Something New at Overnight Sensations

Amanda Mansfield (from left), Gwenyth Strope, Taylor Cobb and Mikayla Cohen in Sarah Smith’s “All’s Fair in Love and Libraries”

Overnight Sensations, the Mill Mountain Theatre/Hollins University summer collaboration, has been pretty stagnant for its 13 years, though that does not imply it has been uninteresting. That changed last night.The group of six 10-minute play-ettes, written, rehearsed and presented in 24 hours, took a turn toward sophistication.

My date and me ready for a night of theatre.

The first change I noticed was that the orchestra pit was open for the spare staging of these works. That hadn’t been done before. There was music. Writers wrote in more props, which have always been at a very minimum. And there was simply a lot more going on in general.

It made for a delightful evening, one stolen–as usual–by writers Ben Williams and Dwayne Yancey, who were strongly challenged for the best play by David Beach, Amy Lytle, Becky Becker and Sarah K. Smith.

The nearly-filled auditorium was alive with laughter, often loud and prolonged.

The premise here is to give the writers prompts, say “children’s theater set in a boarding house” and a line that must be used during the course of the play (“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child,” for example).

I normally spend some of my Overnight Sensations evening on stage, but my grandgirl is in town for a visit, so we went as spectators. Maddie, who is 14, spent the night all but rolling in the aisles. She’s a big fan of this night. And so am I.

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