The first Eldred Theater main stage show of this year is “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” by Paul Zindel, and will run both this weekend and next weekend. The production is directed by Melissa Crum, a guest director from the Cleveland area, and focuses on a dysfunctional family coping with a woeful life.
This dysfunctional family is comprised of a single mother and her two daughters. The mother, Beatrice, has not had her life go as planned, something she takes out on her daughters. The older daughter, Ruth, is a girl neglected by her mother and she is desperate for love and attention. The younger daughter is Tillie, who is creating a project for the science fair despite her mother’s attempts to thwart her.
One of the stage managers for the show is fourth-year theater and Spanish double major Merit Glover, who previously directed “Love and Information” and has been a stage manager for the theater department’s production of “Lobby Hero,” as well as Players’ Theatre Group’s production of “Clover.”
According to Glover, directors for the Theater Department tend to be faculty, so working with a student or guest director is a different experience.
“Working with student directors is wonderful, but it’s always an educational experience full of discovery for everyone on the team,” Glover wrote in an email.
In regards to working on this show with a guest director and a student cast and crew, she felt that the experience level was more varied.
Second-year cast member and fellow theater major Sara Young plays Tillie’s older sister Ruth. Despite her experience playing Melibea in Eldred’s production of “The Illusion” and appearing in Players’ Theater Group’s Neofutursim II, Young did encounter some difficulties in her role.
One of the most challenging parts of her role has been “dealing with the parts of myself I see in her, and allowing those to shine through,” she wrote in an email.
She continued, “It’s hard to let anyone see your vulnerable side, as I’m sure anyone can understand, so broadcasting it on a stage has been a fantastic learning experience.”
Young also said she felt lucky to have an amazing cast and crew to support and guide her safely throughout the process.
But overall, the cast and crew hope that viewers will appreciate the message of the production. As the show has a lot of ugly moments, Glover hopes that “the audience is able to take away some beautiful moments as well, and think about finding the beauty in the ugly.”
Young would like the audience to take away something they need from the show, whether it’s strength, confidence or “even the idea that a little bit of hurt can lead to insurmountable strength and beauty if you continue to push forward no matter what.”
She hopes that the audience can get what they need to “walk out and feel stronger.”
“The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” will resonate with audiences on a deeply emotional level—if they allow themselves to be vulnerable. The show will remind viewers that it is okay and important to feel, even if it’s difficult and uncomfortable.
Dates: Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 6-7 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 1 and 8 at 3pm.
Tickets: $10, $7 for Seniors/Faculty/Staff, and $5 for students.
Location: Eldred Theater