No Longer Novel, Bluefish Cove Still Striking
Paul Brissett, Duluth News Tribune
November 8, 2013
When Last Summer at Bluefish Cove opened in New York in 1981, it was notable as the first successful “mainstream” play to deal openly with lesbianism.
Thirty-two years later, the nation has become aware that lawmakers, business executives, prominent professionals, entertainment celebrities and famous athletes are homosexual, and the play has had its prurient element diluted.
But, as staged at UMD, in a production that opened Thursday, it is still notable, but now as a beautifully crafted, warm story of love, loss and more.
Director Tom Isbell and a remarkably skilled cast bring the eight characters to rich and nuanced life in credibly ordinary but still compelling circumstances, at times with ample but gentle humor, at others with touching pathos.
It is the story of seven women, six of them paired, spending their summer at a Long Island enclave built 30 years earlier by a lesbian couple and a gathering place for lesbian women every summer since. Into this tight-knit group wanders Eva (Carla Weideman), who has left her husband but is so naively straight that, at a social gathering, she asks one of the other women “when is your husband coming?”
Soon, though, she is drawn to Lil (Emily Fletcher), the only unattached woman in the compound who has offered friendship — nothing more, because she has terminal cancer.
Playwright Jane Chambers’ script is no gay polemic, but rather a beautifully drawn set of characters, who just happen to be lesbian, living their various and varied lives. Indeed, other than when Lil recounts for Eva the brutal rejection the she and the other women have experienced from their families, and a brief recounting of the obstacles facing an openly gay woman divorcing a man, there is no lamentation about the burdens of being homosexual.
Instead, the story touches on issues any group of women, regardless of orientation, might deal with: menopause, honesty and openness in relationships, jealousy and the panoply of feminist concerns.
And the young actresses invest each of their character’s positions in these issues with total believability consistent with their personalities.
It’s all striking. But not shocking.
Homosexuality has been considered a taboo-ed subject since the ancient times, and 3,000 years later is when the world is slowly, but surely, starting to accept it. Thirty-two years ago, The Last Summer at Bluefish Cove premiered in New York. Written by Jane Chambers, Bluefish Cove is a story of compassion, healing, and loss.
Bluefish Cove opened at Dudley Experimental Theatre last Thursday with Professor Tom Isbell directing. With the combination of scenic design and music, the show was sure to be a hit right when the audience walked through the door.
In the show are 7 lesbians, and one very naïve woman who is very confused. Six of the women are together while Lil, Emily Fletcher, begins to find a newly divorced straight woman Eva, Carla Weideman, very attractive.
During the performance, certain woman began to shine in their roles. One actress who was very in-tune with her character was Katelin Delorenzo. Delorenzo played the longtime friend of Lil named Annie. She continuously stole the performance with her foul mouth and comedic timing.
In between each scene change or during a dramatic moment, different songs were played to define the mood even more than the lines before-hand did. If there were no music in between scenes, the breaks would have been awkward and very strange. There was also an incredible decision to bring on real sand into the Dudley Theatre rather than pretending the sand was there. The sand added so much more to the beach environment than the normal floor and a few rocks would have done.
In Bluefish Cove, one can experience the feelings of the characters with the actresses and can connect to at least one character in the performance. With gay marriage now being legal in Minnesota, Bluefish Cove is a welcoming play in Duluth.
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove was written by Jane Chambers in 1980. It tells a brief story of a group of eight lesbians vacationing during the late 1970s and the relationships they form with each other during a time period intolerant of homosexuality. It was the first quality mainstream play that talked about the issues that lesbians went through in that time period and thus is important in a literary sense.
The set design for Last Summer at Bluefish Cove was quite excellent. The cabin excelled at creating a rustic atmosphere and the amount of detail put into the cabin was rather shocking. The appliances, cupboards, and furniture looked like they came right out of the 70s which must have been somewhat difficult to acquire in the current day. The door leading to "outside" even had a little latch on the bottom of the door to act as a lock, something that almost nobody would have noticed or cared about but which added more detail to a stellar set. The set designers went above and beyond when they added running water to the cabin, something that wasn't necessary in the slightest but added so much depth to the set.
The lighting and sound were very well done. The way the lighting designer focused light on different parts of the stage depending on who was talking (such as focusing the light on people on the beach instead of those in the cabin to make it as if the people in the cabin weren't there) utilized the small space of the theater well and made said space feel larger than it really was. Small environmental sounds were utilized and synchronized well, like when Lil was fishing and when she casted her rod, you heard the line hit the water to the left of the stage.
The acting in Last Summer in Bluefish Cove was pretty decent. The tomboy Annie (played by Katelin Delorenzo) stood out the most since she provided much-needed comic relief to an otherwise somber plot. The duo of Lil (Emily Fletcher) and Eva (Carla Weideman) was adorable and seeing their relationship progress was heart-warming. The other characters were less noteworthy but still were highly beneficial towards the play. The one issue some people might have was remembering that the ages of the characters varied from assumedly in the early 20s to early 50s despite the young appearances of the actresses, but that would be somewhat expected given the ages of all possible cast members would be young.
Overall, Last Summer at Bluefish Cove was a very well done play with excellent set design, acting, and lighting for the resources the UMD Theatre Department had at its disposal. While not perfect by any means, it approaches it and almost attains it. There were no obvious negatives to the performance, and any mishaps (such as missing a line) were swiftly improvised with very slight negative impacts to the play.
