictures sustain and shape memory.

The play is performed by six actors, so most of them play multiple characters. This dual-role helps establish connections between the three families and provides the audience with a visual representation of how the act of living is the same throughout the course of human history. Life, love, and loss are features inherent to humanity, and these powerful experiences pertain to every human being, no matter the time or place.

To learn more about Posterity and its cast and crew and to hear from the Production Dramaturg, check out this virtual playbill.

To find prompts for discussion or contemplation and content guides and warnings for the production, check out the education guide.

If you want to hear directly from the playwright herself, read our interview with Wendy MacLeod on the blog.

Tickets for Posterity are available for purchase here. Get yours now!

Annie Stockmal is a second-year graduate student in the Communication Department and Graduate Assistant in Falvey Library.





Rebecca AmrickRebecca Amrick is a first year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Posterity Playwright Chats About Her New Villanova Show Opening: Four Fast Questions with Wendy MacLeod

Courtesy of Wendy MacLeod

The fashions change, the time changes, and the things that imperil our children change, but the love remains the same.

-Wendy MacLeod, Playwright, on her play Posterity, the new Villanova Theatre production 

By Shawn Proctor

Villanova Theatre presents Posterity, opening tomorrow, Nov. 9-19, and we were able to sit down with the playwright Wendy MacLeod to discuss her process and experience of bringing this new show to life with Villanova Professor and Director Edward Sobel, MFA.

Show notes: Through interlocking stories spanning centuries – from the Civil War to 9/11 and up to the present moment – three families seek connection, meaning and solace through the modern miracle of photography. As she brings to life intimacies between parents, children, siblings and lovers, award-winning playwright Wendy MacLeod brilliantly conjures the universal longing to freeze time and cling to those we hold dear forever. Performed by graduate acting students at Villanova. Content advisory below.

Courtesy of Villanova Theatre

Why did you choose to stage Posterity at Villanova?

It was because of my relationship with Ed (Sobel). We’ve worked together on at least two projects, and he’s a wonderful director. A wonderful dramaturg. I thought it would be great to workshop the play, taking advantage of his dramaturgical expertise. The facilities are also gorgeous. I had no idea how gorgeous until I arrived for rehearsal!

Tell me about the process of developing the play.

I didn’t do a lot of rewriting during the rehearsal process. Ed had seen a very early reading of the play on Zoom, and we did a little reshaping based on the fluidity of the scenes through time. We reordered some scenes because we wanted to make sure that somebody didn’t have to go offstage in a Civil War costume and immediately come back in contemporary mode.

Ed is such an experienced director and dramaturg of new plays that he knows the way playwrights work. He’s never prescriptive about “you should do this or you should do that.”

Michael Hollinger has been a wonderfully supportive artistic director, and a wonderful team of people are working on the play.

Photography is a big part of Posterity, and so the use of the slide projections are very important. We’re exploring how people use photographs to get through their grief. Are there photographs that violate people’s grief, like the “Falling Man” photo from 9-11, or are they part of history? What photos are a comfort? Do photographs actually steal your memories of the people because you no longer see the memories, only the photographs?

Posterity uses dual roles (*see more about this technique below)–the same actors in different roles in very contrasting time periods. How did that artistic choice help you tell this particular story?

I was interested in exploring the way that families are the same across time. So a mother’s love for her son going off to the Civil War is the same as a mother’s love for her child going off to boarding school, especially when you know the boy ends up having mental health issues that imperil his life.

The fashions change, the time changes, and the things that imperil our children change, but the love remains the same.

Is there anything you feel patrons should know beforehand to best be prepared to experience the performance?

The audience needs to understand that the same actors will be playing different characters, so I hope they aren’t confused by that. Also, in some ways, this is difficult subject matter. Death and suicide are part of this play. It’s dealt with a fairly light touch, so it’s not manipulative.

I hope people will come and be the play’s first audience!

Content advisory: Death, suicide.


