Two of the three—Vestments of the Gods and The Picture (of Dorian Gray)—featured fresh-faced casts and left me admiring the intensity of their young actors' energy and unbridled commitment to their craft, even if I wasn’t swept away by the shows themselves.
Still the cast is game. Erica Diaz does a fine job as the noble Annie, stage vet Jennifer Cody seems to be having a good time as the school’s narrow-minded PTA president and although the eight actors who make up this show’s Greek chorus are a decade older than the grade schoolers they're playing, they are energetic and sing well.
The odds that the five comely actors in The Picture (of Dorian Gray) may have careers seem even stronger. The three men and two women apparently all come from Juniata College, a small liberal arts school in Pennsylvania that prides itself on its science program, and they’re almost vibrating with the desire to show how much theater matters.
Their show takes a highly-stylized approach to Oscar Wilde’s classic novella about a hedonist who trades his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Neal Utterback is listed as the adapter and director and he has the actors, all dressed in androgynous jeans and white t-shirts, pass the characters around irrespective of gender. The change is signaled when an actor puts on one of the distinctive pairs of sunglasses that symbolize each role.
A narrator periodically recites Wilde's prose. The actors sometimes speak in unison. They also perform choreographed movements and sing snatches of contemporary songs chosen to underscore telling moments in the story. Bill found it all to be a bit too precious. And the story can be difficult to follow if you come to it new. But I'm a sucker for this kind of flamboyant stagecraft.