There’s nothing like a tale of falling underpants to bring a group of people together. Or, at least, that’s how it seems with the cast of The Underpants, the Mills Players’ first production of the year.
The show opened Thursday, Oct. 26 and had performances Oct. 27, 28 and 29, all starting at 8 p.m. in Lisser Hall. The Underpants is centered around a German couple, Theo and Louise, and the scandal created when Louise’s underpants accidentally fall down during the King’s parade. When two men begin seducing Louise, she must figure out how to get rid of the man she doesn’t want and how to have an affair with the man she does want, all under the nose of her stern, uptight husband.
Stacey Fisher, who is on the Mills Players executive board, directed this production, and Amanda Parker was the stage manager. The show was originally written by Carl Sternheim but adapted by Steve Martin.
The group rehearsed for six weeks for the performances and what the cast members will really take away is the sense of community they found in the Mills Players.
An ensemble production like this one creates a certain amount of intimacy between cast members.
“I felt really welcome,” said freshwoman Artemesia Keith. “I love the people I’m working with.”
Keith jumped at the first opportunity to be in a play at Mills. She plays Benjamin Cohen, one of the men who seduces Louise.
Sophomore Rachel Levinson-Emley, who plays the second seducer, Frank Versati, said she has always looked to the theater community for a lot of her friends. She’s been involved in theater since fifth grade, but hasn’t been in a play in over a year.
“I was pretty desperate to be in a real play,” she said. “I’m having an amazing time.”
In her first male role, Levinson-Emley describes Versati as a “nice challenge.”
“I’ve grown a lot as an actor,” she said.
Levinson-Emley also enjoyed working with the other actresses throughout the weeks of rehearsals and plenty of late nights.
“I feel at home with the people here … I’ve found my new theater community.”
Podge Thomas, who plays the arrogant Theo Maske, has had to work a little bit harder because of her background, which is mostly in musicals and opera.
“This is my first real play,” she said.
However, she described the audition process as “pretty unintimidating.”
When talking about her fellow actresses, Thomas mentions how much support they’ve given her.
“They all have a lot more experience than I do … it’s a very humbling experience,” she said. “They’ve been incredibly supportive.”
She also mentioned how professional Fisher and Parker have been throughout the entire process, from auditions to performances.
The Underpants is the first production from the Mills Players since Winnie Wallace, the last Drama major, graduated last spring (the drama department was cut).
Fisher’s director’s note in the program given out at performances cited “poor turnout as far as numbers went” at auditions “but as far as talent goes, the turnout was amazing.”