Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Theatre department kicks off new season with “Fools”

UA’s theatre department will kick off the 2012-13 season with “Fools,” a comic fable set in 19th century Russia, on Monday, Sept. 24.

The play is narrated by Leon Tolchinsky, a young school teacher who stumbles upon a city cursed for 200 years by “chronic stupidity,” and must find a way to break the curse in order to marry his love interest, Sophia.

This will be the UA directorial debut of John Nara, a second year MFA student in the directing program and a native of Syracuse, N.Y.

“It has a lot of vaudeville and burlesque bits in it,” Nara said. “It has given the students a chance to improve their comic timing. It’s fun, and there is no pressure to get dramatic at any point. It appeals to the young and old.”

“Fools” differs from a typical UA production, as its cast features all undergraduate students. Nara narrowed down the 175 students who auditioned for all four shows at the beginning of the year down to 50 to read from the script. From the 50, Nara said he chose all undergraduates.

“That was a testament to all of us and showed how much he really appreciated our work,” Esther Workman, a sophomore majoring in theatre who shares the role of Sophia, said. “It made us want to work harder.”

Nara chose “Fools” to help students practice comedic timing and give undergraduates a chance to showcase their talents.

“We embrace each other’s unique qualities and then chose shows that reflect that,” Natalie Riegal, a senior majoring in musical theater, said. “We don’t usually do shows that are super well-known, but they always seem exactly perfect for the people that are in them.”

Riegal, a veteran in the UA theatre department, shares the role of Sophia with Esther Workman. She has been in five shows in her four years at the University, including “Fefu and Her Friends” and “Animal Crackers.”

“I think it’s interesting because, as college students, we all come in, and we’re not knowledgeable about life or what we’re studying, but we know what we want to do and what our goal is,” Riegal said. “I think, with the journey that I get to take with Sophia every night, from being stupid to gaining knowledge and becoming a different person is a very condensed version of what all college students go through.”

John Paul Snead, a senior majoring in musical theatre, is also a UA theater veteran, having performed in multiple productions, such as “Candide” and “Moby Dick.” In this production, Snead plays Leon Tolchinsky, the young school teacher, and he said he hopes to continue his theatre career after he graduates.

“We get to talk and interact with the audience,” Snead said. “Our goal is to bring them on stage with us. We hope to get them to laugh with us so that they feel part of the journey and part of the story.”

“Fools” will take place at the Allen Bales Theatre from Sept. 24 to 28 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $10 at the box office at Marian Galloway Theatre in Rowand-Johnson Hall or online at

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