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Seniors Lead Pygmalion Cast

4/5/2010

Rose Harness and Jason Shifflett rehearse a scene from Pygmalion.

The last semester of college. Your last chance to do something you've wanted to do since your freshman year. About half the cast of the upcoming Williams Baptist College theatre production of Pygmalion decided for their last semester of college, they would be in a play.

Five of the 11 cast members of the WBC production will be graduating in May: Kimberly Wells of Williford; Andi Turner of Tuckerman; Rachel Leach of Pine Bluff ; Andy Hayden of Conway; and Rose Harness of Greers Ferry.

For Wells and Turner, this will be their first appearance on stage. Both have worked backstage, Wells in costumes and music, Turner as stage manager. But, being on stage will be a first for both of these seniors. "After doing so much off stage work, I decided to try on stage," Wells commented. In another first for Wells, she wrote the script for The Story Store which was presented in February at the Walnut Ridge Community Center.

Wells will be playing the part of Mrs. Higgins, Henry Higgins' mother, and Turner will be Mrs. Eynsford-Hill. Wells described her character as an old lady with a lot of spunk. "She is the only one who can keep Henry in line," Wells explained. Turner described her character as a "snooty" lady who pretends to be rich even though she isn't.

Leach will be making her third appearance on the WBC stage. In addition, she has been involved in backstage work. "I love the friendly atmosphere," Leach said about being involved in the WBC theatre. "We have a great time." Leach will be playing the part of Clara Eynsford-Hill. "My character is very concerned about appearances. She hides her insecurity of being from a poorer family by acting like a snob."

The two most experienced of the cast, Hayden and Harness, have not only worked together in play productions, but have been members of The Cast, a traveling drama ministry team. Hayden has been on the Cast for two years, Harness for four.

"I enjoy being given a character that I can create and become on stage," Hayden said. Hayden recently appeared in The Fantasticks last fall and was a lead in last spring's production of The Birds. "I enjoyed the past productions that I've been involved in and this was my last chance to perform at WBC," Hayden explained. Hayden has the part of Colonel Pickering, who was described by the actor as a "wealthy bachelor … a gentleman to even the poor, dirty class."

Harness has been involved in several productions at WBC, six to be exact, as well as shows at the Imperial Theatre in Pocahontas. "I just love acting. I enjoy being a different character every time I am on stage. Theatre reveals the other side of my personality that many don't get to see," Harness said. She went on to add that most of the characters she has played are unique and different than she. Although she loves to act, she hates the memorization of lines. "I just want to act," Harness stated.

Harness will be playing the part of Eliza Doolittle. "I love this play and the leading lady. It allows me to show my growth as an actor over the last four years." Harness described her part in the production as an "ignorant, saucy flower girl who gains self-awareness that reveals her strength and independence as a lady."

The graduating actors will be joined by Jason Shifflett of Fayetteville, Katie Williams of Imboden, Elizabeth Fehr of Poplar Grove, Anna Hayden of Conway, Cody Robinson of Marion and Stephen Wantulok of Searcy.

The five seniors all felt that their last performance at WBC has been a positive experience. From the people to the atmosphere, they all felt the finale of their WBC acting career was enjoyable and fun. "We've had a good time while working together to create the best possible production of Pygmalion," Harness said.

Pygmalion will be staged April 15 and 16 in the old chapel on the WBC campus. Admission will be $1 for students and senior citizens, $3 general admission. Curtain time will be 7:30 nightly.

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