Erie Fringe Fest 2019 wrapped up Saturday night with “The 23:59:59 Show.”
Members and friends of the Alpha Psi Omega Honor Society joined creative forces to write, produce, rehearse and perform the production in a mere 24 hours.
Inspired by the contents of a random box, the cast came up with a solid storyline about an everyday family: mom, dad, three kids and familial tension to boot.
The show opened with the eldest daughter Sam, played by Petra Shearer, breezing in fashionably late to a family dinner.
Bickering ensued around the table, which quickly culminated in a definitive announcement from parents Elizabeth and Thomas: they are deciding to separate.
Cheyenne Stefano played Elizabeth, the doting, perfectionist mother of three.
Elizabeth’s children are her entire world; she measures her success solely as a reflection of their success.
Brady Bizon, a freshman physician assistant major, starred as Thomas, the work-obsessed, beer-drinking foil to Stefano’s Elizabeth.
Thomas also cares for his children, but he showed his love primarily through financial means while they were growing up, opting to skip some of their biggest milestones to chase the next promotion.
Teenage Taylor (Camryn Grey), along with fresh-out-of-the-nest Sam, struggle to cope with the news of the separation, prompting reflections into their childhoods, who their parents are and what makes a family.
Meanwhile, middle child Adrian, played by Justin Karns, just wants to be heard.
The show was packed with tension and emotion, but also laced with a steady current of humor.
One minute, the audience was chuckling at a humorous accusation Elizabeth shouted at Thomas.
The next, they plummeted into a dark, vulnerable place as Adrian expressed his deep frustrations with the family.
Standout Stefano even managed to cry on cue in a painfully realistic, heart-twisting moment.
Brian Bowersox, a junior communication arts major, directed the show.
“[The 23:59:59 Show] teaches you to work on a deadline and find the sweet spot between quality and quantity,” Bowersox said.
“For example, we could spend the entire 24 hours working to produce one very good minute, but that would be pretty disappointing for the audience. Instead, we had to quickly come up with a loose story that we were able to work with and extend over 20 minutes.”
“The 23:59:59 Show” ran for one night only, but Schuster Theatre’s season is not yet over.
The next production will be “Big Fish,” a whimsical musical about a traveling salesman’s love for his son, told primarily through fairytales.
“Big Fish” will take the stage at 8 p.m. April 25-27 and May 2-4, plus at 2 p.m. on April 28.