The Last Summer at Bluefish Cove premiered in New York in 1980 and was written by Jane Chambers in 1976. This is a show about normal people who go through times of loneliness, love, friendship, drama, and loss. Yet the one thing that makes people pause is the fact that this show is about lesbians. This show tries to show how hard it was for homosexuals to live their life without being frowned upon in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s by telling a story about seven lesbians at their summer vacation spot getting an unexpected surprise by a person whose straight landing right in the middle. Although in the mid eighties and nineties was the changing point on how people viewed same gender relationships.
The first thing that stood out about the set at the UMD’s performance of Last Summer at Bluefish Cove was the fact that they used actual sand, and as the show progressed more and more things stood out. This set had appliances and cupboards that looked like they came right out of a time machine from a seventies kitchen. Although one thing on the set that it seemed like the actors struggled with was the stubborn cupboard door that didn’t want to stay shut, and it was a little distracting at times. Yet from the running water, working refrigerator, real food, and a realistic fire under the driftwood on the beach this set was able to help the actors suck the audience into the story.
This play was meant to bring out the sadness of someone with an illness that may be impossible to overcome, but it also shows the love that is received from friends and partners who willingly go through this journey with them. Lil (played by Emily Fletcher) did a great job at showing how one would react when they know that this might be their last summer, because they suffer from the ugly illness known as cancer. She did a wonderful job at showing how someone acts if they had cancer as if she did in fact actually have cancer. In the beginning, in the scene between Eva and her, it felt like she messed up a few of her lines and got thrown off a little. Annie (played by Katelyn Delorenzo) was the comic relief, but also the close friend of Lil’s did an amazing job continuously, effectively, and effortlessly made the audience laugh throughout the show. She stood out as one of the strongest actresses in this show from the ease she showed in each scene.
This show takes its name as another well performed show by the UMD theatre with its amazing set, actors, lighting designers and behind the scenes runners. No show is ever perfect, because there is always a possibility for error, but what makes a show close to perfect is how the actors in the show react to the error and play off it to make it seem like it never happened, and the UMD theatre did just that.
The UMD production of Jane Chambers 1980 play, Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, was a thoughtful and well done presentation on lesbian relationships and the universal themes of love, loss, and acceptance. In today’s world, the play is not as shocking or avant-garde in subject as it was in 1980. American society has come a long way on the acceptability same sex relationships. The core themes of the play keep it fresh, modern and relatable to anyone who has ever loved, lost or searched for who they were as a person.
The eight female leads were believable in their roles and, given the story of the play, their believability was crucial to the play’s success. The actors succeeded in evoking emotions from the audience on multiple levels by playing their characters not just as lesbians who reject society’s preconceptions on female sexuality, but as everyday people struggling to deal with the real life relationship issues of love, loss, divorce, hurt and acceptance. Emily Fletcher’s acting as Lil was particularly moving; heartbreaking but not over the top as she came to grips with her own illness, impending death and acceptance of Eva’s love.
The set and costumes supported the story line and acting without standing out over the story and characters. The balance of the acting, sets and costumes made the Last Summer at Bluefish Cove immediate, real and relatable.
The set was very well designed, creating the aura of a remote summer home and beach getaway. The house was small and cozy with humble, well worn furniture pieces and decorations one would expect to find in a well loved cabin. The outdoor setting of a sandy beach complete with rocks and a campfire was intimate while still allowing the characters the space to interact in simultaneous ongoing conversations.
While the costuming evoked the big hair and fashion of the 80’s, the period datedness did not detract from the bigger success of reflecting the personality of each character and underlining the diversity of the eight women’s backgrounds and lives. The flashy, bright gaudiness of Donna’s costume helped show her as someone more interested in money than true caring for another person. Annie’s free spirit was evident in the style of clothes she wore.
Chambers stated in a 1981 interview with the New York Times, “None of the women in this play apologize for being lesbians.” In 2013, this works to the benefit of the play as our world no longer judges people as harshly on issues of sexuality. The most conservative members of society might not enjoy a play devoted to four lesbian couples. For others, the larger truths in the play are universal and should resonate within every member of the audience. There is love in all it’s devotion and indifference. There is death and all the stages of denial to final acceptance. There is the search for understanding of self. If you attend a performance of UMD’s Last Summer at Bluefish Cove be prepared to leave in a more thoughtful and introspective state of mind.
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove opened Thursday November 7th, here at the Marshall Arts Performance Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Staring a cast of eight women all showcasing what it means to be a lesbian in the 1970s here in the United States. Last Summer shows the nation that celebrities, athletes, CEOs, teachers, writers, doctors, and even housewives are homosexual. Last Summer premiered in New York City in 1981 and was written by Jane Chambers. It quickly became one of the first lesbianism plays to be accepted by the public and continues to this day to be loved by many all across the United States.
The set design takes place in a cabin on the beach. The beach was represented by actual sand and the cabin was “missing” the front wall of the cabin. To show where the scene was taking place (inside the cabin or on the beach) the lighting was used. When inside, the light fixtures would light up and the outside would go dark. When on the beach, during the day, would be bright white and yellow lights would shine. And at night, the lighting would have a bluish hue to symbolize the moon hitting the water and bouncing back onto the beach.
Today the most of the United States have come to accept the fact that many people are homosexual and that they will be a big part of rest of our lives. The story of these eight women, seven are lesbians, (six of whom are in relationships and the main character Liv, played by Emily Fletcher, is the only single woman) and the last is Eva (Played by Carla Weideman) in the beginning just left her husband of twelve years to have a peaceful summer at the cove. Due to a pre-existing condition that limits Liv’s life she does not plan on getting involved with anyone new, but when Eva walked into the cove that plan quickly changed.
