Mount to present original comedy ‘Saviour of Venice’ April 6-8

March 27, 2017

The cast of “The Saviour of Venice” at Mount Saint Mary College, front row, left to right: Langley Phillips of Newburgh, N.Y.; Meghan Hartnett of Milford, Penn.; Brian Lopez of Newburgh, N.Y.; Lindsay Ostrander of Wallkill, N.Y.; Lily Chimenti of Stony Brook, N.Y.; Danielle Petricca of New Hyde Park, N.Y.; and Destiny Bettica of Middletown, N.Y. Back row: Troy Watson of Marlboro, N.Y.; Montana Taylor of Millstone, N.J.; Steven Scodes of Yorktown Heights, N.Y.; William Biersack of Beacon, N.Y.; Nathan Herring of Pleasant Valley, N.Y.; Joseph Certa of Hauppauge, N.Y.; and Alexander Perlak of West Hempstead, N.Y.


Mount Saint Mary College’s theatre group will present “The Saviour of Venice,” an original comedy co-written by the director and cast, on April 6, 7, and 8.

The performances, one per night, will take place at 7:30 p.m. on the Whittaker Hall stage, 330 Powell Ave., Newburgh. Admission is $5, or free with a Mount ID. Seating is extremely limited and reservations are highly recommended. For reservations, call the box office at 845-569-3273.

“The Saviour of Venice” is the third commedia dell’Arte style (improvised) play Mount students have performed under director James Phillips, associate professor of theatre. But unlike the previous two, which were adaptations of 16th century scenarios, “Saviour” is the first to use an original plot outline. The students filled in blanks, Phillips explained.

“Everything that’s said has come out of the rehearsal process,” he noted. “This is a form that allows for improvisation, and certainly the renaissance productions of commedias would have a lot of improv too.”

The play has no script, even as the lines are being finalized during rehearsal. So after “The Savior of Venice” is performed at the Mount this April, all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.

Phillips views creativity as a form of problem solving, and said that “The Saviour of Venice” was a series of creative problems the cast needed to solve in order to unlock the true potential of the show.

“I’m really interested in developing the creative skills of the actors,” Phillips said. “Those skills can be carried into any career.”

He noted that among the cast, majors ranged from nursing and pre-med to education and accounting.

“Part of what this forces the cast to do is make decisions – and it guarantees failure in the rehearsal process,” said Phillips. “What I want them to get out of this is that failure is not the end, but a new beginning point. Failure’s only a problem if you give up.”

In pooling their creative talents, the cast created “a ridiculous physical comedy,” he said. “It is extremely fast, extremely silly, all built around a classic, romantic love story. But the love story isn’t as interesting as the ways everything falls apart – and then miraculously comes back together.”

Phillips says directing is one of his greatest joys as a Mount professor.

“Starting from an idea and figuring out how to make something that will hopefully touch the audience is a joy,” he said. “Working with students in this way, for hours and hours a week, is an intensity you just can’t get in a classroom.”