Student writers and actors collaborated to perform Bryant Loney’s manuscript in a concert reading.
The concert reading of “Sea Breeze Academy” was filled with laughter as attendees supported their peers. TU students in the theatre department performed the beginning to senior creative writing major Bryant Loney’s third novel “Sea Breeze Academy.” The concert reading was an excellent way to showcase the nature of Loney’s script/novel hybrid.
Before the show, Loney discussed his journey at TU. He said he was sad to be moving on because “the funny thing about college is that as soon as you feel settled, they kindly ask you to leave.” However, he also mentioned that he was excited about future writing opportunities.
Senior Alex Isaak then opened the show with a reading. Isaak, a friend of Loney, was among those who read the first draft of “Sea Breeze Academy” and gave him advice going forward.
Isaak read the opening to her sci-fi Honors project “Kepler 22-B.” The section she read was about two astronauts who had been sent to find life on another planet so they could settle it. Her imagery was beautiful and the tone was suspenseful.
TU theatre student Martin van Stipdonk then opened “Sea Breeze Academy” by setting the scene: season five of the dramatic, titular teen TV show. Van Stipdonk was the perfect narrator. He had that voice that every great narrator has: clear, concise, engaging and puts the perfect emphasis on just the right words. He was a delight to listen to.
The rest of the cast was just as fantastic. They portrayed their characters well and kept the audience laughing with jokes and interactions with the crowd. They even appeared in the audience at times and ran down the aisles.
The cast of characters was a friend group of teens at a boarding school in Southern California. Male protagonist Matthew Flynn was the popular, funny guy who kept the group together. Mitchell Shorey played Flynn. He struck the balance between Flynn becoming self-aware but also being a teenage boy at an elite boarding school. His confused facial expressions especially sold the character.
Opposite to Flynn was the main female protagonist, Brooklyn Rivers, the popular pretty girl played by Emily Peterson. Peterson was delightful as the blonde, preppy Rivers. She played her as someone who was popular but didn’t come across as bratty. I especially loved every time she said, “Blazer, registered trademark,” with hilarious inflection that managed to be funny every time.
Jourdon White played with the stereotypes of the comedic black sidekick as Chris Carmichael. The other guy in the group was spoiled-rich-kid Rhys Underwood, played by Nicholas Mueller. Mueller played the epitome of the oblivious white guy, with the annoying dudebro accent and everything.
The other girls in the group were aspiring actress Virgo Torres (who loves shoes), played by Stasha Cole, and the quirky smart girl who falls for Rhys, Liss Williams, who was played by Hannah Triplett.
Tyler McCoy was an audience favorite as Dean of Students Charles Fischer. The audience laughed uproariously at his comments about the inner workings of the school that perhaps paralleled the university’s own approach to running an educational institution.
The reading showcased Loney’s humorous work, as well as his love for puns. The audience chuckled at the recurring joke of “registered trademark” after each mention of particular products, as brand recognition is now omnipresent in modern television.
Loney also namedropped university professors in his novel. It was fun to catch the inside jokes only TU students would get like the aptly named Parssinen Hall or the G. M. Jenkins administration building, among others.
The concert reading was a delight from beginning to end. All of the actors were fantastic and displayed great talent, whether they were on stage for only a scene or the whole performance.
I was so delighted and intrigued by the story, I even bought a copy of the novel afterward because I wanted to see what happened next. I especially loved that this event was created in partnership between the creative writing and theatre departments. I look forward to hopefully seeing more collaborations such as this in TU’s future.