Not only does Liv see the beauty in Eva, who considers herself straight, but Eva starts to come around from her sexual orientation and the two quickly fall in love. Most of the play is focusing on the women trying to make Liv’s last summer absolutely perfect. As the summer progresses it is quickly reveled that Liv will not make it to the end of the year.
Most of the play is dedicated to love, loss, and growth there are moments when the troubles of being a homosexual in the 1970s make a strong impact. These include, telling your parents and loved ones, fearing for your career, getting nothing from your divorce all because you are a homosexual. The fact that the play mostly focuses on the non-homosexual aspects of the play proves the lesbianism is not as big of a deal that some people make it out to be.
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove was a unique show. The performance was held in the Dudley Experimental theater which made it a black box production. Having a small intimate theater made the show feel like the audience was hanging on the beach with the actresses. With such close proximity and an emotion packed production, it was inevitable for the audience to feel as much as the lesbians on stage did.
The show itself is set at a lesbian haven on the beach. Back when Last Summer of Bluefish Cove was originally produced, being gay was not as acceptable as it is today, so many women didn't feel comfortable coming out. This theme was relevant and scary to the ladies vacationing there when a straight woman comes to stay for the summer.
The shock to the cove was direct and it was neat to see the whole adjustment period throughout the show. The couples got used to this new girl throughout the play just as Lil was withering away. There seemed a sort of correlation.
When Lil gets hurt again though, it seemed obvious it was going to happen when it did.
University of Minnesota Duluth's production was casted beautifully. Either there was coincidence in the attitudes of the characters and actresses or they were just very convincing. Katelin Delorenzo specifically never was out of character. She embodied the best friend sculptress to the T.
Emily Fletcher as Lil didn't even smile at the end of the show but then again no dead girl would. The way she was able to embody such fervor throughout, left a teary impact on the audience.
It was obvious that Mikaela Kurpierz as Kitty was having an enjoyable time as her role. Her sneering smirk and graceful paces radiated with confidence.
Along with foolproof casting, the lighting was splendid. The way the small stage was lit for day and night transitioned in such an organic way. There was even a nice dim when the scene was on the whole stage but focus supposed to be on one aspect.
With the girls all on stage moving it could be a distraction from what is really going on but the simplicity of the way it looked and moved benefited them.
This time period could have been a hard one to dress and set due to many aspects being overbearingly notable. But due to the house being a beach house, they are more simple than an average house so the wood and small decorations blended quite well.
There were definite time period suggestions in the outfits, regardless of some items being seen again today. The neutral colors worked well with the beach scenery and simple set.
No wonder not all the Rush tickets were seated, this production was remarkable. It is a shame that more people couldn't sneakily sit on the stairs of the audience seats or stand behind them.
As if going into the theater with feelings of anguish was enough, one could only leave boiling with emotions and satisfaction in the six dollars well spent.
Gay and lesbian rights are a touchy subject right now, but imagine how controversial it was back in the late 1970’s. Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, which played last Friday in the Dudley Theatre at the University of Minnesota Duluth, delved into the topic of homosexual rights and more including disease, relationships, and how to accept change.
From the start, the play definitively caught attention. The scenery was beautifully made and fit well with the beachside theme, whether it was through the use of sand on the stage floor or with a whitewashed wood cabin. The scenic designer, Jenna Houck, helped create a fantastic set that was extraordinarily detailed, right down to containing different foods in the fridge. The most impressive fact was that she created this open cabin so that the audience could see, yet managed to hold onto the cozy, closed in feel that a real cabin would contain.
The lighting of the show was also nicely put together. The moonlit nighttime scenes were so well done that it almost seemed as if the moon were truly shining on the stage. The lighting designer, Eric Howe, was fantastic. The piece required quite a bit shifting lights to different places on the stage to focus on the main action and he managed this well while keeping the secondary action visible. Another great aspect was the gorgeous costuming designed by Katie Martin. The costumes all suited the period of the piece, yet reflected the interactions of the couples in a subtle but intriguing way, predominately through the use of similar color palettes.
The director, Tom Isbell, brought forth a fantastic show, and all of the actresses shined under his direction. He blocked the scenes so that they flowed together wonderfully, and each interaction added a new layer of depth to play. He took a show that had a lot of intense content to work with, and made it relatable to the audience. The play was a rollercoaster of emotion that Isbell kept in check so that it pierced the heart, but didn’t overwhelm it.
It was the acting of the show though, that made it such a treat. All of the actresses in the play were wonderful, but it was two young women who really stole the show. Emily Fletcher who portrayed the leading character of Lil, opened up the show as a single lesbian, was amazing to watch. Fletcher was so emotionally involved with her character that she drew the audience in. The character of Lil was this flighty, rough and tumble kind of girl, so when Fletcher shed real tears in her performance, it was hard not to lose it altogether. In contrast to Lil, was Kitty (Mikaela Kurpierz) the put together professional of the group. Kurpierz was fantastic as Kitty, keeping up the arrogant nature of her character at all times, but still coming off as likeable and trustworthy. Kurpierz provided Kitty with a nice stability that helped combat Lil’s chaos.
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove was an astounding, heart wrenching show. Everything about it was phenomenal, whether it was the beautiful set, the well suited lighting, the interesting costumes, or the supremely realistic acting. Tom Isbell put together a show that drew the audience in so well, that leaving Bluefish Cove was a hard sought task. The play drew from an understanding that life throws curveballs at everyone, and the only thing to be done is to keep going, making the best of it.
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove was very different and was written by Jane Chambers in 1980. It’s a story about eight lesbians vacationing during the late 1970’s and about the relationships they formed with each other during a time where people didn’t accept homosexuality. It was the first quality mainstream play that talked about what lesbians went through in that time period.
