The Dixie State College fine arts department is starting the year off with laughs in its performance of “Moon Over Buffalo.”
The play, set in 1953, centers around married actors George and Charlotte Hay. The Hays’ lives are falling apart in between marital problems and the waning of their professional careers. George receives news that famous director Frank Capra wants to cast George and Charlotte in his next movie, but the question remains whether George and Charlotte can pull it together before Capra arrives.
Though the play is a comedy, the serious subject matter, which deals with infidelity and heavy alcohol use, could also provide for a heady drama. Director Brent Hanson, associate dean of theater, said the play works because it allows the audience to relate to the characters’ flaws.
“We all sense our own vulnerability, and we all know that we do stupid things sometimes,” he said. “And it’s kind of fun to laugh at people on stage doing that. It’s easier to laugh at them than ourselves, so it’s kind of therapeutic.”
Hanson also said the comedy works because the characters aren’t out to get themselves.
“They do foolish things, but they don’t do destructive, mean things,” he said. “They’re just human beings struggling through their problems.”
Hanson said some of the comedic elements present in “Moon Over Buffalo” include mistaken identity, slapstick comedy and physical comedy, as well as the characters.
“Another big part of the humor is in the characters themselves,” Hanson said. “They’re just warm and quirky and engaging. You can relate to them, and then laugh when they do stupid things.”
Malory Brown, a freshman theater major from St. George said her character is relatable, particularly to young girls. Brown’s character is Rosalind, the Hay’s daughter who has left the theater world behind in search for a more normal existence.
“She’s a classic girl who’s grown up with her parents’ beliefs…once she realizes she has her own choice, she leaves,” Brown said.
Assistant set designer D.J. Pike, a freshman theater major from Clinton, said the set of the play reflects the quirky lives of the characters.
“[The play] takes place in the back of a theater,” he said. “This whole play is pretty chaotic. People keep running in and out of doors, yelling at each other.”
Pike said even the smallest details add to the pell-mell design of the set, which then enforces the chaotic nature of the play.
“Even the simplest painting of a line not being horizontal or vertical, but at a diagonal, gives an emotion of unbalance,” he said. “It’s very vibrant colors we’re painting on the sets. The floorboard has horizontal stripes different from the horizontal walls…it gives it the feel of being unbalanced and crazy.”
Pike said the brighter colors emphasize the comedy in the play.
“If we’d brought in darker colors, it wouldn’t come off as comedy,” he said. “With the brighter colors it helps (audiences) get a good, happy feeling.”
Brown said she wanted audiences to leave the play happier than before they came.
Hanson echoed the statement when he said he hoped the play would allow audiences to take a break from the stresses of reality.
He said: “This is a theater evening that’s just to let your hair down and laugh and not be too serious about it.”
“Moon Over Buffalo” runs Sept. 27-29 and Oct. 2-6 in the Eccles Mainstage Theatre. Tickets may be purchased at the central campus ticket office, online at dixiestatetickets.com or the Eccles Fine Arts Center Box Office the night of the show.