A Noisy, Fun Evening at “Overnight Sensations”

The Del Monte sisters were great fun.

The house was so full that the beginning of the beginning of the run of the six plays on tap had to be delayed. But it was a good-humored crowd, one as surprised as I that it was an SRO night. And this crowd came to have fun. Nothing would delay that.

Ginger Poole and her sweet little girl.

Nothing did.

From the moment Ginger Poole of Mill Mountain Theatre took to the stage with her little girl to introduce Hollins Theatre Department’s Todd Ristau’s signature evening of “Overnight Sensations”–the 10th one in 11 years–the roof shook. The plays, six of them, written overnight, rehearsed all day, presented beginning at 8:15 p.m., were fine works and the appreciation was expressed in peals of laughter, tears, hoots, brisk applause.

As one who was on stage briefly, I can tell you that it’s a lot better to play a full house than an empty one, but this was off the charts in its size and intensity.

Crowd awaiting the start.

I mentioned this morning to Todd (as I passed off a thumb drive with photographs taken by my friend Susan and me) that this was not your typical, subdued Mill Mountain evening and he took that as a criticism of MMT. It certainly was not. I am a huge fan of our primary professional theater, but I love seeing new, younger faces sitting in those red seats, as well, and about half the crowd was new to OS (Todd asked and the hands shot up). A lot of them will come back.

Bayla Sussman confronts Michael Mansfield.

These plays were only 10 minutes long, but the writing, directing and some of the acting were as good as anything you’ll see in this market. The crowd appreciated that.

Here is a bit of what it looked like (the play action from Susan’s seat, the rest from my perspective).

Gene Marrano and Emma Sala help Natalie Faunce. That’s TV actor Jim Beaver (“Deadwood”), in the background.

That’s me (right), Jared Morgan and brassy Anna Holland in what was actually a tear-jerker.

Meredith Levy stayed up all night to write our play, then stuck with us through rehearsal. To a degree.

Janemarie Laucella and and Claire Hilton played zoo animals.

This is the part I like (I’m on the left in wash-out light).

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