STO’s “Firebringer” brings the heat


Stephani Bradley

The musical Firebringer appears to be one of innovation and positivity. It brings the audience along for a journey through the eyes of an open-minded main character.

The Northwestern State University of Louisiana Student Theatre Organization presented their production of “Firebringer” on Jan. 13 and 14 in Theatre West. The story follows a matriarchal tribe of cavewomen led by Jemila, portrayed by Josie Oliva. The tribe is relatively set in its ways, but there is still room for progress. However, the hunger for progress eventually becomes the tribe’s undoing.

“Firebringer” also marks a historic moment for STO and NSU: the first time a Starkid production has been performed in full on NSU’s stage. With such illustrious members as Darren Criss, of Glee fame, and side-splittingly funny productions, it is no surprise that Starkid has gained respect among the theater kids of Generation Z.

Kaylon Willoughby, a senior performance and directing major, masterfully directed the production and did an excellent job of balancing the humorous moments in the show with getting the rest of the story across. In a statement in the program, she noted that she chose to direct the production because of its “message of balance, personal accountability and environmental responsibility.”

Willoughby selected a strong pool of talent, including newcomer Morgan Heinzen as Zazzalil, trusted second in command to Jemila, and Darreiana, D.J, Joyner as Molag, the grandparent of the tribe and all-around wise woman, among others. One of the many purposes of STO is to provide opportunities for students to dip their toes into the theatrical waters. To this end, nine students made their debuts on the hallowed stages of NSU.

Joy Davis and Austin Anderson, both of whom recently appeared in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” brought a certain level of naivety and passion to the roles of Emberly and Grunt. Their Sondheim-esque duet, “Paint Me,” was excellent and their chemistry was evident throughout. Julia Kuchler displayed fabulous comic timing as Schwoopsie, the tribe’s resident comedian.

Damari Padilla portrayed the Ducker, a self-important priest of the Almighty Duck. His role and the plotline involving the Almighty Duck is a deft satire of organized religion and the issues that can come with it.

Max Hebert did his job quite well for his debut as a music director. He made sure each harmony and note was solid and helped to bring out the nuances in each song. The design team as a whole did the best with the limited financial resources they had. Honorable mentions go to Olivia Hancock and Maxwell Martello for the work they did in bringing the jungle and the tribe of cave-folks to life.

Although the script’s toilet humor and copious usage of the f-bomb are not for everyone, “Firebringer” is side-splittingly funny. The script as a whole balances humor with messages on climate change, organized religion and respecting other people’s differences.