The spring Studio Theatre production at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, is a magical fable that cleverly balances comedy and tragedy, the mundane and the sublime.
Set in heartland America during the late 19th century, “Anatomy of Gray” is a coming-of-age story that explores the intersections of science, faith, love, loss and hope. When young June’s father dies, she prays for a healer to come to her small Indiana town so that no one will suffer again. Are her prayers answered when, the next day, a man in a balloon blows into Gray and professes to be a doctor? It seems they are, until a mysterious illness starts claiming more lives.
“One of the reasons that I am particularly excited about directing ‘Anatomy of Gray’ is that the playwright, Jim Leonard, is a good friend and mentor of mine going back over 20 years,” says David Vegh, the Penn State Behrend theatre faculty member who will direct the show. “We met in the late ʼ80s when I was an actor in his play ‘The Diviners,’ and he later was my playwriting teacher in an M.F.A. program at Arizona State. When he started writing and producing television in Hollywood, I worked as his assistant for a while in addition to playing small roles in some of the shows he wrote, most recently ‘Dexter.’”
“I just love his playwriting,” Vegh adds. “Jim tends to set his stories in bygone eras, but he brings a very modern sensibility to them, similar to the Coen Brothers, whose films I also adore. This play, like Thornton Wilder’s ‘Our Town,’ is very theatrical in a minimalist sort of way. The audience really gets to use its imagination, which to me is the magic of live theatre.”
Leonard himself has described “Anatomy of Gray” as “a children’s story for adults.” “It’s a beautiful story with universal themes that remain very relevant to our world today,” Vegh says. “It’s a very funny play, but at the same time, if we do our job right, there are going to be some moments that might break your heart as well.”
The student cast of “Anatomy of Gray” is Erie residents Lacey Murdock and Adam Rossi; Ryan Richards of Edinboro; Caitlin Adair of South Fayette; Chikodili Agwuna of Columbia, Md.; Abigail Braun of Export; Rayna Ganabathi of Clarion; Kyle Mathias of Butler; Steven Savoy of Hagerstown, Md.; Kimberly Shaner of New Wilmington; Sarah Veslany of Allentown; and Mary Beth Cartier, Cory Phillips, and Teireik Williams of Pittsburgh.
Dates and Times
Friday, April 5, 8 p.m. (Opening night)
Saturday, April 6, 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 7, 2 p.m. matinee
Thursday, April 11, 8 p.m.
Friday, April 12, 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 13, 8 p.m. (Closing night performance)
$3.00 Penn State Behrend Students (with student ID)
$5.00 General Admission – Adults
Tickets for the general public may be reserved by calling the Reed Union Building desk at 814-898-6242. Behrend students and faculty can purchase tickets directly at the RUB desk (first floor of Reed Union Building).
Please contact David Vegh (email@example.com) for group rates or any additional information.