Barton Community College will present "Mass Appeal," its BCC Theatre fall production, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Dorothy Moses Morrison Chapel, located in Barton’s Fine Arts Building, F-157.
"Mass Appeal," by Bill C. Davis, is described as a funny yet compassionate play, said Erin Renard, Barton’s new theater instructor. "It’s a very moving piece about two priests," Renard said. She chose the play because of the small cast and important themes.
The play has only two characters. One is a seasoned priest who is well established in the community and in his congregation. He is very comfortable in his position, well liked and likes to keep it that way. The other is a young seminarian coming into the picture with new ideas about religion and about his own style of sermons. His ideas don’t exactly mesh with those of Father Farley, his mentor.
"We have this dynamic between generations," Renard said. "Despite these differences, they have a profound effect on each other’s lives."
She points out that both characters are flawed. "It makes it interesting because let’s face it we’re all flawed, and flawed people make the most interesting characters," she added.
Renard also likes the idea that she could "take the theater out of the theater building itself." The chapel is the perfect setting for a story set in a church, she said. "We didn’t have to build a set. The environment is already there. I think that will bring the audience into the play. I want the audience to feel as if they’re a part of the production, and certainly not passive, but an active audience."
The ticket price is $5 for the general public. Students will be admitted free. Renard cautioned that some of the material may not be suitable for children younger than high school age. Tickets can be purchased by calling Barton’s Fine Arts Office, 620-792-9391. Tickets also will be available at the door beginning at 6:30 each evening, but seating is limited to 65 per night.
Playing the two lead roles are Barton psychology instructor Randy Allen as Father Farley and Larned freshman David Burdett as young Mark Dolson.
Allen has played in many other Barton theatre productions, including "The Harvesting," "I Hate Hamlet," "Mere Mortals" and the musicals "Sugar," "The Wizard of Oz" and "South Pacific." Originally from Tulsa, Okla., Allen has taught psychology at Barton for 22 years.
Allen has also performed in the Great Bend Community Theatre productions "Wit," "Book of Days," "Ghost of a Chance" and "The Battle of Shallowford." The highlight of his acting experience, Allen said, was working with Martin Sheen’s brother, Joe Estevez, in the 2003 independent film, "Minds of Terror," filmed by Mark Adams, who was Barton’s video specialist at the time.
Burdett began his acting career when he landed the role of a cockroach in a production at his high school. Since then, he has performed in Larned High School’s productions of "Nottingham," "A Totally Teen Musical," "Larceny and Old Lace" and "The Curse of the Cobra’s Kiss." "Mass Appeal" is his first performance for BCC Theatre.
He is enrolled in theatre classes at Barton. In his spare time, he enjoys athletics and playing the trumpet. He plans to transfer to Kansas State University after two years at Barton. He says acting will always be a part of him, no matter what career path he chooses.
"Mass Appeal" had a long and critically hailed Broadway run in the early 1980s, directed by Geraldine Fitzgerald and starring Milo O’Shea as Father Tim Farley and Michael O’Keefe as the seminarian, Mark Dolson.