Autumn, 1971. Donovan’s “Season of the Witch” set the tone of Little Theatre’s latest production, “The Magenta Moth,” as the stage of the Marie Maday Theatre transformed into a cozy, rustic cabin. The rather remote location seemed to be an ideal site for serene recuperation, as lifelong friends and intellectual stimulants Cassie, played by Madeline Rehm, and Grace, played by Claire Bingaman, intended on spending a revitalizing visit in order for Cassie’s wounded legs to heal. Little did they know, future calamities awaited them that would cause the women to reexamine their morals and analyze the true magnitude of deception.
A knock on the door in the midst of toasting their wine initiated the beginning of the chaos, to which three mysterious young girls were then welcomed into the cabin with open arms. Agnes played by Brianna Propis, Flo played by Kaitleigh Longoria and Bunny played by Sarah Giblin possessed seemingly harmless elements of mischievousness and simultaneous youthful bliss, but Cassie became determined to uncover their backgrounds.
The girls belonged to a blood-thirsty, Satan-worshipping cult that was more than ready to strike again. Revealed during one of the show’s most memorable scenes accompanied by The Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin’,” the girls removed their wigs to reveal their true identities, marked by the cult’s signature dyed bright red hair.
“It became a power battle — mostly between Agnes and Cassie — to survive,” explained sophomore and Little Theatre’s Public Relations Assistant Sarah Giblin. “Cassie tried to help the girls and wanted to understand them because she didn’t want them to be punished even though she knew what they were doing was obviously wrong.”
The girls maintained a common goal of desiring to wreak havoc on the lives of Cassie and Grace, and their individual personalities were able to contribute to the campiness of “The Magenta Moth” and its unique execution of character dynamics.
Giblin’s taciturn character, Bunny, for example, expressed herself solely through her actions and one particular word: “ditto.”
“It was definitely a challenge,” Giblin admitted. “But I think by the end of it–– once I finally started understanding Bunny as a character–– it was something I really enjoyed and hope to take into future roles. I had to rely on embodying what I thought she would be doing, which involved a lot of swaying and wandering around.”
As the plot unfolded, the girls continued toying with their newfound victims in hopes of swindling money from them and, ultimately, murdering them. It proved to be a difficult feat as they experienced frequent interruptions from two bumbling cops played by Ethan Wood and Vincent Barile, and Grace’s nephew David, played by Andrew Phelan, who at first was smitten by the girls but eventually rendered a crucial role in bringing about their conviction.
In discussing his approach to helming “The Magenta Moth,” Student Director and Little Theatre’s Vice President Miles Keefe reflected on the elements of the show that captivated him, as well as the correlations he found between acting and directing to further assist his process.
“The storyline was really interesting and a lot of fun, but imagining the visual aesthetics and music was what drew me to direct,” Keefe said.
Keefe is a familiar thespianic face in the Marie Maday Theatre, having acted in a plethora of shows throughout his time in Little Theatre from his freshman year to current senior year.
“For directing, it’s very interesting to try and keep a person’s performance in mind in relation to the various other performances on stage. I approach it similarly to acting in the sense that I imagine the play as if I were all the characters, which is how I block it,” Keefe explained.
“Since plays are so in-the-moment and live, music can really isolate a scene’s energy and weave the separate onstage elements together,” Keefe said. “Having a soundtrack that can point to what’s happening onstage with how the music itself sounds is really cool.”
Thus, in combining a devoted group of individuals with excellent leadership and a felicitous soundtrack to accompany the process, “The Magenta Moth” was as successful as it was enjoyable.
“I watched the show all four times and I watched all the dress rehearsals. Once I could put my keyboard away and stop taking notes and genuinely just watch it as a fan, I was so proud of everyone and everything that they did. It made me very happy,” Keefe gushed.