* Did you know… you probably know a famous theatre production that uses dual roles? Hamilton, the breakout Broadway hit, featured several dual roles, including Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, John Laurens/Philip Hamilton, and Hercules Mulligan/James Madison!

Did you also know that Falvey has the complete libretto of Hamilton, including production notes and alternative lyrics? Check it out today!


Shawn Proctor Head shot

Shawn Proctor, MFA, is a Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Library.


Villanova Theatre’s 2023 Season Debut: Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea

Photo courtesy of Villanova Theatre

By Annie Stockmal and Rebecca Amrick

On Sept. 24, Graduate Assistants Rebecca Amrick and Annie Stockmal attended a performance of Villanova Theatre’s 2023-2024 season debut, Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea, and we invite you to do the same!

Born largely out of oral storytelling tradition, fairy tales have been reimagined and retold to fit the tastes of audiences of the time. The stories written, or written down by, author Hans Christian Andersen are no exception. His tale “The Little Mermaid,” originally published in the Dutch Eventyr, Fortalte for Børn. Første Samling. or Fairy Tales Told for Children. First Collection., has inspired countless retellings, including a ballet, two Disney movies, and numerous theatrical productions.

Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea, written by Julia Izumi, is one such reimagining of Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” with a few new twists.

Here are Annie and Rebecca’s unique takes on the play:

Annie: Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea is both about reimaginings and a reimagining itself. It explores the how works can get changed and distorted from the original, but that’s not exactly a bad thing.

Rather than separating the art from the artist, Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea demonstrates how the artist is interwoven with their art. The connection between the artist and their art is, at times, thinly veiled and nearly inseparable. When their art is retold by another, another thread is woven in. In other words, Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea can be read as an ode to reimaginings. An old story gets a new ending, or perhaps circles back to the original, and that’s ultimately a beautiful thing. Artists inspire artists. It has a little bit of Hans Christian Andersen, a little bit of playwright Julia Izumi, and a little bit of the breadcrumbs left by others who have retold this classic tale.

Despite wearing masks for the performance, the actors (and, of course, Director James Ijames, Dramaturg Dory Scott, and every other artist who had a hand in this production) were truly able to bring life to this play.

Rebecca: Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea is a fun production that combines reimagining with biography. Beginning as a twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” the play soon breaks traditional storytelling format with multiple fourth-wall breaks and characters acting independently of their creator. Within the chaos of this spiraling story are snippets of Andersen’s own life and struggles. These brief scenes serve to showcase how the writer’s own life influenced his work, a theme made even more clear by direct comparisons between Andersen and “The Little Mermaid.” Overall, a humorous and thoughtful production that honors a past writer and generates excitement for the future of stories and retellings.

To learn more about Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea and its cast and crew, check out this virtual playbill.

To explore fairy tales and Hans Christian Andersen with the Dramaturgs, Emma Drennen and Dory Scott, check out the production’s Dramaturgy website.

In the education guide, you can find prompts to spark up reflection and discussion after the show.

If you want to read “The Little Mermaid” and other Hans Christian Andersen tales, check out Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen, translated by Patricia L. Conroy and Sven H. Rossel, available online through Falvey.

If you want to learn more about the man behind the fairy tales, read Andersen’s autobiography The True Story of my Life, translated by Mary Howitt, available online through Falvey.

Tickets for Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea are available for purchase here. Get yours now!

Annie Stockmal is a second-year graduate student in the Communication Department and Graduate Assistant in Falvey Library.





Rebecca AmrickRebecca Amrick is a first year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Villanova Theatre Professor James Ijames’ Pulitzer Prize Winning Play Nominated for Five Tony Awards

James Ijames portrait by Lowell Thomas.

James Ijames portrait by Lowell Thomas.

