Ain’t no frog here

By Gabrielle Gaston

After recently revisiting “The Little Mermaid,” a childhood favorite, overflowing with mer-magic and true love, one might come to a startling conclusion: Life as a college student is sorely lacking the sense of hope and wonderment it once held.

So, for those looking to reconnect with a more sardonic story of true love, mistaken identities and a fair amount of magic, look no further than “Prelude to a Kiss,” “a modern fairytale turned on its head, where nothing is clear cut,” said Stephanie Stoker, a freshman in the Actor Training Program who plays Rita in the play.

The U theater department’s newest Studio 115 production is a first for director Cort Brinkerhoff. Brinkerhoff said he chose “Prelude to a Kiss” because of its contemporary feel. This balance between smooth, quick-paced dialogue and a supernaturally driven storyline helps the show stand out from past productions by the theater department.

“It has a real cinematic feel,” said Brinkerhoff. This play is easy to watch, he said, and reminiscent of a romantic comedy.

“Prelude” doesn’t just cater to “Sleepless in Seattle” fans, however. It contains subtext and themes that can force an audience to “look at how they look at others,” said actor Mike Nilsson.

Each actor brought his or her own biases and experiences to this story. Having a broad and open feeling toward the play’s themes allows “Prelude to a Kiss” to avoid sounding preachy to audience members. Brinkerhoff’s direction and the cast’s method of acting leave a great deal of the learning up to the individual person.

Rita is the play’s unexpected damsel in distress who holds what some might feel is a pessimistic outlook. Stephanie Stoker feels, however, that “Rita has a more realistic world view that can be seen as cynical, but it’s not a casual pessimism. Her feelings are never accidental,” she said.

In speaking to the director and actors, it is obvious that, though their ideas about the theme and message of the play may differ, they all feel passionately about “Prelude to Kiss” and have a strong desire to share it with a student audience.

“Every young person should see something that makes them question how they love,” cast member Paul Johnson said.

Ryan Perkins