2017-09-07 / Front Page

LCT opens new season with ‘It Came from Mars’ on Friday, Saturday

By NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com


Rodney Robertson (seated, portraying Quentin Farlowe) gets a stern talking to from Jan Betka’s character Julia Crane during dress rehearsal of Joe Zettelmaier’s It Came From Mars, directed by Sally Eilersen. The comedy will kick off the Lapeer Community Theatre’s 2017-18 season. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese Rodney Robertson (seated, portraying Quentin Farlowe) gets a stern talking to from Jan Betka’s character Julia Crane during dress rehearsal of Joe Zettelmaier’s It Came From Mars, directed by Sally Eilersen. The comedy will kick off the Lapeer Community Theatre’s 2017-18 season. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese LAPEER — The new season of the Lapeer Community Theatre (LCT) is set to begin, with performances of Joseph Zettelmaier’s It Came from Mars, directed by Sally Eilersen, hitting The PIX Theatre stage for 7:30 p.m. shows Sept. 8, 9, 15 and 16.

According to the play’s synopsis, almost 80 years ago, on Oct. 30, 1938, Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre on the Air sent radio listeners into a panic. People believed that Martians had landed in New Jersey! But the Mercury Theatre was not the only radio troupe working that day. Across town, in the rehearsal studio of WHQN radio, a lesser known, possibly less talented group was meeting to rehearse their Halloween production. When the secretary bursts in with the news of the invasion, hilarious panic ensues.

Featuring a six-person cast, the story of It Came from Mars draws inspiration from the public terror that followed Orson Welles’s rendition of War of the Worlds, but cast members point out that many of the themes of the play are still relevant in today’s world of “fake news” and misinformation. “It carries over into today, that’s where humans are, you jump to conclusions,” said William Vanaman, who appears as character George Loomis. “It’s a chance to say that we can’t just react to things, we have to think things out.”

LCT Board Member Sally Eilersen has been guiding her cast and crew since July when auditions for the show were held, and said that the play, and the true-life story of the panic following the radio show in 1938, certainly has parallels today.

“Radio was the primary way to get the news back then, and there was no thought that you can’t trust the news,” she said. The radio show, presented mostly in faux news bulletins, caused terror in the public, though it’s mentioned that the scope of the public’s knee-jerk reaction was also exaggerated by the news outlets of the time, leading to a cycle of misinformation and panic. “It was probably the original ‘fake news’ moment,” said Rodney Robertson, who will appear in the play as Quentin Farlowe.

“It’s a comedy, a drama, it’s historical, a romance, sci-fi, all rolled into one in this play,” said Marie Burchi, appearing in the role of Dolores Breckenridge. “It’s got everything.” Burchi, along with the rest of the cast and crew, have formed a close bond throughout rehearsals that Eilersen said is indicative of community theater — a medium that the LCT works to maintain.

“It’s fun, we all love to get together as a hobby, for the love of it,” said Eliersen. “But we’re losing live theater. Whatever age, people will enjoy this show, and should support the arts.”

It Came from Mars can be seen on Sept. 8, 9, 15 and 16, with a 7:30 p.m. curtain each night. For any LCT shows performed at the PIX Theatre, such as It Came from Mars, tickets can be purchased online at the PIX Box Office or by calling the PIX Theatre at 810-664-4824. Visit the LCT Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LapeerCommunityTheatre for more information on upcoming shows.

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