Modern and minimalistic is the look of the opening performance of “The Cradle Will Rock”. The play opened Friday night at Cal Poly Pomona and entertained the audience in every angle of the room.
“The Cradle Will Rock” was originally written in 1936 by Marc Blitzstein. This music play was originally a part of the Federal Theatre Project (FTP). The play was written during one of the most controversial times in the early 1900s.
According to the director’s notes, “Given the rising tide of opposition against it in Congress … ‘The Cradle Will Rock’ was a dangerous and threatening show.”
Director Bernardo Solano made the creative decision to set the play in modern times. This decision allowed the audience to understand the context of the show on a more personal level.
The set and props on stage were minimalistic and almost nonexistent. Platforms of different heights were placed on stage. The two tallest were on both sides of the stage and each had several strategically placed microphones. A tall and thin backdrop was used as a point of reference for the audience. Throughout the play, the backdrop would show newspaper clippings and circled or highlighted in red was something of vital importance the audience needed to know.
From the very beginning, the audience felt like it was a part of the show. This was very literal for some, because actors pretended to be audience members until a defining moment when they unanimously jumped up and started yelling at actors on stage. It became very common for actors to use seat rows and walkways as part of their stage. Audience members always had to be on the lookout for something happening right behind them.
A thanks and special acknowledgment should be given to Janet Noll, who was the pianist for the entire show. She performed beautifully and created the mood for each scene.
The cast was incredibly talented in its singing and acting abilities. Many of the actors played more than one role, and did a commendable job distinguishing each character strictly through their performance. Full costume changes did not occur, but an item of clothing would be added, removed or rearranged to signify a change in character.
Theater student Christian Holguin, who starred in the role of “Mr. Mister,” was a joy to watch. Holguin was the perfect depiction of his character as a rich business tycoon whose only care in the world is his status quo in the world that he bought and bribed. The look of perpetual disgust and a feeling of superiority was mastered by Holguin’s performance.
The role of “Mrs. Mister” was played by third-year acting student Veronica Cortez. Her performance was one of the strongest within the entire show. Cortez was vibrant, bubbly and over the top, which was fitting for the role of a rich woman who can buy her every whim. Her voice was wonderful to listen to, and powerful enough to make it to the back rows.
Fourth-year theater student Emma Haines did an amazing job playing three different characters. Haines was “Sadie,” a woman in love who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was also “Junior Mister,” a lustful, lazy and entitled son of Mr. Mister. Also, she was “Professor Scoot,” who was a very loud and opinionated college professor. Haines had personality like no other; her facial expressions alone were enough to send the audience into a fit of laughter.
This production has been wonderfully executed by an entire team of talented people. “The Cradle Will Rock” is a show that must be seen. It is comical, controversial and relevant to current political events. I give this performance a 9 out of 10.
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