When Lucia Proctor-Bonbright (’14) stepped on stage as the character, Ondine, if the audience had not already become completely silent, they were now. Proctor-Bonbright commanded the stage as soon as she entered, and we, the audience, were immediately enthralled by the candid and carefree character that she played.
Ondine is a water-nymph, “a child of the lake,” a girl not of the mortal world. Her parents, Eugenie and Auguste, are poor fishermen who live by the lake and who raised Ondine after their own child was lost. Reed Campbell (’14) played the endearing and self-consumed knight, who appears at her house one night. Ondine immediately falls in love with the knight and is determined to marry him. She is then thrown into the human world, forced to cope with petty problems and deception not found in her own world of water.
Following her throughout the play is “The Old One”, her mentor from the depths of the sea, played by Paul Ryan (‘14). He did a commendable job portraying the cold and ominous character, yet he brought his own flair as well. His voice is cold and soft, yet the audience hangs on to his every word. Ryan’s expressive nature does well with this part, as it is crucial that this character stands out and feels ominous and removed. Ryan has taken this character under his wing and has fully embodied “The Old One,” but has also put his own interpretation on it, making the character uniquely his own.
In addition to Ryan, Proctor-Bonbright, Peter Skow (’14) and Colin Sears (’14) were also cast perfectly for his or her own roles. They all brought his or her own interpretation of the character, yet still kept the character’s true voice intact. Peter Skow (’14), characteristically comical, played the Lord Chamberlain, who has to plan Ondine’s introduction to the Knight’s royal court. In his interactions with Sears’ character, the Superintendent who is assisting in planning this event, brought forth his own humor making their relationship exponentially funnier for the audience. It was evident that Sears was having fun playing his role, which made his part even more convincing and authentic. Proctor-Bonbright also played a convincing Ondine, as she exuded just the right amout of innocence and allure to suit the young and eager girl she played.
Acknowledged by Performing Arts Department Head Buck Herron after the play, Ondine is a very difficult play to produce due to its challenging language and complex plot. Ondine is a 1938 play written by a Frenchman known as Jean Giraudoux, and is widely considered one of the best work of Giraudoux. If that doesn’t speak for its difficulty and complexness, then I don’t know what does. The cast all rose to the challenge, and the acting completely matched such difficulty. More often than not, teenagers that play older, more mature characters can appear silly and immature. I could see no such discrepancy in this production, as all the actors rose to the challenge of a more demanding and difficult play. In this sense, this group of actors truly live up to their label as “Advanced Actors.”
This play stands out as a completely “student-run” production. The music was written by Nick Milazzo (’14) and Maddie Briggs (’14) and the lights and special effects were run by Rami Kablawi (’16), Emily Lovett (’15), and Claire Daly (’15). Even with all the student workers, in no way did the production seem scrappy and amateur. The end result was absolutely seamless, and I commend everyone who could make it happen. An example of praise-worthy student work, is the special effects put on in the opening scenes. In the first few scenes, we see slants of wood behind the actors with a moving projection of fish. This did not distract from the actual scene, but made it even more realistic and stepped up the level of the play from amateur to close to professional. The set design was also cleverly done: It allowed for both underwater and above water scenes while still uniting the play with its prevailing underwater theme.
This talented group of upperclassmen pulled off this difficult production with amazing competency. They brought the play alive with love and heartbreak, with loneliness and yearning. The only aspect of the production that was unreal were Proctor-Bonbright’s hair extensions.