Villanova University Theatre Professor James Ijames’ play “Fat Ham” has been nominated for five Tony Awards including:

Ijames was awarded the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for “Fat Ham,” a play that “deftly transposes ‘Hamlet’ to a family barbecue in the American South to grapple with questions of identity, kinship, responsibility, and honesty.” From the “Fat Ham” Broadway website: “Juicy is a queer, Southern college kid, already grappling with some serious questions of identity, when the ghost of his father shows up in their backyard, demanding that Juicy avenge his murder. But here’s the rub! Revenge doesn’t come easy to Juicy, a sensitive and self-aware young Black man in search of his own happiness and liberation. From an uproarious family cookout emerges a compelling examination of love and loss, pain and joy.”

Produced by The Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia, “Fat Ham” premiered as a video stream in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Performed for sold out shows at The Public Theater in New York, NY, last spring, the play is currently showing at The American Airlines Theatre on Broadway. For ticket information, visit the “Fat Ham” website. While the show ends its run in New York, NY, on June 25, 2023, “Fat Ham” will open The Wilma Theatre’s 2023-24 season. Directed by Amina Robinson, “Fat Ham” will run from Nov. 24, 2023, through Dec. 17, 2023.

An Associate Professor of Theatre at Villanova University, Ijames is a playwright, director, performer, and educator. He received a BA in Drama from Morehouse College and a MFA in Acting from Temple University. Explore Ijames’ work and accolades here, and view the additional resources below:

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Library. Tune in to the 76th Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, at 8 p.m. The ceremony is scheduled to air on CBS after striking Writers Union agrees to an altered format








Villanova Theatre Presents its ’23 Season Closer: Sunday in the Park with George

Photo courtesy of Boston Globe

On Friday, Apr. 14, I made my way to the John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts to attend Sunday in the Park with George, the final production in Villanova Theatre’s 2022-2023 season. I entered the show with high hopes and left with high praises.

Certainly a striking way to end the 2023 season, this critically acclaimed musical was created by esteemed musical theater composer, Stephen Sondheim, whose repertoire includes the (in)famous Sweeney Todd, and James Lapine. A powerhouse pair, after Sunday in the Park with George, the duo went on to create Into The Woods, another beloved musical.

Sunday in the Park with George brings French painter Georges Seurat’s paintings, including his famous pointillist painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, to life, with some creative liberties, of course. The musical follows two Georges, one posed to be Georges Seurat himself and the other a modern artist inspired by Seurat, juxtaposed by their counterparts, Dot, Seurat’s mistress and model, and Marie, modern George’s grandmother.

Sunday in the Park with George grapples with legacy and with human connection, with getting swept up in creating something beautiful without stopping to look at the real beauty around us, and Villanova Theatre’s production brought this world of art to life with excellent casting, musical performance, and set design, which transforms the stage into Seurat’s world of dots, light, and color.

The performers in Villanova’s production were lively and engaging with stellar vocal performances. Ryan Skerchak (as George) gave a frustratingly accurate portrayal of a preoccupied artist wrapped up in his own world, and Taylor Molt (as Dot/Marie) gave an endearing and compelling portrayal of falling in love with someone who refuses to be swept away with it (and an absolutely hilarious yet heartwarming portrayal of an old woman). The entirety of the cast truly brought Seurat’s art and Sondheim and Lapine’s vision to life.

For more on Villanova Theatre’s production of Sunday in the Park with George, including the amazing cast and crew, check out the virtual playbill here.

Want to hear from the Dramaturg, Sloan Elle Garner? Check out the production’s Dramaturgy website here for a glimpse into her vision and inspiration, the show’s production and behind-the-scenes content, content information (including a glossary), and more.

If you’re looking for something fun to do on campus this weekend, I would highly recommend seeing Sunday in the Park with George for its closing weekend. If you’re in the mood for a post-show drink (for those of-age) and an interesting discussion with the Sloan Elle Garner, you can attend the Apr. 21 show and stay for the post-show Drinks with the Dramaturg. Tickets are available here.

Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Villanova Theatre’s 2023 Debut: Chrysalis

By Ethan Shea and Annie Stockmal"Chrysalis"

On Feb. 17, Graduate Assistants Ethan Shea and Annie Stockmal attended a performance of Villanova Theatre’s latest production, Chrysalis, and you should do the same!

The tradition of transformation narratives dates back thousands of years, most famously to Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Since then, insects and the chrysalis have been used as transformative metaphors in a diverse array of art, from Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella The Metamorphosis to Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 album To Pimp A ButterflyChrysalis, written by Kathryn Petersen, is a fresh take on the transformation story that will not disappoint.

The production tells the story of Maria Sybilla Merian and her daughter Dorothea. While Maria struggles as a budding scientific mind in a male-dominated field, Dorothea must come to terms with her family’s history and choose a path for her future. With aspirations of discovering something so extraordinary it demonstrates the wonders of God, Maria dreams of standing, as a “lowly woman,” before the Royal Society of London to present her research.

Here are Annie and Ethan’s unique takes on the play:

Annie: This play is a loving ode to the driven mother-rebellious daughter dynamic that is pushed to the edge by the mother’s over-ambition and discipline and the daughter’s desire to break the chain and follow her own path. In aspiring to achieve her goals, Maria inadvertently steamrolls her two daughters, the malcontent Dorothea, who begins to question the strict religious teachings that she feels have caused a rift in her family, and even the pious Johanna, who wants to branch out to non-insect-related work. It is only through a dramatic metamorphosis that Maria’s mistakes are revealed to her.

With compelling dialogue and standout performances from the entire cast, including Sydney Curran, Margo Weishar, Reagan Venturi, Taylor Molt, and Joshua Peters, Chrysalis is therapeutic art.

Ethan: The attention to detail in Chrysalis makes every moment worth your while. All aspects of the production, from set to costume design, enrich Dorothea’s transformative journey. I especially admire how smoothly the production team handles a dramatic change of setting and the script’s ability to convey a relatively complex backstory without being didactic.

At its core, Chrysalis tells the story of a family struggling to overcome their unique differences in a tumultuous and oppressive society. The production does not stray from the heart of its story, which is what makes it such a compelling production.

To learn more about the writing process behind Chrysalis, check out this virtual playbill. Fittingly, this transformation story was transformative even for its writers.

In the education guide for Chrysalis, you can find prompts useful for reflection after attendance. For example, one prompts asks, “What stage of metamorphosis do you think you are experiencing currently? How are you preparing for the next stage?”

Tickets for Chrysalis are available for purchase here. Get yours now!

Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.





Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Villanova Theatre Presents “House of Desires”

By Ethan Shea

"House of Desires"

Last weekend, I attended Villanova Theatre’s production of House of Desires, a play originally written by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz in the seventeenth century. This play is directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright James Ijames and has a runtime of approximately two hours and ten minutes, which includes a fifteen-minute intermission. The performance takes place in the beautiful John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts.

Sor Juana’s dramatic works are relatively new to the English-speaking world because they had not been translated from Spanish until very recently (about thirty years ago). The translation of Sor Juana’s plays into English has created a timely opportunity to recognize the playwright’s wide range of social and literary contributions. As a Mexican icon, symbol of queer pride and strong feminine figure, Sor Juana is especially apt for the current decade.

"Ethan at 'House of Desires'"Villanova’s production of House of Desires is a contemporary adaptation of a timeless story. One revolutionary aspect of the original play is its extended focus on women throughout the story. In House of Desires women have opportunities to speak their minds amidst evidently ridiculous social constraints. Villanova’s contemporary production stays true to the progressive social qualities of the play and uses its parodic tendencies to complicate dated notions of gender with humor.

One of my favorite moments of the production is the hilarious musical performance that takes place in the middle of the show. I also love how the performers engage with their audience, occasionally asking attendees for advice or poking fun at those in the front seats.

To learn more about this production, check out the playbill, which includes a a detailed history of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.

