Second Studio, Southern Utah University’s student-led theatre group, will open their first show of the spring semester on Thursday, Feb. 17. “Silent Sky” by Lauren Gunderson tells the true story of Henrietta Leavitt, the woman who discovered how to measure the distance between stars. The show is directed by Artistic Director Laurel Buxton.
After the opening night performance, the cast is inviting patrons to their Opening Night Gala: Starry Night, dressed in their best galaxy-inspired looks. It will take place in the auditorium lobby for those wanting to take pictures with the cast with refreshments provided.
“We started two days into the semester but then we had to go on Zoom temporarily,” said Buxton. “It’s been a process in which everyone has learned how to trust and collaborate.”
Moving rehearsals to Zoom was not the only issue Buxton faced when working on the production. Despite having a faculty advisor, as all Second Studio shows do, most decisions come down to the director’s discretion.
“Lisa [Quoresimo] is my faculty advisor for this production so I do have that option,” said Buxton. “Ultimately there are some calls in the rehearsal room that you just have to trust your gut on.”
One of the main differences between a Second Studio production and a main stage production is the scope and scale of the show. Second Studio operates under a much smaller budget and performs in the Black Box as opposed to the Utah Shakespeare Festival facilities.
“Working on a mainstage, you’re a lot more sure and a lot more focused,” said Stage Manager Spencer Smith. “A student-led show is an opportunity for students to figure out where they’re going.”
The crew of the show feels prepared for the show to open, something that came as a surprise to Smith. The show had tech, a rehearsal with all of the sound, lights and other technical aspects, Feb. 12, which ran smoothly.
The cast of the show feels slightly less prepared for the show to open but still feels confident in their abilities.
“Are you ever really prepared for a show to open?” asked Kendra Pugmire who plays the leading role of Henrietta Leavitt. “I’ve got the lines down, I’ve got the blocking, we have everything set up, it’s time to go.”
Zachary Mittleman, who plays Peter Shaw, is jumping into the show unexpectedly due to illness in the cast.
“I’ve had eight or nine days so far to learn about 346 lines,” said Mittleman. “It’s been challenging and stressful but it’s still been fun.”
Mittleman has enjoyed working with the other actors in the show, who have helped to guide him through the process of taking on the role. Worst case scenario, he will have the option to use a script on stage but feels hopeful that he will be fully memorized by the time the show opens.
“‘Silent Sky’ is about more than just science,” said Buxton. “‘Silent Sky’ goes beyond this little moment in history—it shows how each of us have an opportunity every single day to change the world.”
“Silent Sky” will be in the SUU Black Box Feb. 17, 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $5.
Article by: Tessa Cheshire
Photos courtesy of Laurel Buxton