Fresh off of the Homecoming production of Little Shop of Horrors, Graceland University’s theatre department will be performing Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck on November 21, 22, and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and November 24 at 2:00 p.m. While Little Shop of Horrors is a fun, campy musical about a man-eating plant, Mauritius is a contemporary drama about two sisters who have inherited a stamp collection that could be worth millions. The jump from Little Shop of Horrors to Mauritius is a good example of the diverse theatrical offerings available to Graceland students, who perform in at least one Shakespeare play, contemporary dramas, experimental plays, comedies and musicals during their four years at Graceland. “We try to give audiences and students as many different experiences as possible,” said Mauritius director and theatre professor Gary Heisserer. “When we build a season, we want really diverse offerings, production styles, and ways of staging the plays.”
On the surface, Mauritius is about which sister really owns the stamp collection and whether or not the stamps are real, but “it’s not a play about stamp collecting,” said Heisserer. “There’s a line that I really like in the play: ‘People are like stamps; it’s the errors that make them interesting.’” That line references the “errors” in the “Inverted Jenny,” a stamp on which the image of a Curtiss JN-4 airplane was printed upside down and, for that reason, is worth millions. “To me, the play is about how we all manage our lives, given our imperfections,” said Heisserer. “That’s what makes the play interesting, not whether the stamps are real or not or which sister owns them.”
Mauritius has a small cast of five students: Claire McClain as Jackie, Derek Burton as Phillip, Troy Laudauski as Dennis, Jake Kaufman as Sterling, and Rebecca Perryman as Mary. Two of the actors are new to both Graceland and the theatre department. “The more experienced students’ work ethic is something that helps the less experienced students to work with me,” said Heisserer. “On the other hand, I have to learn how to work with them. Every actor needs a different kind of help from the director.”
A warning to audiences: Mauritius contains violence and strong language and is intended for mature viewers only.