Classes for St. Ambrose University students didn't begin until Wednesday, August 22. Even so, a dedicated crew of students moved in more than a week early to begin work on the fall Studio Theatre production, none other than the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire.
Rabbit Hole, which ran from Sept. 6-8, focuses on Becca and Howie Corbett (played by sophomore Ellie Larson and junior T.J. Green) struggling to find comfort after the death of their four-year-old son, Danny. Further complications arise when Becca's sister, Izzy (played by senior Rebecca Moews), announces she's pregnant, and Becca's mother, Nat (played by senior Sarah Goodall), attempts to help her cope with grief. Add in the fact that the teenager who accidentally killed Danny, Jason (played by junior Jeffrey Harper), wants to speak with the Corbetts, and you have the heartfelt tragedy that is Rabbit Hole.
"I am very honored to be a part of this production," sophomore Ellie Larson said. "It's a truly heartbreaking story, which unfortunately, people can relate to. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to share it with them and everyone. I hope this show reminded all audience members that even in the hardest of life's situations, hope can still be found."
While the cast was busy learning blocking and memorizing lines, lots of other students pitched in on the design team. Under the helpful guidance of faculty advisor/producer Dr. Corinne Johnson, student director and sophomore Jessica Karolczak assembled a team to make her vision come to life.
Members of the design team included recent SAU grad Hannah Donovan '18 as set and costume designer; sophomore Dustin Whetzler as technical director; sophomore Megan Peterson as props designer and marketing; and first-year Anthony Duckett as lighting designer with senior Kendall McKasson as his master electrician. First-years Luke Peterson and Morgan Reilly were stage manager and assistant stage manager, respectively.
There were some unique aspects to this production. The audience sat in an alley-style setting, meaning on opposing sides of the action. This was meant to make the audience feel like they are in the setting, the Corbett's house, with the characters. In addition, transitions between scenes were fluid to create a continual sense of time moving on.
With only two weeks until opening night, the clock is winding down to get your tickets. And, in case you're wondering if this is a production worth seeing, listen to none other than the student director herself.
"My goal was to fully engulf the audience in the story of Becca and Howie," Karolczak said. "With an alley-style setting and constant character presence, I think this production of Rabbit Hole provided a theatrical experience that not many people had before. Based on the audience's reaction – many people left with tears in their eyes – this play truly brought to life a relatable, sad reality that touched the heart of many who came."