When Okoboji Summer Theatre Artistic Director Dan Schultz told me he chose plays with love themes for the 2014 season, he didn't warn me that love is not always a pretty story with a fairytale ending.
"Rich Girl" opened last night and I was somewhat in shell shock when I returned home. The way the play ended had me wondering many things. I am not the only one. The audience was mesmerized by the story unfolding before us. Schultz pulled out all the stops when he lured actress Celeste Ciulla to OST for the first time. She is an award-winning performer who travels all over the United States and has been directed by some of the best in the theatre world.
Ciulla portrayed Eve, the rich mother. She was so good that by the end of the first act, I hated her -- really, really hated her. Culla's stage presence is amazing to witness. She was in command of the stage at all times.
Stephens College student Lydia Miller played the daughter Claudine. We had trouble hearing her sometimes but as the evening progressed, we grew to love her character. She gave an emotional performance and I applaud her!
I loved Melanie Bosley's portrayal of Maggie, the executive assistant. She was funny, direct and warm. Bosley was delightful to watch.
Evan White is a Masters student at the University of Florida. He made the trip to Okoboji to play Henry ... the boyfriend. He was magnificent. His flair for both comedy and drama was acutely accurate. Bravo, bravo Evan!
We in the audience learned that there is a very thin line between love and hate. We laughed, we were shocked and we cared deeply through various parts of the play.
A veteran director and acting professor from New York City, Rich Cole jumped at the chance to return to Okoboji to do this play. He had a great cast to work with and he loves Okoboji. His directing skills brought out the best these actors had to offer us.
The audience sat spellbound during certain scenes and laughed at others. I don't want to give away too much of the plot because it is so important to see this one for yourselves. Not only is the acting superb, the directing top-notch, but I have to mention the set. Scenic designer Brandon PT Davis was clever in creating three set locations on one small stage. It suited the play perfectly and the transitions were totally smooth.
"Rich Girl" is labeled a romance but I would call it the rocky, rocky road to romance. It taught us about love between friends, love between two consenting adults and love between parent and child. It taught us just how fragile those loves can be at times and I think we learned our lesson; except the ending still has me wondering. Does it do that to you too?