From the very start, the play was an eye catcher. The Set for the play was amazing. The cabin had a rustic feel to it and the amount of detail in that cabin was quite excellent. The appliances and furniture looked like they came from the 1970’s and that’s something that must have been hard to come across. The set had little details that pulled it all together that some set designers would neglect; the door had a latch on the bottom of the door to act as a lock. The set added the depth that the play called for.
The lighting was done well. The lights focused on different parts of the stage depending on who was the focal point of the scene. Small environmental sounds were also used at worked well with the lighting and they worked together in harmony and pulled everything together. For example, when Lil was fishing, you could hear the line hit the water to the left of the stage. The lighting also made the space seem bigger than it actually was, which is nice for the audiences propose.
Homosexuality has been around for a long time and we are now starting to finally accept it. This is a story of seven women, six of the women are together while Lil, (played by Emily Fletcher) begins to find a newly divorced straight woman Eva (played by Carla Weideman) very attractive. Eva, who has left her husband but is so naïve, during a social gathering she asks another woman “when is your husband coming?”
The play touches on social issues that could deal with menopause, honesty in relationships and jealousy.
The actresses did a wonderful job investing in their characters and their issues making the audience believe. Overall, Last Summer at Bluefish Cove was very well done. There were no negatives.
Introduction to Theatre
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove opened at the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Dudley Experimental Theater on Thursday, November 7, 2013. The play was written by Jane Chambers and originally opened in New York in 1981 as one of the first major plays to exhibit homosexuality on stage. Through the script, Chambers offers a more heartfelt approach to bringing homosexuality to the public through common, heart-warming themes rather than through force or anger. Though the aspect of lesbianism is a necessary element in UMD’s performance of The Last Summer, it is not the major theme as some are led to believe. It is rather a refreshing compliment to the grandeur and beauty of the main themes of love, honesty, friendship, and enduring hardships and the loss of loved ones.
The story of eight young women takes place on the island of Bluefish Cove, a secluded and charming resort built as a vacation getaway for lesbian women to retreat together every summer. The story begins with three young couples and a single bachelorette, Lil (Emily Fletcher), that have come to Bluefish Cove for many years when suddenly, the recently divorced, heterosexual housewife Eva (Carla Weideman) happens upon the resort in the effort to start her life over. After an awkward encounter at Lil’s party with the other six women of The Cove, Eva soon finds that she may see Lil as more than just a friend.
An incredibly realistic set, designed by Jenna Houck, brought you right to the heart of Bluefish Cove at Lil’s cabin with a cozy ocean-side cabin and a real white sand beach. The costumes and décor of the cabin delighted viewers with the charm and boldness of the late 1970s. The lighting of the play was essential in keeping time of events and setting the scene whether it was a scorching hot day on the beach or a chilly, moonlit evening.
The acting was the element, however, that truly made the performance one to remember and cherish for a lifetime. The love and friendship that was felt between the characters was strong and genuine. It was impossible to watch Bluefish Cove and not smile and let a tear go every now and again. The light and subtle humor of the performance is timeless and only drew you to relate to the characters that much more. By the end of the performance, the element of homosexuality was no longer apparent or even relevant. The love shared among friends and lovers was what was truly influential.
The Last Summer at Bluefish Cove itself is a timeless treasure and with the recent developments of gay rights in Minnesota, this performance was certainly welcomed by UMD’s community with open arms.
Student: Art History
18 Nov 2013
Jane Chambers’ groundbreaking play “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove” was quite a social eye-opener when it first premiered back in 1980. The University of Minnesota Duluth Theater Departments retelling of this not-so-old period piece shows us just how far our society has come concerning sexuality and sexual identity. The depiction of homosexuality on stage is no longer used for its shock value but is intended and is received instead as a commonality of society and life in general.
Jenna Houck’s set design was a beautiful but effective combination of complex simplicity and artful functionality. Upon first entering the theater, one is taken aback at the shear scope of the set design in such a small space. The cottage looked, felt and functioned like an actual cottage. The set naturally pulled the viewer right in and placed them on the beach as a silent witness to the story.
Michael Cochrane’s sound design played a large part in the believability of the setting from crashing waves to bird calls. Although unusual, his combination of period and contemporary music not only set the mood but also helped in connecting the younger audience members to the time and mood that the director was trying to convey.
Eric Howe must be commended on his artful use of lighting throughout the entire production. He showed not only an easy transition from night to day but effectively transferring our gaze from inside the cottage to outside. The subtle change in atmospheric lighting inside the cottage was highly note-worthy and affected the entire room.
From costumes to props and from onstage to offstage direction, the entire back-of-the house team should give themselves a pat-on-the-back. This dynamic team took hold of an idea and commanded its setting.
It is hard to make comment “within the space allotted” on each actors individual performance. But, if only one collective comment could be made, the first to come to mind would be astounding. The young ladies in this production effortlessly convey a story of love and loss through a seemingly mature set of eyes. They guided the audience through a story that started many years before the opening scene and right through to the end. They enthralled the audience and invited them into their characters life and left them in tears. Bravo!
The Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, by Jane Chambers, is a touching story of love and friendship between eight lesbian women who spend their summer on the northeastern tip of Long Island at Blue Fish Cove.
The audience gets to be up close and personal with the cast, consisting of eight very talented actresses directed by Tom Isbell, in The Dudley, UMD’s experimental theater. It is almost as if the audience is at the Cove with the women throughout the entire show, experiencing first hand their hardships, joys, and struggles of being gay in the 1970s.
