By Sarit Perl, Contributing Writer
The Stern College Dramatics Society has announced that for their 2019 mainstage show they have chosen to mount a production of Jane Anderson’s Defying Gravity. Though in showbiz this phrase is traditionally associated with the defiant anthem that closes Act I of Wicked, this script takes the audience about as far from Oz as one can go.
The play is centered around the Challenger disaster — a failed NASA mission that resulted in the deaths of all seven crew members, including a teacher who would have been the first civilian in space had the shuttle not disintegrated 73 seconds after launch.
It was first presented as an Off-Broadway production at the American Place Theater in 1997, directed by Michael Wilson and produced by Daryl Roth. Featuring a small cast of seven, the play weaves through time and space to give the audience a glimpse of the world through the eyes of the Challenger crew, the teacher’s family, and even Impressionist painter Claude Monet. The enigmatic structure and out-of-the-box subject matter, as well as a cast that is wide-ranging in character but miniscule in number, makes it an unexpected choice for SCDS’s largest production of the year.
“To me, what made this show so special is that, besides… having this really cool theme about the Challenger, it has this real humanity to it, where there’s…humor and longing and introspection,” remarked Eli Azizollahoff, president of SCDS. “It brings the wonder of both space and stage together, while also bringing the humanity you really look for in theater, the pathos that everyone seeks when they go there.”
The show will open on Sunday, December 15th, with subsequent performances on the 16th, 18th, and the final performance on the 19th. Auditions will be held in 245 Lexington on September 9th and 10th.
Photo: Flyer for the SCDS production