By Heather Fiore
Anatomy of Gray unfolds in the small town of Gray, Ind., where the residents are ambitious and the town is dreary.
Although the play misses the mark on excitement, the actors make up for it with their performances.
Set in the 1800s, Anatomy of Gray focuses on eight residents from Gray and all of their encounters with the surprising new addition to their dull town, Dr. Galen Gray.
The play opens with a funeral for the father of the Muldoons, a family in Gray, who the play focuses on. June Muldoon, played by freshman Alexandra Boyle (Anything Goes), opens the play with a narrative about the residents and the town. Boyle serves as the narrator of the play, throughout which she unveils emotions, events and scene changes.
Shortly after the funeral, Boyle helps with introducing some of the characters while others filter in and introduce themselves. The play represents the time period well because each character has a distinct role in the town.
Almost half way through the play, an unexpected visitor comes blowing into town, literally. When a tornado stirs up, Gray appears and begins to change the lives of each resident, one by one.
For Boyle’s first performance on the Rider mainstage, she looked and fit the part of June. Her youthful appearance physically fit the character of a 15-year-old and her energy accentuated June’s charisma and novelty.
Boyle’s ability to switch from one emotional extreme to another without disturbing the naturalness of June’s character came without hesitation.
Alongside Boyle, junior Brianne Applegate (Bug) played her mother, Rebekah Muldoon. From this performance alone, the audience could easily see Applegate’s acting experience. Her graceful demeanor, along with her strong-willed personality, aided her character. Her distinctive colonial look allowed her to effortlessly portray a mother and woman of the 19th century. Also, since Boyle has such a young face, Applegate’s more mature face made it very believable that she was her mother.
Sophomore Christopher Reed (Cabaret) played Pastor Phineas Wingfield. Reed’s monotonous tone aided his ability to fit the pastor role. However, he put a twist on the standard pastor with his humor and atypical behavior.
Wingfield’s sister, Tiny, is the exact opposite of him. Tiny, played by sophomore Kaitlyn Frotton (Rent), is the most promiscuous girl of the town. Frotton was at ease portraying a hormonal teenage girl; her humorous facial expressions made every action believable. Aside from Tiny’s raging hormones, Frotton also accomplished the character’s undeniable humor since she served as the play’s comic relief. She supplied the most laughs and contributed the majority of singing. As a music theater major, Frotton didn’t have to stray from her comfort zone to satisfy Tiny’s musicality.
Two other residents, Maggie and Homer, also generated a few laughs of their own.
Although not in the spotlight, Maggie, played by senior Rose Lynn (Cabaret), is the owner of a restaurant. Known for her outstanding acting and singing abilities, Lynn added dimension to Maggie’s character. Her spunky attitude and natural humor took Maggie to another level.
Homer, played by junior Nick Anastasia (Rent), is June’s romantic interest. With an undying love for June and an urge to be recognized, Homer fights for June’s attention throughout the entire play.
Anastasia’s role as Homer held a dim candle to his recent lead role as Mark in Rider’s production of Rent. Homer’s character didn’t allow Anastasia’s enthusiastic personality to shine.
During the scene when Gray appears, all eight actors worked together in a unique way, displaying all of their abilities to act as a group. Their characters gathered together to observe Gray’s entrance, shifting and acting off of one another, which made the audience believe that there was actually something floating above.
Gray, played by sophomore David Spadora (Cabaret), dresses and acts very differently from the residents of Gray and has more of an impact than they imagine. Spadora brought Gray alive in more than one way. He introduces a new dialect to the residents, speaking without the accent the others have. But at times, Spadora’s energy became a little too overstated for his character. However, he put an interesting spin on the doctor who is terrified of blood. Spadora embellished Gray’s hypocritical character, duly accenting his fear of blood throughout the play.
Gray also brings another new aspect of life to the town; Gray is a Jew, establishing his grounds in the beginning of the play. When Spadora sang in Hebrew, it seemed very natural. His voice accentuated the right notes and it felt as if he were fluent in Hebrew.
Anatomy of Gray explores more than just the anatomy of one man. The performers captured the lives of the residents and incorporated the story of Gray and how much of a difference he made for the town. Good or bad, Dr. Gray opened the residents’ eyes to things they had never known existed.