‘The Tin Woman,’ play featuring student, community performers, opens Nov. 15

Sean Grennan’s play “The Tin Woman,” a compelling drama laced with humor and a positive outlook, will be presented Wednesday through Saturday, Nov. 15-18, at Ripon College. Performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Benstead Theatre, C.J. Rodman Center for the Arts. Admission is free, open to the public and suitable for all ages. Seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis with the house opening at 7 p.m. Reservations for general seating can be made at [email protected].

“The Tin Woman” is based on a true story of a young woman who received a heart transplant at the young age of about 30. Even though the “miracles” of modern medicine remain merely “human interest stories” to most people, the astonishing experience of being granted a “second life” after a serious life-saving or life-extending operation can be overwhelming and profoundly life changing.

For the lead character, Joy, the anticipated euphoria did not happen after she received the heart of Jack Borden, who died in a motor vehicle accident. Joy’s search for peace, resolution and the “new life” that has eluded her takes her to the doorstep of Jack’s surviving family, Hank, Alice and Sammy.

The play’s director, Dr. Robert Amsden, professor emeritus of theatre, sees the play as an exploration of a heart-wrenching situation by a clever and insightful playwright. “I think that it makes for great and accessible theatre because it is about fairly typical middle-class people facing a life altering emotional upheaval,” he says. “I like plays that are good vehicles for actors to portray a range emotional responses to situations. Because we are in educational circumstances, a play like this is great training for actors.”

In a departure from most college productions, Amsden has included community members in the cast with “older characters played by actors closer in age to their characters than is possible with strictly college students in the cast,” he says.

The cast include Lucie Hodgkins ’25 of Winneconne, Wisconsin, as Joy; Ben Marn ’25 of Brookfield, Wisconsin, as Jack; Brian Reilly of Ripon as Hank; Holly Sina of Ripon as Alice; Melissa Gerber, Berlin, Wisconsin, as Sammy; and Summer Schlieckau ’25 as Joy’s best friend, Darla.

Brian Reilly is known for his various roles over the years in the old Ripon Summer Players and in the new Ripon Area Community Theatre that he organized and served as president. He says, “Getting to meet and perform with our college cast members has been a great joy.”

Holly Sina’s years of experience include professional performance, and appeared most recently in Ripon Area Community Theatre’s “Rogues Gallery.” She has enjoyed working in a college setting and says, “I love the energy of the cast … and the joy and challenge of telling an important story.”

Melissa Gerber is an alumna of Missoula Children’s Theatre and has acted and directed with Ripon Area Community Theatre.

The production’s scenery and lighting design is by Professor of Theatre John G. Dalziel ’02; and costume design is by Andrea Williams ’04, assistant professor of costume design, Texas A&M University at Commerce. The costume shop manager is Linda Powell of Ripon.

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