‘Lives of the Saints’ opens Thursday

The Schuster Theatre will welcome doppelgangers, Polish jokes, a murder mystery and a talking television in “Lives of the Saints,” opening Thursday.

Written by David Ives, “Lives” is a series of seven comedic one-acts. Each is self-contained and lasts about 10 minutes.

Sarah Sgro, a junior French and international studies major, plays a maître d’ in the fourth act, titled “Soap Opera” — a tale about a repairman who falls in love with a washing machine. She also helped with costumes.

As a freshman and for the first half of her sophomore year, Sgro was heavily involved with the theater. She spent her second semester studying abroad in France.

“I really wanted to get back into the swing of things after being away for a while,” she said, trying to organize a mess of clothes, hot glue guns and jars of hair putty in the dressing room.

She’s glad to be back, in part because of the opportunity to work with the Rev. Shawn Clerkin, an associate professor of theater, who is directing “Lives.”

“Shawn’s always fun. He has an interesting method,” Sgro said. “He pushes you in the right direction while still letting you find the character on your own.”

Clerkin is also playing the lead character in the Erie Playhouse’s ongoing production of “Les Miserables.” The two projects on top of his teaching responsibilities have made for an extremely hectic month.

“I haven’t seen my son in four weeks,” he joked.

This is just the latest in Clerkin’s long list of Schuster plays. He has been at the university for 24 years, producing more than 70 shows and directing more than 50.

Clerkin credited his family, students and love of theater for keeping him going.

“I have a family that is incredibly supportive at home and students who are incredibly creative here,” he said. He said he is awed by the student actors’ drive and self-sufficiency. He also praises Paula Barrett, an instructor in Gannon’s communication arts department, for her assistance overseeing “Lives” when he couldn’t be present.

Matt Kridel, a junior psychology major who appears in two “Lives” sketches, called the sporadic rehearsal schedule “unusual.”

“It places a lot of stress on the actors,” he said.

But irregular rehearsals may work to the cast’s advantage.

“The thing with sketch comedy is you can’t over-rehearse it because then it’s not funny,” Sgro said.

In describing “Lives,” Clerkin said, “If ‘Saturday Night Live’ was a little more intellectually stimulating, that’s kind of what it is.”

The show will run at 8 p.m. Sept. 27-29 and Oct. 4-6. There will be a 2 p.m. performance Sunday, Oct. 7. Admission is free with a Gannon ID and $5 for guests. For reservations, call 814-871-7494.

 

APRIL SHERNISKY

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