STO members shine in fall STOcase: “Songs of the Rainbow”


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The Northwestern State University of Louisiana Student Theatre Organization presented “STOcase: Songs of the Rainbow” as their fall production.

The Northwestern State University of Louisiana Student Theatre Organization presented “STOcase: Songs of the Rainbow” as their fall production. STO was created to offer student actors, technicians, and creatives on NSU’s campus more opportunities to hone their craft and explore their passion for theater and the arts.

“STOcase” did exactly what it said on the tin, in that it provided an opportunity for twelve talented STO members to work together as an ensemble and showcase one another as parts of the whole. The production was also unique in that it didn’t have one director throughout, but multiple directors that serve on STO’s executive board.

The “STOcase” ensemble was composed of the following performers: Kwincy Pierre, Preston Rasco, Tyler Sibley, Cole Becton, Caleb Barton, William Kielwasser, Phoenix Woods, Gabrielle Marino, Mia Rodriguez, Aryn Spikes, Morgan Heinzen and Ashley Stevens. With a mix of new and familiar faces, the STOcase ensemble brought a vibrant energy to each number.

The show opened with “On My Way” from Jeanine Tesori’s musical “Violet,” directed by Tori Hickman, a senior musical theater major and Vice-President of STO. Max Hebert served as music director, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how masterful his work was throughout the production.

Hebert’s magic was especially apparent in the opening number, with the way each ensemble member’s voice blended during the chorus parts and fabulous harmonies. STO veterans Ashley Stevens, a junior theater major, and Phoenix Woods, a sophomore theater major, shone throughout their featured roles in the opening.

Some performances that stood out to me included the ladies’ ensemble’s performance of “Ex-Wives” from the hit musical “Six” and the men’s ensemble’s performance of “Greased Lightning” from “Grease.” Watching those talented students perform was nothing short of joyful.

Another favorite performance of mine was the version of “S’Wonderful” featuring Gabrielle Marino as the girl the three male characters are in love with. Marino is absolutely captivating to watch as a dancer, and I cannot wait to see what she accomplishes during the rest of her time at NSU.

In the number “Shine Like the Sun,” from “9 to 5,” Cole Becton delivered a wonderful comedic performance as Franklin Hart, the abusive boss who gets a (rather hilarious) taste of his own medicine in the number.

An honorable mention goes to Aryn Spikes, a senior child and family studies major. She is making her stage debut in this production, but you wouldn’t know it when she opened her mouth to sing. Her performance of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” from “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” was an excellent choice for her, and she conveyed the emotions and pathos needed in the song so beautifully.

Although there wasn’t a fancy multi-level set or any of the bells and whistles normally present in a mainstage production, the designers allowed the audience more opportunities to use their imaginations to fill in the blanks.

Another strong design choice was during the closing number, “Song of Purple Summer” from “Spring Awakening.” The actors wore all-white clothing as their final costume, and during the last few measures of the number, the actors produced origami cranes from parts of their costumes as paper butterflies descended from the catwalk.

No production review is complete without a shout-out to the production staff and crew. Under stage manager Cortelina Encalada, transition times were quick and efficient and the show went off without any technical difficulties.

“STOcase: Songs of the Rainbow” was a jubilant and joyous night of entertainment, and an excellent showcase for the emerging performers and technicians that STO serves to nurture.