By Dalton Karwacki and Rachel Stengel
The director of Rider’s production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot was forced to find two understudies a week before its opening tomorrow when two cast members left the university after allegedly stealing hundreds of dollars from Alpha Psi Omega (APO), the theater fraternity on campus.
In January, an e-mail was sent out to the members of APO, informing them that more than $900 was stolen from the organization.
“We, the 2010-2011 Alpha Psi Omega Board, regret to inform you of a distasteful event and its effect on our organization,” the e-mail read. “Some time during the week between SNL and formal, upwards of $900 dollars was stolen from the APO money box.”
Members of APO and Miriam Mills, assistant professor of Fine Arts and the director of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, declined to comment directly on the incident or name the two students responsible. However, the Registrar’s office confirmed that the two students are no longer enrolled at the university.
The e-mail sent by APO in January stated that all members of APO would be required to contribute money to help make up the stolen funds. It said that the rest would be recouped through additional fundraisers throughout the semester.
“The board is asking that to make up the bulk of the lost money, every member owes $10 to keep their status in the organization,” the e-mail said. “This may seem unfair and be rash, but this is what it means to be part of an organization.”
APO originally extended an offer for whoever was responsible to return the money without facing repercussions. According to a second e-mail sent out by the organization a few weeks later, APO never had to resort to this.
“Our offer for the money under the door is no longer an option for a reprieve,” it said. “As explained in the meeting, the offer was contingent upon the amount of information we could not predict we would or would not receive in the following two weeks.”
Dean of Students Anthony Campbell confirmed that the money had been returned.
“From what I know the money was the proceeds from Saturday Night Live with Alpha Psi,” he said. “The individuals have been identified, the money has been recovered and returned to the organization.”
A source close to APO lamented the fact this incident came at a cost to all 97 APO members.
“People break the law; they get yelled at,” the source said. “It’s a shame that those involved broke the trust of their closest friends, but that has to do with maturity, which will happen by growing up. Hopefully this helps them to do so.”
The departure of two cast members so close to the opening of the show left those in charge scrambling. There were no understudies for the vacated roles of Yusef El-Fayoumy and Caiaphas the Elder, according to Mills.
“We did not cast understudies for the show because I have never had to use an understudy for a show in my 20 years at Rider; this is a first,” she said. “About a week ago, we needed to cast two understudies for smaller character parts and give them leads. It has been an incredibly difficult time for them and for the entire cast but they have really come through.”
Mills also noted that in many regional and Broadway theaters, understudies are cast, but not in all. Typically, understudies will have longer to prepare for a show. Assistant stage manager sophomore Alex Boyle described the duties of a standard understudy.
“Throughout the rehearsal process, the understudy will study the lines and blocking of the part they are covering. In the event that the original actor playing the role he or she can’t perform, the understudy will take over,” she said.
The role of Yusef El-Fayoumy will be played by freshman Greg Clark. Sophomore Tom Garvin will perform the role of Caiaphas the Elder. Clark’s original role of Butch Honeywell will be played by junior Chris Bober.
See p. 6 for a review of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.