Jenna Houck captured the idea of a summer beach house with the set design. The scenes took place either on the beach or in the cabin. Although the set was stationary and unchanging, it was extremely detailed with everything one would expect to find in a cabin. The detail ranged from notes on the refrigerator to an umbrella hanging from the coat rack. The beach was complete with rocks, sand, and an old stump. The beach was accompanied by sound effects, directed by Michel Cochrane. Sounds of waves washing over the shore and seagulls overhead added another level to the beach’s authenticity. Another original aspect of the show was the music that was played during and between scenes, adding to the emotional impact of the dialogue.
Eric Howe added to the set with the lighting. There were many different times of day to be expressed to the audience. The lighting of the stage let the audience clearly know if it was day, night, dawn, or sunset.
Each costume was alike in the way that it was from the 1970s era, but no costume gave off the same impression. The costume and make up designer for the show, Katie Martin, did an excellent job of portraying each woman’s unique, individual personality through wardrobe and make up.
We meet our first two characters, Lil and Eva, on the beach outside of Lil’s cabin. Lil, played by Emily Fletcher, is trying to coax a fish onto her hook when Eva, Carla Weideman, walks up to meet Lil for the first time. Eva has just left her husband and does not know that she has come to find herself in a community of lesbian women. Eventually, Eva and Lil fall in love, but Lil waits as long as she possibly can to mention to Eva that she has terminal cancer.
All of the actresses were very convincing, never breaking character. Throughout the show, the actresses really gave the audience the impression of long, sincere friendships that come together to form an intricate web of relationships. The script was well written with dialogue that was real and the actresses kept it as such. There were many parts in the show that could have been over dramatic or over done, but the cast kept it raw and down to earth.
The Last Summer of Bluefish Cove touches a subject that has been quite hush-hush until recently. This show lets outsiders into the lives of members of the gay community and was done very well.
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, premiered in December of 1980, is a play written by Jane Chambers that brings the drama of relationships to a group of gay women one summer. The play, put on by UMD, utilized a small theater pace, Dudley Experimental Theater, which gave we the viewers a sense that we were on the water, watching these events unfold on the beach.
The set of the play, which utilized the black box setting well, had many elements that stood out to me. The bathroom area, located in the back of the stage, was constructed in a way that from the audience it looks as if the room extends backstage. This element really helped give the illusion that they were actually moving throughout the cabin when they entered the bathroom. Also, another element of the set that stood out to me was the sand on the stage floor. This sand was a nice touch to the set because it truly accomplished the goal to convince viewers that they were vacationing at a beach; right when I walked into the theater I knew that the play took place at a cabin located on the beach.
Another part of the play that I thought was carried out nicely was the lighting and the sound. The moment that stood out to me with the sound was when the characters revisited the cabin after the main character, Lil’s, death. During this scene the characters were standing on the beach and the sound of the waves can be heard throughout the theater. The reason I thought this complimented the play well was because the sound of the water gave the audience a serene feeling, which complimented the fact that the scene was suppose to be sad.
Lighting, as I said before, was also carried out in a nice way throughout the play. When the play was focused on the actors located outside the cabin the lighting switched from the inside cabin lights to the lights on the porch of the cabin. I thought this was done well because the way the lighting was used made the audience feel like they weren’t just stage lights, which helped we the audience escape into the fantasy that is theater.
Costume designing was a piece of the performance I believe deserves some recognition. When the characters were first introduced to the audience as a whole, I could definitely see which characters were couples and how their costumes influence their attitudes. For example, the couple, Rita and Rae, could be associated together because both of their outfits were similar. Also the character’s attitudes could be assumed by their clothing, For example, Annie, had a funny personality along with overalls, which suggests that she was a kid at heart. Also, Dr. Kitty, had an abrasive attitude along with strong lines and a sort of formality in her costume, which complemented her character’s supreme being attitude.
Overall I thought the play was very intriguing. A great set, which brought you close to the performance, along with a great cast made for a very entertaining show. They way the actors delivered their lines and really grasped the characters was bar none the best part of the play, which brought many to tears.
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove
Intro to Theatre
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove opened on Thursday, November 7 in the Dudley Experimental Theatre at the University of Minnesota Duluth. It was written by Jane Chambers but directed by Tom Isbell. It was a very unique play as it was about same-sex couples and at the time, that was frowned about. It took place at a summer cabin where the three lesbian couples and the lesbian Lil (Emily Fletcher) would go to get away from the worlds discriminatory remarks. The set was very meticulous. It felt like the audience was on a pontoon floating by watching the summer of these girls unravel into the humorous but tragic play.
The couples had many hardships throughout the summer, but those had to be put aside as it was Lil’s last summer due to cancer. Each couple handled conflicts differently and each relationship itself was unalike. Kitty Cochran (Mikaela Kurpierz) would yell at Rita (Vanessa Barr) to be quiet. Their relationship was aggressive. Rita was constantly trying to throw the spotlight on Kitty’s success. Kitty, however, didn’t always accept it and told Rita to shut up occasionally. Annie (Katelin Delorenzo) and Rae (Elise Benson) were the entertaining couple. They handled encounters with comedy. One would “poke” at the other or they would playfully hit each other on the behind. They were constantly messing around with each other. It was never a dull moment with Annie and Rae. They even provided most of the humor found in this play because of the way they handled their problems. However, if the audience wasn’t paying close attention, the one-liners were missed and there was a sort of awkward silence. Sue (Sarah Rabe) and Donna (Brittany Mingo) were the “odd” couple. Sue was the rich one while Donna was “the mooch”. This couple did not handle conflict in a successful way and separated by the end due to unhappiness with the other. Lil was single and didn’t have much time left to live. However, with the time she was given, she chose to spend it at the cove with the girls. She meets her soon-to-be lover, Eva (Carla Weideman). Eva realizes she’s lesbian when she shares a kiss with Lil. Their relationship was extremely intense as Lil didn’t share with Eva her cancer until it was too late.
