Parents and even grandparents might have a pang of nostalgia if they head over to Mountain Pointe Theatre Company’s next production this weekend.
The school’s thespians will be presenting “She Kills Monsters” at 6 p.m. Feb. 8 and 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Feb. 9 at the school, 4201 E. Knox Road, Ahwatukee. Admission, $7 for students and $10 for adults, is at the door.
The 8-year-old play is a comedy even though its main character, Agnes Evans, is grieving the death of her sister. Described as a “comedic romp into the world of fantasy role-playing games,” the play is a “journey of discovery” and action complete with “homicidal fairies, nasty ogres, and 90s pop culture” that pays “a heart-pounding homage to the geek and warrior within us all,” according to one review.
But the reason for nostalgia will be that Evans is launched into this mythical world by her late sister’s notebook for “Dungeons and Dragons,” one of the most popular role-playing games of the 1970s and ‘80s.
Director and science teacher Corey Quinn said he liked the idea of bringing the world of “Dungeons and Dragons” to the stage partly because “this show has a cast of mostly strong, weapon-wielding female characters” and partly because “it was set in the ‘90s – my high school era.”
Quinn, a graduate of Mountain Pointe, said he was “honestly surprised how many students even knew what ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ even was” but was even more surprised by how many had played it.
“I myself never played, but I was familiar. Once I explained the story regarding the game, the sisters in the story, the crazy monsters, and lots of crazy costumes and scenes, they were in,” he added, noting:
“Surprisingly, a huge group of them actually play this game still today! I had no idea. We even have some faculty that play still today.”
It may not be as surprising as it seems.
The website syfywire.com recently reported that sales of the streaming version of “Dungeons and Dragons” are through the roof and that 2018 was the best year since the current owner acquired it in 1997.
An estimated 8.6 million Americans played the game in 2018, the site reported.
As for Mountain Pointe’s production, Quinn is promising a visual spectacle.
“There will be no lack of crazy costumes, weapons and makeup,” he said. “Also, the set design is pretty elaborate and ambitious, but we can handle it. Our students are all over this, and I have complete faith in our crew. This set will involve lots of imagination, lights, projection, sound and versatility. We are very proud of it.”
Indeed, the cast and crew have had only five weeks to get their act together.
But Quinn said, “Our crew is managed by myself, my student tech directors and the student crew chiefs. They have clear goals and objectives, and by staying organized and communicating we tend to run pretty smoothly. Everyone has a job, and we do those to our best ability.”
But it was a challenging start getting into their roles about role playing, he added.
“To get all cast and crew familiar with the game, we are even playing a small campaign each week to understand the logistics, rules and stories,” he said. “I’ve even had some parents come forward and share their old ‘Dungeon and Dragons’ day stories and game items.”
And the challenge didn’t stop there.
“Every show has its unique challenges,” Quinn said. “Reading a script is like translating another language sometimes. You need to take what you see on the page, and put that into action. Not all scripts tell you what to do, and most directors like to interpret the script into their own vision along with the students.
“This show’s main challenges will probably be all the unique costumes, props and monsters we need to make. In those final weeks getting lights, sound, projection and all the crew areas to merge together into one working show is also a challenge, but also the most amazing part. When a show comes to life over the course of a few weeks is very exciting.”
Quinn said because the play is set in the ‘90s, “I assume the parents might find a bit of nostalgia while watching the show with some of the references and music.”
But even if adults never played the game, the show is worth their while, he said.
“The list of reasons for seeing a show goes on and on – students’ hard work, supporting the arts, great storytelling, relatable issues,” he said, adding:
“If I could communicate one thing to anyone thinking about seeing a show, it would be that live theater is an experience you can’t find in your TV or on the big screen. When you go to see a show live, you are inches away from something real and impressive. You see the hard work right in front of you that went into telling these stories. All forms of art, whether it is band, choir, orchestra or theatre are an experience that is instantaneous and can’t be saved, or DVRed or recorded. We are storytellers.”
Allie Konczak plays the lead role of Agnes, while Julianne Porter plays her sister and Jessica Calabrese narrates.
Helping Quinn direct are students Alex Sudis and A’Shayla Anderson.
Cast members include: Benjamin
Fredes-Williams, Cassie Presume, Jeffery Maples, Jaiden Wester-Stiltz, Mckenna Fowler, Xavion Grantham, Tyler Aicard,
Jared Adams, Molly Harrison, Makayla
Blunt, Patrick Keyser, Andre Presume, Andrew Gurr, Tyrek Daniels, Lexi
Artusa-Sirota, Nicholas Guerrero, Alvin Grio, Jayla Alston, Shayla Pollard, Cove Chon, Ali Adelis, Jeff Maple, Carly Quinn, Addison Harvey, Jori Evans and Christian Perez.
Ethan Briant is the lead designer, and Jayla Alston is technical director.
The crew also includes Mikaela Romo, Emelia Robertson, Lexi Powers, Trevor Stout, Sam Cool, Cove Chon, Myles
Thomas, Tyreq Daniels, Sky Ferguson,
Kiani Loreya, Andrew Gurr, Patrick
Keyser, Ali Adelis, Molly Harrison, Ryan Bachelor, Makayla Blunt, Mckenna
Fowler and Alvin Grio.
Also part of the crew are: Madi Smith, Nicholas Guerrero, Jeffery Maple, Patrick Keyser, Andre Presume, Lexi Artusa-Sirota, Cameron Clark, Rebecca Jacobs, Savanna Bowen, Shayla Pollard, Taylor Simmons, Alayjia Marcelin and Clare Kulaga.