Sing by the light of the moon

George Hay (Spokane, Wash., junior Gabe Lipton) comforts his mistress Eileen (Plano junior Alex Self) in this week's production of "moon over Buffalo." Photo credit: Penelope Shirey

Moon Over Buffalo, a comedy directed by Nick Hoenshell, will open at 7:30 p.m. today in the Jones Theatre and will continue through March 20th.

The farcical play, originally written by Ken Ludwig, follows the story of George and Charlotte Hays, two 1950s has-beens who are making a last stand to save their dying acting careers. The pair is putting on two plays—”Cyrano de Bergerac” and “Private Lives”—and hopes to catch the attention of film director Frank Capra with one of them (though they might have trouble remembering which one).

Spokane, Wash., junior Gabe Lipton and Spicewood junior Tiffany Navarro have tried to make the leading couple a bright, mismatched duo that never gets along but is still perfect for each other. Despite the light and humorous atmosphere, the pair faces real issues in an attempt to save not only their livelihood but their family as well.

“With this play, it’s all about making sure that we tell the story about this family and the love that they feel towards one another, with the comedy stuffed in between,” Hoenshell said. “It’s important to give the audience a complete theatrical experience by being able to tell a good story. We want to tell it truthfully and make sure that it isn’t just a fluff piece, that it’s a story worth telling.”

Hoenshell said the script of “Moon Over Buffalo” was promising from the beginning, a quality that made it stand apart from the other potential productions he submitted to faculty for approval. However, the actors brought the story to life.

Hoenshell unintentionally cast almost all theater students that are a part of Guerrilla Troupe, Baylor’s improvisational comedy group. Lipton said featuring actors with extensive improv and comedy experience will add energy and life to the show, and audiences are guaranteed to see a comedy production that is one of a kind.

“One of my favorite things to do when it comes to acting is to keep it as fresh as possible every night,” said Lipton, who is playing George Hays. “I hate getting stuck into what people call ‘line readings,’ where you find one way to say a line and you do it that same way every single night. It becomes robotic and stale.”

The characters are as vibrant as the story, bringing life to classic funny lines and comedic blunders. Because they have training in comedy and improv as well as formal theater, Lipton said the actors will really be able to bring these flawed characters to life.

“It makes the difference between watching a realistic person on stage versus just a good actor,” Lipton said. “It’s the ability to be able to listen and respond authentically every time.”

The show is a thesis production in partial fulfillment of Hoenshell’s master’s in directing. In Baylor Theatre, graduate directing students aren’t required just to do a dissertation. Hoenshell has spent a full year of his time in the graduate program working on this production. The five chapter, 200 page paper is his thesis defense, whereas “Moon Over Buffalo” is the main act, displaying the directing skills he has learned during his studies.

More information on the show can be found on the Baylor Theatre webpage, and tickets can be purchased here.