The play left many in tears with the ups and downs of everything and the believableness of every aspect. At one point, Eva is left wondering what is happening when Lil drops to the sand one evening. Unfortunately, Weidemans reactions weren’t entirely believable as the rest of the cast was crying and she was barely tearing up. Lil is brought back after being hospitalized and spends the rest of her time with Eva and her friends are left angered. They must accept it. Her time left should be spent with the ones she loves and they come to realize that when Rae says, “It’s her summer. Let her spend it how she wants to.” Lil leaves Eva with one last kiss and a summer to never forget.
The audience was left with tears and sorrow. One thing left with audience: never take for granted the time spent on earth and always tell loved ones how much they are loved.
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove
Introduction to Theater
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove is a dramatic comedy that holds the heart. Written by Jane Chambers, the story takes place during one summer in a place called Bluefish Cove. Three couples made up of homosexual women use this summer home to get away from all the discrimination faced in their culture. The production was done in the Dudley Theater on the UMD campus and featured a highly detailed set. Each girl faced their own challenges as they developed throughout the performance. Although they all face difficulties, the main character Lil, played by Emily Fletcher, faced the greatest challenge of them all. A quarter though the play, the audience finds out that Lil unfortunately has cancer and is trying to enjoy possibly her last summer.
The stage was put together in such detail it allowed the audience to see inside the cabin while still allowing vision of the outside. Since the Dudley Theater is a black box theater, there was full room for creativity. It was impressive to see how an empty room was transformed into something wonderful. The cabin was used by the actors in such a natural way, which made it feel like it was just some girls out for a good time.
The couples themselves were very dynamic and each member of the couples fed off each other. The first couple was Annie and Rae, who provided the comic relief for the play. Annie, played by Katelin Delorenzo, was the perfect sitcom actor. Filling in jokes when needed and still being a supporting character, she remained Lil’s best friend till the end. The two would never fight but always poked and prodded at each other. The next couple was between Kitty and Rita. Complete opposites, Kitty was the brains which Rita lacked a brain. Vanessa Barr and Mikaela Kurpierz, respectively were able to fill the shoes of the characters and were very believable. Rita would always say what was on her mind and didn’t have a filter for the situations that she was put though. The last couple was between Sue and Donna who also were opposites, but in a different way. Sue had a large amount of wealth at her disposal and Donna was more than willing to receive it. Sarah Rabe took the role of Sue and made it seem like she wanted more than just money. Her character was looking for love and thought that she had found it in Donna. To the audience, it seemed that all Donna was interested in was the money. Each character had their weaknesses, but it seemed that their other half was able to fill in the gap. The final couple that become closer as the play went on was between Lil and Eva. Running away from her previous life, Eva was looking to get away and start anew. She stays with Lil for the summer and ends up falling in love. Her character was very well designed but wasn’t executed very well. She was played by Carla Weideman, and didn’t seem emotionally believable at times. When the play reached its climax, it seemed that everyone in the play was crying, except Eva. She was directly affected by the tragic loss of her lover but didn’t seem to show it.
All together the play’s set was extremely well done and detailed, the actors worked off each other which allowed for a fluid story to be told, and the plot was strong enough to put the audience in tears. It was a wonderful piece directed by Tom Isbell who put much effort into making the show such a success. It was enough to make an unforgettable night and one to highly recommend.
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove
Introduction to Theatre
This month, the UMD Department of Theatre presented a comedic tragedy about the hardships of secret lesbian relationships. Written by Jane Chambers, this piece was originally produced in New York City in 1980 and has been appreciated by sold out audiences all over the world. Last Summer at Bluefish Cove is a controversial and relevant play as today, gay marriage rights are being powerfully fought for. Director Tom Isbell said that this play “doesn’t just tell the story of eight particular women, it also tells the stories of many more: all those who’ve had to deal secretly with their sexual identity/orientation or who’ve suffered prejudice, discrimination, and sometimes even violence along the way”. Many elements of UMD’s production of Last Summer at Bluefish Cove made it an emotionally powerful play that was worth seeing.
All eight actresses presented their talents of embodying their characters by using different tones of voice and body language. Mikaela Kurpierz displayed tall posture and poise as she played Kitty, the feminist writer and former doctor associated with Rita. Vanessa Barr was helpful and polite as Rita, Kitty's secretary. Elise Benson played a gentle, housewife-type woman named Rae. Katelin Delorenzo demonstrated masculine posture as she played Annie, the tomboy who was involved with Rae. Sue, played by Sarah Rabe, was older and had mostly self-conscious body language. Brittany Mingo played Donna, who was the young, spoiled one involved with Sue.
The main lovers, Lil and Eva, were played by the talented Emily Fletcher and Carla Weideman. Fletcher used a wide range of strong and believable emotions such as stubbornness, love, and heartbreak. She was able to hide the fact that Lil had cancer at first, but as time went on, Fletcher revealed the secret to the audience as Eva remained unaware. Wiedeman used joyful and energetic approaches. At the end of the play, she transformed to feelings of betrayal and loss by crying and having slothful body language. Fletcher and Weideman were both outstanding at creating believable characters and evoking emotions on queue.
