BFA students at Lynn prep for ‘Crimes of the Heart’ Feb. 5-7

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By: Dale King Contributing Writer

The Bachelor of Fine Arts program at Boca Raton’s Lynn University is dashing through its second year, making strides one might consider “dramatic.”

“We have a full class of musical theatre students who are very driven and motivated,” said Adam Simpson, assistant professor in the College of International Communications and chair of the drama program. “We have the opportunity to do a greater variety of shows.”

While Lynn has offered a drama curriculum for a number of years, the BFA course in drama opened in the fall of 2018 under the direction of Adam Simpson and Professors Bruce Linser and Harry Murphy.

Getting into the course is no cakewalk. It requires an application and an audition.

The BFA in drama is the most prestigious undergraduate degree available for theater students. Lynn’s program offers stage hopefuls concentrated theatrical training that prepares them to work professionally in theater, movies, television and musicals.

“As a drama major, students can choose between two specialized tracks, acting or musical theater performance. Students specializing in acting focus on advanced acting techniques, directing, technical theater and playwriting, and students specializing in musical theater performance study singing and vocal techniques, dance, music theory and musical theater history.”

This season, students in the course include both sophomores and freshmen, bringing a more mature and established presence to the group of stage-focused scholars.

Simpson is already planning ahead for the 2020-2021 school year “when we will add one more production to the schedule” as the class expands with freshmen, sophomores and juniors. “This year, we are doing two plays, a musical and the Celebration of the Arts, when segments of the university take part in two days of artistic endeavors [April 30 and May 1.]

“Next year, we’ll be doing two plays, two musicals and the Celebration.”

The BFA students kicked off this year with a production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, a show that tells the story of a small-town girl, Millie Dillmount, who comes to New York City to marry for money instead of love – a thoroughly modern aim in 1922, when women were just entering the workforce. Millie begins to delight in the flapper lifestyle, but problems arise when she checks into a hotel owned by the leader of a white slavery ring in China.

“It was a resounding success,” said Simpson. “Based on the feedback, I understand it was well attended.”

He said the student actors seemed comfortable and understood the racial element which has always been a touchy, sometimes objectionable, component of the musical.

The youthful thespians also handled the second play, Anatomy of Gray, with similar comprehension of its unusual theme.

Written by Jim Leonard Jr. and directed by Linser, who is also an actor and Carbonell Award recipient for stage excellence, Anatomy is a touching, often funny story that paints a picture of love, loss, hope and redemption. Freshman Riley Houde starred as June Muldoon and Jo Piccin took the stage as the enigmatic doctor Galen Gray, who arrived in the town of Gray, Ind., in a hot air balloon that crash-landed during a tornado.

Dr. Gray arrives at a time when the town has no doctor. He begins to cure folks miraculously. But when many people begin developing unusual spots the doctor can’t cure, they question his abilities and the nature of the incurable ailment.

“The students handled the themes well,” said Simpson. “Some of these are things they haven’t yet experienced in their own lives. I was very proud of this, and of this cast.”

Lynn’s BFA learners are prepping for the next show, Crimes of the Heart, scheduled Feb. 5-7 in the Wold Performing Arts Center on the university campus. “They are doing really well, even during the first read, they were able to get the style.”

Simpson will direct the show with its six characters — three sophomores and three freshmen.

Beth Hanley’s Crimes of the Heart is set in Hazlehurst, Miss., where the three Magrath sisters gather to await news of the family patriarch, their grandfather, who is living out his last hours in the local hospital. Lenny, the oldest sister, is unmarried at 30 and facing diminishing marital prospects; Meg, the middle sister, is back after a failed singing career on the West Coast and Babe, the youngest, is out on bail after having shot her husband.

Tickets may be reserved in person at the Lynn box office in the Wold Center; online at lynn.edu/events or by phone at 561-237-9000.