By PAUL MASTRANGELO
To listen to Brent Donahue talk about it, MMCC’s Drama Club is just what the doctor ordered to engage the community and broaden students’ appreciation of the arts and humanities. Donahue is the director of the MMCC Fall Semester production of “The Good Doctor.”
He contends that theatre and drama are relevant to any field of study, whether building trades, physics or the liberal arts. “There’s a way for everyone to be involved,” he contends.
Although new to the college, having moved to central Michigan from Nashville, Tennessee, just over a year ago, Donahue sees great potential in the program and the facilities.
“We could use a new lighting control board, and some of our dimmer packs don’t work, but overall we’ve got a pretty great theatre space here” he says. “We do have an awesome sound board.”
The theatre on the Harrison campus comfortably seats 250. It has been the home of college productions for many years. It is also used as the rehearsal space for productions.
During a production, Donahue is a busy man. He directs the plays, designs and builds the sets, designs sound and lighting for the shows, among other technical and craft functions, and also teaches theatre courses, both on and off campus. He said he’d like to see course offerings expanded to train more students and get other faculty involved.
“There are a lot of courses I’d like to see the college offer,” he says.
He looks forward to a time when MMCC might be able to offer acting classes or technical and craft training. “It would be great to have a student or two trained as a stage manager,” he says.
During a recent rehearsal for the college production of “The Good Doctor” by Neil Simon, Donahue challenged his actors to begin working without their scripts, although it was still early in the rehearsal process. As the actors struggled to meet the challenge, Donahue was quick to encourage and offer advice.
Student actor Quentin Day, of Gladwin, worked through the scene entitled “The Drowning Man” with fellow actors Kurt Laskowsky and Richard Noonan, both of Harrison. Under Donahue’s reassuring eye they rose to their director’s challenge. The actors clearly respect Donahue and look to him for guidance and support.
The play, by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Neil Simon, is a comedy based on a number of short stories by Russian short-story writer and playwright Anton Chekhov. The prolific Simon is best known for his plays, “The Odd Couple,” “The Sunshine Boys” and “Biloxi Blues.” Chekhov, who wrote plays for the famed Moscow Art Theatre under the direction of Konstantin Stanislavski, is known for his plays, “The Seagull” and “The Three Sisters,” among others.
Other members of the cast of “The Good Doctor,” in addition to Day, Laskowsky and Noonan, include student Dakota Hester of Harrison, Katey Potter of Canadian Lakes, and actor and music director Chelsea Antcliff of Gladwin.
The Good Doctor opens on the Harrison campus on Nov. 3. Matinee performances are Nov. 3, 5, 10 and 12 at 2 p.m. with an optional luncheon at noon. Ticket prices are $22 for the luncheon and show or $10 for the show only. Luncheon tickets must be purchased at least 10 days in advance of the performance date. Call (989) 386-6632 or email Yvette Keast at firstname.lastname@example.org for luncheon reservations.
Evening performances are Nov. 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 years and under.
To order tickets using Visa, MasterCard, or Discover, call MMCC’s Bookstore at (989) 386-6640 Monday through Thursday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., and on Fridays between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets will also be on sale at the door.
For more information on the Drama Club or upcoming meeting times, contact Donahue at email@example.com.
(Paul Mastrangelo is a consultant in MMCC’s Writing and Reading Center. He also has a MFA degree in theatre and playwriting and has taught theatre in New York. He currently teaches humanities at Muskegan Community College.)