Scenic design by Jenna Houck placed this tragedy in a beach-side cabin in the 1980s. There was a very clear distinction between inside Lil’s cabin and outside on the beach. Behind a beach made of real sand stood a raised stage containing 1980s textile patterns, wall décor, lamps, and the style of kitchen cabinets. Overall, the set seemed to create a very spacious and comfortable atmosphere for the audience and the actresses.
The 1980s makeup and costume designs by Katie Martin seemed to present each characters’ individuality well. Delorenzo’s character Annie wore an untucked plaid shirt, high-waisted jean shorts, and a messy side-braid to assist her masculine entity. Rae (Benson), Annie’s lover, wore a traditional style dress to represent her housewife position. Donna was dressed in brighter colors and more vivid patterns than her lover Sue. Lil wore baggy denim to represent her laid-back attitude. Eva’s costuming was more feminine and formal to follow her perky attitude. The costumes of this production helped express the personalities of the ladies involved in this heartbreaking story.
UMD’s production of Last Summer at Bluefish Cove respectfully demonstrated the heartaches of gay life in the 1980s. Tom Isabell’s direction showed the universality of these women’s journeys regardless of their sexual orientation as well. UMDs Department of Theatre did an excellent job of taking its audience through a journey of friendship and love that created laugher, tears, and reflections of the truly important things in life.
The Last Summer at Bluefish Cove tells the story of eight lesbians spending their summer at Bluefish Cove, a resort town along the northeastern coast of Long Island, in the late 1970s. The Last Summer at Bluefish Cove is considered to be the first mainstream play to openly and honestly depict lesbian relationships. Although The Last Summer at Bluefish Cove has lost it’s initial “shock value” that most likely came with the play when it was originally performed in the 1980s due to its taboo subject. On the other hand, this does not take away from the presentation of the main themes on how love, healing, and loss affect all relationships regardless of sexual orientation. Additionally, The Last Summer at Bluefish Cove still has the viewer pause and think about how much the general public has progressed in regards to GLBT relationships over the 3 decades since this play opened.
The set design for The Last Summer at Bluefish Cove skillfully done. The cabin successfully created a rustic atmosphere for the small, beachfront cabin. What really helped create the rustic feel were the appliances (notably the refrigerator), cabinetry, furniture, and décor, all of which looked like they were from the 1960s and 1970s. Not only did the interior details of the cabin help create a rustic feel but also the chipped and weathered wood along the exterior walls of the cabin helped create the desired look. Another important detail was the use of actual sand placed around the cabin and the rocks (some real and some fake) to help create the feel of a natural beach that would be found along the coast of Long Island.
The lighting and sound design choices were also done well. The choices made Eric Howe and Michael Cochrane were subtle, yet they effectively directed the viewers to what playwright Jane Chambers intended. Most of the lighting choices were used to highlight a conversation between one or two actors while the rest of the actors were in a non-lighted part of the stage. This technique was often used when two characters were having a discussion outside while people were working in the kitchen or vice versa. Most of the sound choices were mostly environmental sounds, such as the sound of a bobber hitting the water or sound of waves crashing onto the shore.
Overall, the acting was good and the actors effectively portrayed their characters and the emotions they were to bring forward. Watching Eva (Carla Weideman) enter as a slightly naïve woman that just left her husband learn more about Bluefish Cove and its importance to the characters was humorous, especially in the beginning when she painfully didn’t know much about the others or herself. Although the other characters had minor roles, they displayed the inner conflicts between couples and how it can relate to the viewer. Katelin Delorenzo played the spunky tomboy, Annie, and provided the much needed comic relief to the somber plot. Witnessing the beginning and advancement of Lil (Emily Fletcher) and Eva’s relationship was heart-warming.
The Last Summer at Bluefish Cove may have been considered a more edgy play when it was first produced than today when more people are accepting of same-sex relationships. It provided a beneficial look into the fears many same-sex couples had to face, and in some cases still do face on a daily basis due to the views of the community around them. The play’s focus on the realities of the character’s relationships may have helped clear the stigma around same-sex relations (that they are “worse” or very different from heterosexual relationship) for some viewers but for others it reiterated something they already knew. UMD’s Theatre Department did an excellent job displaying the main messages of the play and all the laughs, smiles, and tears that go along with it.
In the rush of life and everybody worrying about the things we need to do to get through the day, we often forget about the little pleasures in our lives that some others may not get to experience: a cool glass of water, the sun on your skin, finding someone who loves you and accepts you for who you are, being lucky enough to lay beside them every night before you go to sleep, and every morning having the chance to announce to the world, “this is the person I love,” without having to worry what could happen.
In the 1980s, and even today, many people weren’t able to say how much they loved a person, not because they hadn’t found that person, but because of their partner’s gender. It was ‘wrong’ for a woman to like women, and because of this belief many women lost some of the most important things in their lives. Parents and families disowned them, many were denied jobs and fired from current jobs. They were denied simple rights, like marriage, because it wasn’t ‘right’ in the eyes of the general public. Today, a lot of notable women who work in business and professional degrees, or women who are seen in the public eye on a daily basis are openly gay. However in the 70s and 80s, many women hid their secret from the world, not wanting to possibly ruin their lives.
In Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, we are brought to a place where these women don’t have to hide anymore. They finally had a chance to let go and be free, no matter their burdens in life, even if it was just for the summer. These women didn’t have to hide anymore, even when major roadblocks came in their way. They helped each other deal with their lives outside of their getaway, and helped them cope with what was to come. This beautiful work of art is still relevant even today, over 30 years after it was first written and performed.
