To be or not to be… part of Villanova theatre

Andrew Petsche

Villanova is currently regarded as one of the top 25 business schools in the country, houses the reigning NCAA Division I FCS and women’s track and field Champions and was recently named a “Cool School” by the Sierra Club.

In fact, there is so much to be proud of here on campus, that some of the school’s most prestigious groups of individuals are occasionally overlooked, including one graduate program that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and has been nominated for an impressive 50 awards of excellence since 1995.

That program is, of course, Villanova Theatre, and those award nominations have resulted in six Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, the highest form of recognition a theatre department can obtain from the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. The program also offers an undergraduate minor. 

Since its adaptation from an undergraduate club to a graduate program in 1958,Villanova Theatre has, in most years, had a four-play season. 

In the organization’s most recent era, a “Season Selection Committee” composed of the faculty and staff of the graduate program, as well as two student representatives, have worked together to decide which plays will be performed. These four plays typically include three conventional plays and one end-of-the-year musical. They are usually performed in September, November, February and March.This year, the theatre program begins its season with Richard Greenberg’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play, “Three Days of Rain.” 

The three-actor play is as an intergenerational drama with underlying comedy. Each actor plays two characters — a young adult set in 1995 and that same young adult’s mother or father in 1960.

“It’s a really terrific play,” said Felicia Leicht, a Villanova graduate student who plays Nan, as well as Nan’s mother Lena in “Three Days of Rain.” 

“It’s very easy to relate to — it’s about family, relationships and misunderstandings, and absolutely commonplace human beings that everyone has to deal with.”

Leicht has been working with felloww actors Dan Ciba and Tim Rinehart, both of whom are Villanova graduate students, since mid-August on the play. 

Though most theatrical performances at Villanova are prefaced by six weeks of practice, “Three Days of Rain” will be presented after a short and impressive four-and-a-half weeks of preparation.

Students can see the play beginning on Sept. 21. The play will run in the 180-seat Vasey Theatre through Sunday, Oct. 3, every day of the week except Mondays. Tickets for students are only $8, and for preview night on Sept. 21, tickets are free of charge.

Students who want to get more involved in the theatre program are in luck. 

“Yes, we are a graduate program, but we’re accessible to anyone who’s interested in theatre,” says Amanda Curry, the public relations and marketing assistant of the organization. 

Villanova Theatre holds open auditions for all plays, and students of any age can try out. 

Although “Three Days of Rain” had only three spots available for performers, the spring musical frequently needs upwards of 30 actors and actresses to complete the cast. 

The theatre program also offers work-study opportunities for students, which involve working on the technological aspects of the theatre.

Rev. David Cregan, O.S.A., a former professional actor and current director of “Three Days of Rain,” said he thinks students should get involved with the arts in college.

 “Oftentimes college is oriented toward getting a job,” Cregan said. “These are actually precious years where you have more time in your schedule to expand your horizons. If you can begin to develop an appreciation for the arts and for culture at this time in your life, it can be a practice that actually helps to inspire you throughout your career and elevate your humanity beyond just being a worker.”