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McPherson College Starts Theatre Season With ‘Gamma Rays’

posted Aug 23, 2013 in CAMPUS EVENTS

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, true. But the first play of the McPherson College theatre season also demonstrates that some people don’t survive that adversity.

“The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” shows at 7:30 p.m. Aug 29-31 in MC’s Mingenback Theatre. It’s the first of many productions in the 2013-2014 season.

It uses a science experiment of marigolds exposed to damaging gamma rays as an extended metaphor for the relationship between a mother, Beatrice, and her two daughters, Tilly and Ruth. Beatrice creates a toxic home environment, manipulating and dominating her children.

Kristie Gutierrez, senior, Quinter, Kan., plays the younger daughter, Tilly, who is a scientist conducting the gamma rays experiment in the play and grows up successful despite her mother’s actions.

“The flowers parallel their home life,” Gutierrez said. “If you find yourself in a situation that may not be the best, you’ll still get something from it and still learn from it.”

“Effect of Gamma Rays” is the senior show for Gutierrez; Alyese Crist, Quinter, Kan.; and Sarah Schowengerdt, McPherson, Kan.

Crist plays the older, and favored, daughter. Though given more attention, Ruth has more struggles and failures. Taking on the role for her senior show gave her a different perspective.

“The first time I read it, I was drawn in by different people’s family lives and how you never really stop to think how different it could be,” she said.

Schowengerdt plays the manipulative mother, which she called a “soul-searching process” as Beatrice’s behavior and personality are contrary to her own.

“This is the study of a toxic home life,” Schowengerdt said. “The marigolds grew mutated and grew spectacularly because of the radiation. And others died because of it.”

All of their parts include significant aspects that are their polar opposite, Gutierrez said.

“We’re all playing characters we normally wouldn’t play,” she said. “I think that we’ll all learn something about ourselves from it.”

Cast includes:
Gutierrez; Crist; Schowengerdt; Whitney Jefferson, sophomore, Katy, Texas; and Kathryn Whitacre ’81.

Crew includes:
Dr. Rick Tyler, professor of speech and theatre, set; Zach Winkle, senior, Goddard, Kan., lights; Jd. Bowman, associate professor of theatre, sound; Ethan Quinn, senior, McPherson, Kan.; and Justin Biegger, senior, Fuquay Varina, N.C.

All shows start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to all shows cost $5 for adults and $3.50 for children ages high school and younger as well as seniors. Theatergoers may also obtain a First Nighter’s Membership, which costs $85 for an individual, $170 for a double membership and $260 for a family membership. Membership includes show admission for the entire season as well as a student-produced dinner themed to the production served before every show. This year brings two new benefits of First Nighters: advance notice and priority seating for the “Love Letters” fundraiser production, and the opportunity to join the “First Nighters’ Book Club” - allowing members to follow and discuss the progress of each show from design to the final night.

Reservations may be made by contacting the theatre box office at 620-242-0444 or at

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