NMSU-A Theatre on the Hill presents “The Curious Savage”

NMSU-A Web Developer | November 6, 2013

NMSU-A Theatre on the Hill presents “The Curious Savage”

by Carolyn Dittmer


Don’t let the title, “The Curious Savage” throw you. Ethel P. Savage is quite civilized, but Joylyn Mercouris, who plays the part of Mrs. Savage in the upcoming Theatre on the Hill comedy production, describes her character as a “curiosity”.

“Does she belong at the Cloisters? Are the quirks she exhibits enough to keep her institutionalized, or is she merely following her own path?” questioned Mercouris. “To my way of thinking, she is her own person with specific ideas of what she wants to do with her life and does not care if those ideas meet with general approval.”

When the curtain rises, Mrs. Savage has lost the battle of being institutionalized at the Cloisters, but remains engaged in the war with her greedy stepchildren over her late husband’s fortune.

It is not surprising that the actors playing the stepchildren dislike their characters, but enjoy the roles.

“The senator is a self-centered, pompous ass. He feels a twinge of guilt for what he and his siblings are doing, but manages to suppress it with little effort,” commented Rod Barnes, who plays Senator Titus Savage. “He’s a fun character to play, but not someone I’d like to emulate.”

Monica Helms, enjoys playing the “over the top” Lilly Belle.

“She is self centered, self gratifying, narcissistic and greedy–a lot of not so charming characteristics and she’s been that way forever.  She’s been married 6 times and I would make the assumption most of those were for money and not for love,” said Helms.

The third Savage stepchild is a newcomer to the Theatre on the Hill stage, but expressed delight at the camaraderie of the cast.  Perry Lawson plays Judge Samuel Savage who, he said “seems the most caring of the Savage children”.

In contrast, the audience will be hard pressed to decide which of the “guests” of the Cloisters is the most endearing.

Florence (Elaina Orwoll), Hannibal (Zackery Miller), Fairy May (Victoria Kennedy), Jeffrey (Jesh Barker) and Mrs. Paddy (Ann Bagby) are whimsical, goodhearted characters each with issues that have brought them to the Cloisters.

“I love Florence. She is so sweet and I love the fact that she is incredibly motherly,” said Orwoll. “I really love to bring that out in her by having her constantly hugging people, straightening things up and just being what a mother would be.”

“Fairy May comes up with the silliest things and the most ridiculous lies, but truly believes them. To convey all that to the stage is really fun for me,” said Kennedy.
Barker, who is active duty Air Force, speaks compassionately about his role as Jeffrey, sole survivor of a plane crash during WWII.  Jeff believes he has physical scars, but his wounds are emotional and include him blocking the fact that the woman who looks after him at the Cloisters, Miss Wilhelmina, is also his wife.

“He’s a nice guy. I would be friends with Jeff,” said Barker. “It’s kind of funny that I got cast as the crazy Air Force person which is not that far off of what I am anyway!”

To round out the ensemble, Dr. Emmett played by Michael Kennedy Carrillo and Miss Wilhelmina, (Miss Willie, for short) played by Heather Bash are the staff of the Cloisters.

“I love being in charge. …I am very receptive to others opinions and I am also kind in nature, (from what I hear),” said Carrillo.  “I believe that’s why Professor Breding cast me as the Doctor.”

About the script, Bash commented, “I had never heard of ‘The Curious Savage’ before I was invited to audition, so, as any good researcher would do, I googled it! Although it is not a children’s show (they may get bored), it is funny, heartwarming and appropriate for all ages.”

“Will Bartlett and his set construction crew have given us a beautiful set for the Cloisters and all of the actors are working together so well, bringing such talent and enthusiasm to their roles,” said Director, Connie Breding. “This is such a lovely ensemble script with a great message. We are concentrating on bringing the characterizations out with all of the cast members thinking about their roles.”

You will not want to miss how the clever Mrs. Savage outsmarts her stepchildren with the help of her delightfully eccentric friends at the Cloisters!  See the show!

NMSU-A Theatre on the Hill’s production of “The Curious Savage” by John Patrick will be presented November 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 7:30 pm and November 17 at 2:00 pm at the Rohovec Theatre on the NMSU-A campus.  Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children.  NMSU-A students may purchase up to 2 tickets for $2 each with student ID at the box office.  Box office opens one half hour before each performance.  Advance tickets are available at The Blue Stone and TLC Portraits. For more information call 439-3670.

Note:  Carolyn Dittmer is a local free-lance writer who is currently enrolled in THTR 101G at NMSU-A.

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