Saint Louis University Theatre is kicking off their season with Playhouse Creatures by April De Angelis. The play is set in 1669 and follows the lives and careers of five famous English actresses. After 17 years of Puritan suppression theatres have reopened and women are appearing on stage for the first time. These five women – Mary Betterton, Rebecca Marshall, Doll Common, Elizabeth Farley and Nell Gwyn – are revolutionizing restoration theatre by producing a wide variety of plays for lively audiences.
Playhouse Creatures has been in rehearsals for about a month and according to the actresses taking on the main roles it has been a rewarding experience. Kristen Strom, who plays Rebecca Marshall, said she could not be more honored about being cast in the play. “Mrs. Marshall is both elegant and rough. She is a woman ahead of her time. It has been incredible being in a production of all women,” said Strom.
This is Strom’s first main stage appearance, but you would not know it by watching her performance. She has a strength and presence that rivals even the most seasoned on stage. Sarah Griffith plays Doll Common, who acts as a liaison between the audience and the play itself.
Griffith, a gifted comedic actor, immediately captivates theatergoers by using humor to ease them into the unfamiliar style of Playhouse Creatures. She cracks joke after joke, and soon you forget that you’re watching a play set nearly 350 years ago. Griffith has loved being in the play and says, “It’s been a joy to play Doll Common. She’s a woman after my heart! I want to be her when I grow up!”
The quintet cast in Playhouse Creatures is rounded out by Taylor Steward (Mary Betterton), Liz Meinders (Elizabeth Farley) and Sarah Schuette (Nell Gwyn). When asked about her character, Meinders commented, “Mrs. Farley is funny, tragic and a fighter. She makes a big change throughout the play, so it’s been an awesome challenge.” Schuette adds, “[Nell Gwyn] is strong, witty and clever which makes her a truly great character to portray!”
Everyone cast in the SLU Theatre’s kickoff to the season embraces their power and womanhood on stage. Their hard work and determination makes Playhouse Creatures a production you will not want to miss.
Playhouse Creatures opens Oct. 4 at 8p.m. in Xavier Hall Theatre. Other performance dates are Oct. 5, 11, 12 at 8p.m., and Oct. 13 at 2p.m.. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $9 for seniors and faculty/staff and $7 for students. For more information, contact the box office at (314) 977-3327. Also, consider purchasing a season passport, which provides discounted admittance for the season. If ever in doubt, just find a theatre major for more information!