The Department of Theater & Dance at Minnesota State University, Mankato will open the show “Mothers and Sons” by Terrence McNally March 27 in the Andreas Theater at the Earley Center for Performing Arts.
The show tells the story of Katherine Gerard, and her return to New York to confront her late son’s partner Cal. The show is a sequel to “Andre’s Mother,” which McNally wrote 20 years prior.
The show is being directed by David T. Loudermilk, who is pursuing a master’s in fine arts (MFA) with a major in directing at the University.
“I was very familiar with ‘Andre’s Mother,’” Loudermilk said. “I used a monologue from it in high school and then actually continued to use that monologue and was moved by the one-act play. So, when I found out that Terrence McNally wrote a sequel to it, I was fascinated.”
“The sequel actually opened on Broadway five years ago to today, so it’s kind of cool that we’re opening this week because it will be the five-year anniversary of it opening on Broadway,” he added.
Loudermilk has been directing since 2005 when he completed his bachelor’s degree in directing from Catawba College in North Carolina. He discussed his favorite part of directing.
“I think being given the words on a page and then taking the magic of theater and putting it on the stage, creating a picture. I’m getting the audience involved for whatever reaction they have to the show by the time the show is over,” he said.
As part of that theater magic, Loudermilk put a unique spin on “Mothers and Sons”. Rather than being in the traditional stage where the audience is on one side, he used an “alley” configuration: a long, skinny stage with audience members on two opposite sides.
“The show, for me, is very realistic,” he said. “I connect to the script. I had some similar events to what Cal has lived through. For me, it was about the script, but it was also about the audience’s experience of the script.”
“At some point, you can glimpse across the audience and catch another audience member and have a connection with them and wonder why they’re experiencing the play the way they are — And maybe it’s different for you,” he said.
Loudermilk’s favorite part of this show is the cast. With only four actors, the cast can intimately connect with the audience in a way that isn’t possible in larger productions.
“Part of what McNally wanted in writing this play was an idea of generations and us understanding – even if they may not always be right – where generations have come from in their choice-making,” he said.
“We do actually have a faculty member, Christi Smith, who is one of the vocal teachers in the theater department. She plays Mrs. Gerard. Then we have an MFA actor and a BFA actor, and then we have a young man from the community who plays Bud, our 8-year-old son,” he said.
While “Mothers and Sons” does feature an LGBT couple, Loudermilk said that it wasn’t McNally’s focus, and that it’s far from being a “gay play.” Instead, it addresses relationships, acceptance, love and nontraditional family.
“For those people who identify with a lot of those themes, it’s a great play for connection,” he said. “And I think for a lot of the people that have trouble with some of those themes, it’s posed in a way that could really open your mind or be a springboard for conversation with people you may not agree with.”
“Mothers and Sons” runs March 27-30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Andreas Theatre at the Earley Center for Performing Arts. Tickets are $10 regular, $9 for seniors ages 65 and older, children under 16 and groups of 15 or more; and $8 for MSU students.
The Box Office is open 4-6 p.m. weekdays in the lobby of the Performing Arts Center, or buy single tickets online at MSUTheatre.com. Call the Box Office at 507-389-6661.
Header photo courtesy of the MSU Department of Theater.