You can buy tickets to upcoming performances here.  Be sure to reserve your seats before the final show on Nov. 20!

Thank you Villanova Theatre for putting on a delightful show and a special thanks to Kim Reilly, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Villanova Theatre, for getting me tickets to this performance!

Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a graduate student in the English Department at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


TBT: Vasey Hall in the Fall

Image of Vasey Hall in the fall of 1993.

Image courtesy of the Villanova University Digital Library.

For this week’s Throwback Thursday (TBT), check out this fall image of Vasey Hall from 1993! The inscription on the side of Vasey Hall reads, “Originally known as the Commerce and Finance Building, this structure was later named for the Augustinian Provincial, Rev. Nicholas J. Vasey, O.S.A., 1918-1926.” Many theater productions were held in Vasey Hall before the new John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts opened in 2020. Villanova Theatre’s newest show, Men On Boats will be running from Sept. 22 through Oct. 2, so be sure to get your tickets for this comedic satire!

Anna Jankowski ’23 CLAS is a senior Communication Major from just outside Baltimore who ​​works as a Communication & Marketing Assistant in Falvey.





Villanova Theatre’s 2022 Season Debut: Men on Boats

On Sunday, Sept. 25, I attended the 2 p.m. showing of Villanova Theatre’s 2022-2023 season opener Men on Boats in the John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts. The show ran for approximately 90 minutes and included a post-performance talk-back with the Director, Kristy Dodson; the Production Dramaturg, Hannah Deprey-Severance; and Melinda Daniels, PhD, a research scientist at the Stroud Water Research Center who specializes in fluvial geomorphology, hydrology, and river ecosystem ecology. The talk-back reflected on both the impressive successes and the devastating impacts of Powell’s expedition and revealed insights on the creative process behind the production.

Men on Boats, written by living playwright Jaclyn Backhaus, is a historical satire of the real-life 1869 Grand Canyon Colorado River expedition of John Wesley Powell and his rag-tag crew. Adapting historical records into a script and portraying an excursion that only included cisgender, heterosexual white men, Backhaus created a satire that could succinctly depict an important historical event to audiences across the country while poking fun at the men who set sail in 1869 (and maybe even more modern figures).

As Dramaturg Hannah Deprey-Severance emphasized in the talk-back, Backhaus’s vision was to find a cast of performers that included everyone but cis-het white men. Villanova’s production stayed true to this vision and featured a diverse cast of talented non-male performers who brought the minimalistic yet beautiful set (created by Stefanie Hansen) to life.

Taylor Molt as Bradley (in particular), Reagan Venturi as John Colton Sumner, Genevieve “Eve” Windbiel as Hawkins, and Sara Buscaglia as Hall provided hilarity to the show and all kept me laughing out loud for the 90-minute duration. The brothers, often mistaken for twins (a joke Victorious fans will appreciate) O.G. Howland, played by Noelle Diane Johnson, and Seneca Howland, played by Abigail Little, portrayed a comedic yet compelling sibling relationship on stage. The tense and complicated friendship depicted by Alison Hyde Pascale as John Wesley Powell and Olivia “Liv” Morgan as William Dunn was grounded and gripping. Old Shady, performed by Crys Clemente, served as the crew’s resident slightly odd lone-wolf, who, of course, always had a song for every situation. Finally, Teya Juarez gave a truly endearing portrayal of Frank Goodman (with a seemingly well-practiced British accent).

A truly worthwhile production, the show runs until Sunday, Oct. 2. Tickets are available here.

More information about Men on Boats:

If you want more information on the performers and creative team who made this production possible, check out the online Playbill.

If you want a brief synopsis of Powell’s expedition and other key context for the show, check out the Educational Guide.

If you are interested in learning more about the play’s content information and advisories, check out the content guide for the play.

If you want to learn more about John Wesley Powell, check out Aton’s biography of Powell available online through Falvey (of course).

Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Library.







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Last Modified: September 28, 2022

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