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November 18, 2021

SVSU theatre production to feature seasoned actors and newcomers

An upcoming Saginaw Valley State University theatre production will showcase students who are new to acting in SVSU productions as well as seasoned performers.

“Animal Farm,” based on the 1945 novella by George Orwell and adapted for the stage by Ian Wooldridge, will run from Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 17-20 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 21 at 3:00 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. An allegory where a group of barnyard animals learn the meaning behind the phrase “Some are more equal than others,” the play is rated E for everyone. In compliance with the university’s COVID-19 policy, masks/face coverings will be required.

The director — Dave Rzeszutek, SVSU professor of theatre — said this production will have a highly theatrical and stylized approach, using both live actors and puppets with voiceover.

“Working with puppets challenges our students to expand on their vocal choices and try new ways use their bodies to communicate physically,” said Rzeszutek.

Scout McCulloch will be playing the Storyteller, a young girl creating the world of the show with her playset and imagination. An elementary education and theatre major from Port Huron, the first-year student became interested in coming to SVSU because of the theatre program.

“I came to see ‘She Kills Monsters’ because a friend of mine was in it. I was absolutely blown away because I had never quite seen a theatre program like that before. Everyone in it was amazingly talented, the set and design elements were breathtaking, everything was just so fun to watch.”

Even though McCulloch had been a part of her high school drama company, she was nervous about auditioning for a college-level show.

“I shared that nervousness with several people in the department and everyone immediately encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and go for it. They were all very supportive and some people even helped me go over my monologue for the audition. So I auditioned, and a couple days later I heard I got the part of the Storyteller!”

Brielle Myles-Williams, a Spanish and theatre major from Marlette, will be shifting from a backstage role to the spotlight as Benjamin, the oldest of all the farm animals. She has been assistant stage manager for three productions: “Roustabout: The Great Circus Trainwreck,” “No. 6” and “A Doll House.”

“My favorite thing about this play is that even though the story is older, it still relates to things that are happening today.”

Holly Houck, an international studies and theatre major from Saginaw, will be playing Napoleon, the main antagonist. This will be her 14th production at SVSU. Her past roles in mainstage productions include Dee Dee/Neo #3 in “Roustabout,” Roz in “9 to 5: The Musical” and Brighella in “The Servant of Two Masters.”

“It is incredibly exciting to have live audiences again, after a hiatus imposed by the COVID pandemic. No one on our team has taken the privilege of storytelling and performing for granted,” said Houck.

For a backstage tour of the set, watch this YouTube video.

Tickets for “Animal Farm” are $15 each and can be purchased either online or at the box office (two hours prior to an event). When tickets are purchased online, a link will be sent to your email to print or present as a mobile ticket.