What happens when a young woman is afraid to take her boyfriend home to meet the parents? Audiences will find out in Beau Jest, the season's first Mainstage Theatre production at Regent University, opening on Friday, Sept. 16.
Written and set in 1989, James Sherman's play tells the story of Sarah Goldman and her traditional Jewish family eager to see Sarah settled down and married. The only trouble is, she's afraid to introduce them to her boyfriend because he's not Jewish. Rather than tell the truth, Sarah hires an actor to play the man she introduces to her parents.
"No one writes comedies like this anymore," observed guest director Marianne Savell. "This is a truly funny play with great writing. It has a sharp truth to it that will be very moving to the audience and yet the play doesn't have a mean spirit. It's sweet and it sneaks up on you."
MFA in Acting students Whitney Rappana and Amy Dunlap will perform their thesis roles in Beau Jest as Sarah Goldman and Miriam Goldman respectively.
Returning for a third year as a guest director at Regent, Savell has previously directed Dancing at Lughnasa in 2009 and Our Town in 2010.
Savell credits the theatre faculty and students as the main reason she keeps coming back. "The faculty are fantastic. They are real artists, and they have the skills and passion to pass on their knowledge and experience to the students," she said. "The students are serious and focused."
Similarly, Eric Harrell, chair of the theatre department, is excited that the students can work with Savell. "As an educational theatre, it is important for us to bring working professionals to campus to interact with our students," he explained. "Savell represents the crème of the crop. She has both an impressive resume as a union actor and director, but she also has the heart of an educator. She is a shining example to our students of how one can succeed in a challenging profession while maintaining a positive Christian witness."
Savell is an adjunct professor at Vanguard University, an associate artist with Taproot Theater Company and a member of Directors Lab West. She received her MFA in Acting from the University of Illinois and has been a guest artist at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She served as producing director of Actors Co-op in Hollywood and on the advisory board of Provision Theater Company in Chicago and was invited to the prestigious New Harmony Project to direct Margaret Hunt's new play And the Ravens Feed Us in 2008.