‘Doña Rosita’ hits the stage

Lauren Ganger, Staff writer

On April 12-14 at 7:30 p.m. and April 15 at 2 p.m., the Mercyhurst Theatre Program will present “Doña Rosita the Spinster,” a play by Federico García Lorca that was translated from its original Spanish by Nilo Cruz.
The play follows the vivacious titular character, Rosita, as she awaits her fiance for two decades and slowly loses hope of his return.
Director Brett Johnson, Ph.D., said, “‘Doña Rosita’ is a heartbreaking meditation on the destructive power of time and a tribute to the dignity of the human spirit.
“The play is highly poetic and features some of the most beautiful language in all of Lorca’s theater. But it’s also terribly funny, awash in the playwright’s characteristic humor.”
Johnson said that his first exposure to Lorca came during his undergraduate studies.
Ever since then, he has been looking for an opportunity to produce one of his plays.
Johnson said that the challenge of directing this play “is to create an intense interior reality for the characters beneath a mundane and unexceptional surface of daily life.”
Jillian Johannes takes on the role of the aunt in the play.
The descriptor for the character is “a woman in her 60s.”
“I’m loving the opportunity to learn the mechanics that really go into developing a character,” said Johannes.
She mentioned how it is up to the cast, director and creative team to spend time with the text, research the given circumstances, and effectively work to understand the stories they are telling.
Johannes said, “Trying to get a sense of why a character says something, or sometimes more interestingly, why she/he doesn’t say something, is an exciting process.”
She praises Lorca’s writing by discussing the broad range of emotions exhibited by the characters in the play.
“That’s one of my favorite things about the play — the almost alarming reality of the characters. They’re rough around the edges, they have values, and they harbor conflicts. We see these characters living their lives, separately and together, weaving a beautiful story that we get to tell — and hopefully you’ll want to watch.”
The supporting cast includes the Nephew (played by Tyler Kirchmeir), who is considered to be the antagonist in that he contributes to the woes throughout the play.
It also includes Señor X, portrayed by Ella Santillano, Don Martin, portrayed by Owen Hitt, and the Uncle, portrayed by Jacob Tretinik.
The First and Second Manolas are played by Rosie Pregler and Tessa Sayre, respectively.
The Mother is portrayed by Ashley Poletto.
Elizabeth Shewan, Alexis Webb and Vivian Suazo play the First, Second and Third Spinsters, respectively.
Justice Alleruzzo and Ben VanHook portray the First Workman and Second Workman.
Finally, Janeida Turbi plays the Young Woman.
In addition, the production team is comprised of Aaron White, scene designer, Madeleine Steineck, lighting designer, Maria Dombrowski, choreographer, Kathryn Schmitt, production stage manager, and Erin Fink and Jenna Rosciszewski, assistant stage managers.
The performances will take place in Taylor Little Theater.
This performance will be unique in that the stage has been reconfigured for a more intimate experience.
The audience will sit in a circle around the stage.
As such, there will only be 100 seats available per performance.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $5 for Mercyhurst students with their IDs.