ACT troupe captures art and science

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a mathematics genius, an artistic visionary, an aspiring inventor and an old man who constantly had to pee met in a bar one night?

No, that isn’t the start of a joke. It was the question that All College Theatre answered this past week in their five performances of Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.”

The play focuses on an imagined meeting between Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso (along with several other, less famous characters) at a bar near the dawn of the 20th century, before the two had become as internationally known as they would someday be.

The All College Theatre troupe led an impressive performance, playing the roles of Einstein and Picasso. (Photo courtesy of Claire Symansky)

“I was concerned when I first got the role because I thought it would be really difficult, and it wasn’t easy, but I was happy with what I was able to do with it,” said sophomore psychology major Garrett Verdone, who portrayed Einstein.

Much of the action in the play was based around the seemingly crazed theoretical thinking of Einstein and the womanizing antics of freshman political science major Sam Waxembaum’s Picasso — which led, of course, to some on-stage interaction between the performers.

“When you’re in theater … Eventually in your theater career, you’re going to have to do an on-stage kiss or something,” said freshman history and secondary education double major Rachel Friedman, who portrayed Suzanne, The Countess and a female admirer (three separate roles). “It’s just part of the job, you don’t even question it. It’s just something we do.”

The play’s story also included input from freshman international business major Adam New’s old-man Gaston and a few appearances by junior computer science major Graham Mazie’s Schmendiman, an aspiring and wacky inventor whose only lasting contribution (based on the play) was the use of the word “Cheese” when taking pictures. Of course, the play’s storyline wasn’t the most important part to the people acting it out.

“I think if there’s one thing we all feel, it’s that theater is something that’s really integral in all of our lives,” Waxembaum said. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, there’s always something here that you can find a passion for.”

The show’s seniors agreed, despite their trepidations at leaving the College behind.

“I couldn’t ask to be in a better show for my final performance here,” said senior history and secondary education double major Casie Fitzgerald, who portrayed Picasso’s art dealer Sagot. “I think it was an awesome culmination of my years at TCNJ. I’m excited to graduate, but it’s hard leaving behind something that’s been a part of my life for so long.”

“We do this more than our schoolwork,” said senior communication studies major Brad Heisler, who appeared as a mysterious visitor from the future with a country boy accent, slick hair and hip movements which could make anyone swoon. “I’m glad this is my last show, but at the same time I don’t want to leave.”

Love of their fellow theater members was clear when talking to the performers for any amount of time, as they were quick to mention how impossible the show would have been without everyone working behind the scenes.

“The theatre organizations here are incredible,” Waxenbaum said. “You are just surrounded by a group of talented people who are entirely dedicated to their craft, and treat you like you’re their own flesh and blood. It’s like finding your own adopted family on campus.”

Rounding out the family members onstage were sophomore music and education double major Shannon McGovern as Germaine and alum Sam Paternostro as Freddy.