“The Beautiful Dark” awes crowds at Kean

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Theatre student Daniel Pellicano as Jacob in “The Beautiful Dark”
Photo Credit: Mike Peters

By Jasmine Leach

Kean’s Premiere Stages “The Beautiful Dark”, leaves its audience members in shock, suspense, emotionally confused, sympathetic, stirring up controversy, and desperately craving for an encore.

On Sept. 3 Kean University brought its students and community a performance that encouraged people to open their minds to important social issues, such as suicide, physical, and alcohol/ drug abuse. As well as mental illnesses, such as depression that could lead to harming oneself or others.

“The Beautiful Dark” by Erik Gernard and directed by John Wooten, is about a young man named Jacob (played by Daniel Pellicano, a Kean student) who sees the world in a negative light. Jacob grew up in a household that most people from the outside, would assume was a typical respectful environment to live in.

But when the door is fully open and everything is brought to the light, the household that once appeared to be perfect is the total opposite. Throughout the show, Jacob takes the audience into his life that is consumed with a mother, who was an alcoholic for many years, played by Dana Benningfield.

A father who is physically abusive towards his children, played by Steven Rishard. A young man who tried to commit suicide and has something up his sleeve. A young gay son named Charlie (played by Logan Riley Bruner) and Sydney an ex-girlfriend of Jacob’s (played by Cara Ganski, Kean student) that are terrified of what harmful acts he can commit.

As the play continues, there is a battle brewing between the parents and younger son in trying to help in improving a Jacob’s life. Although his family is helping, it is up to Jacob to pull himself out of the “dark”.

This play created a lot of deep conversation within its audience members and according to Heather Kelley the Premiere Stages’ Audience Services Coordinator, this was their main goal.

She said she hopes this performance “gets the audience to talk about the issues the play is raising. We don’t want to tell them what to think about, but to form their own thoughts. To form conversations.”

Not only was the play successful in sending out a strong message, it also received wonderful reviews. One review comes for Director John Wooten and two are from well known news publications, which are the Alternative Press and Star Ledger.

“The Beautiful Dark” Director John Wooten, said, “…Erik’s important new play is apolitical and points no fingers. Rather, it is an incisive, moving story of a modern mother’s ultimate dilemma.”

Liz Keill from The Alternative Press said “ This is a thought-provoking production, with much to say about the way we deal with those we love.”

Ronni Reich from the Star Ledger said “ …an exploration of when to allow someone to maintain personal freedom and when they become a threat to others. Where is that line?Starting that conversation may be the most valuable takeaway from the production.”

If any students are interested in seeing this performance, it will continue through Sept.22 and the prices for tickets can be found on both the Kean homepage, as well as on the flyers posted around campus.


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