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

    Play set in Great Depression to open Valentine’s Day


    As Feb. 14 looms closer, one group of students will be focused on something other than Valentine’s Day. Next Monday, the department of theater and dance is debuting “Flora, the Red Menace.”

    The musical is the story of Flora Mezaros, a young graphic artist looking for work during the Great Depression. The cast of nine is filled with characters such as communists, a dancing duo and a plotting secretary.

    The show is running Monday, Feb. 14, through Sunday, Feb. 20, at the Allen Bales Theater. Tickets are $10 for both students and general admission and can be purchased at the Theater & Dance Box Office in Rowand-Johnson Hall or by calling 348-3400.

    Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with a matinee performance Sunday at 2 p.m.

    Director Matthew Burkholder said one of the reasons he chose “Flora” for this season is its applicability to current life situations.

    “Every page I turned thinking ‘this part is about today,’ or, ‘this is something people struggle with on this campus,’” he said.

    Because the cast is so small, Burkholder said he got a chance to “really dig in” to the music and characters.

    The cast has been working for about five weeks on a range of dance numbers, scene blocking and harmonies in preparation for the upcoming show.

    “It has been a blast working with this cast of people,” said Renee Reineck, a senior majoring in musical theater and interior design who plays the role of Flora in the musical.

    Echoing Burkholder, Reineck said that despite the age of the play, the issues and struggles addressed are still applicable to the students of this campus.

    “It’s about a group of people in their twenties who come together over friendship and love and overcome unemployment and money issues and dating, just like everyone on this campus,” Reineck said.

    “It is very realistic,” said Amber Gibson, a sophomore majoring in theater and English who plays the Head Communist in the play, and is Flora’s adversary.

    “It’s not the happy ‘everybody goes home with everything worked out’ kind of play,” she said.

    However, despite the realism of the plot and characters, the overall message of optimism remains the most important and enjoyable part of the musical, according to members of the cast and crew.

    “Even though the play takes place in the Depression, it’s all about optimism, hope, change,” Burkholder said. “If you want to leave the theater with a feeling that things can be better, this play is for you.”

    Burkholder pointed out that “Flora, the Red Menace” plays a part in theater history as well.

    “‘Flora, the Red Menace,’ is the first play written by Kander and Ebb, the writers of ‘Chicago’ and ‘Cabaret,’” Burkholder said. “One of my favorite things about the show is the killer tap number.”

    Between the tap number and the optimistic plot, Gibson said the Valentine’s Day opening of the play allows for a date opportunity.

    “It’s a great ‘date play,’” Gibson said. “And besides it being a marvelous show with marvelous people, it’s just everything a musical should be.”

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