In UMD Theatre’s production of this piece, only minor details could have been ironed out. This play is one with layers upon layers of emotional depth and character development, but some of the characters were hit-and-miss, and it wasn’t necessarily the actress’ fault. Two of the characters, Donna and Sue, were evidence of this. Sue (played by Sara Rabe) is a wealthy professional in an unknown field who has a few years, wrinkles, and pounds on her partner, Donna, and this is a major source of Sue’s apparent lower self-confidence. Donna (played by Brittany Mingo), on the other hand, is a young, healthy vixen who knows exactly how desirable she is, and she uses this power to rule over Sue to let her believe that she would be nothing without waiting on Donna’s hand and foot and buying her everything she wanted. Sue felt like Donna could leave at any time, because Donna could, but Donna liked having control over Sue too much to leave, in spite of her urges to find another. This is who the characters were supposed to be, but no one in the audience could have seen that if it had not been for a soliloquy made by Kitty (played by Mikaela Kurpierz) in the second act. It wasn’t completely noticeable in the characters on their own. No one could tell that Sue had lots of money from the way she dressed, and all that we got from Donna from her attire was that she seemed like the stereotypical blonde bimbo. It was a bit more evidentiary as the play progressed, but there were still many unanswered questions about these characters. It takes amazing critical thinking on the audience’s part to figure out who these women were.
In the early scenes of the play, some of the other characters, such as Rita (played by Vanessa Barr), seemed a bit forced and unnatural. Rita was always one to fluff Kitty’s ego, and it almost seemed phony at times, like she was only saying it to get on Rita’s good side. As the play progressed, Rita became her own person and learned that she deserved as much love as Kitty did. Another noted character portraying semi-phoniness would be Eva (played by Carla Weidman), even though Eva was a main character. Eva was meant to be an innocent woman who was naïve to the ways of lesbians, and while the character development attempted to draw Eva away from the innocence, the acting behind it did not. Weidman still did an amazing job, but the innocence of the character was overemphasized at certain places where this emphasis should have been left behind.
The character development throughout the play was spectacular for each and every character, and some of the actresses pulled it off spectacularly. Lil (played by Emily Fletcher) started off as strong and guarded from the world, not wanting to hurt anyone by letting them inside, and with each passing moment, we could see Lil finally understanding that any amount of life isn’t worth living if you shut the world out. As a plus, any actor or actress would be insanely jealous of Fletcher and her ability to cry on cue with no stimulation other than her own thoughts.
Kitty, a well-written doctor and long-time friend of Lil, started off as standoffish and arrogant, not so much in appearance but in intellectualism. Kitty wanted to let the whole world know how smart she was, but as the play progressed, she remembered that the point of becoming a doctor was not to let everyone know how knowledgeable you are; it was about helping people at any cost, especially the ones who cannot help themselves, even if it meant letting them go.
Annie (played by Katelin Delorenzo) was immediately a crowd favorite. Annie stood true to herself throughout the production, laid back and incredibly supportive, and Delorenzo only added to the magnificence, radiating more love and positive energy than anyone else on that stage. Rae (played by Elise Benson) became the person Annie knew she could always be. Benson grew with the character, showing that while women are allowed to love and fit into the role of a housewife, they are allowed to just lay back and let the work go undone for once just so you can relax.
This production taught the audience many lessons that can carry us through our entire lives. Acceptance of one another, no matter our orientation, is essential to living our lives in the best way possible. True friendships last forever, even if all the friends cannot be there. Happiness isn’t depending on another person, but instead another person can make your life even better just by stumbling into it. Most importantly, sometimes we have to learn to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and make it on our own. Who knows? The next big adventure could be waiting just around the corner…
Last Summer at Blue Fish Cove is a love story through and through. The production undertakes the burden of presenting two emotionally wrenching pieces of subject matter, death and discrimination. Jane Chambers’ script and Tom Isbell’s directing combine to form a tear jerking presentation that defines loves ability to survive across all boundaries. This being said, there is much credit to be given to the acting capabilities of each individual actresses.
The first characters introduced to the audience are Lil (Emily Fletcher) and Eva (Carla Weideman). The interactions between these two women formed the pinnacle of the productions emotional impact. Because of this, the production depended heavily on Fletcher’s and Weideman’s acting abilities. These two actresses were astounding in their delivery of the material. Weideman portrayed the naive innocent brilliantly all through act 1.
As Eva is introduced to the remaining cast at a house party, the residents of Blue Fish Cove defined her innocence by the one question “when is your husband coming?” The surroundings that engulf Eva clearly suggest, to the audience, that her co-residents of the cove are homosexual; however, Eva cannot see the underlying theme. Weideman was able to make this naivety believable though with what can be seen as, marvelous acting. She achieved this, would-be, innocence by using various gestures. When Weideman sat, she sat up right, ankles tucked, big doe eyes wide open, and carried on a big shining smile. It was as if she were a child attempting to please her progenitor. When Weideman walked she followed. She was like a puppy, clinging to Lil, because she feared losing her. Weidman was able to clearly define Eva’s personality in such a way that her actions were believable. To mirror Eva’s innocence with impurity Chambers’ produced the character Lil.
Lil is a “bad girl” with a shadowy past. She is the center of drama for all of the characters throughout the play. This is in part, due to the fact that she dying of cancer and in part due to her past promiscuity with the other residents of the cove. By the end of act 1 Lil and Eva are in a relationship together. Throughout act 1 Eva is unaware of Lils condition and it is only brought to her attention in act 2. Act 2 is where Fletcher’s acting truly shines.
Fletcher is able to bring tears to the audience with her acting abilities. She delivers a heartwarming and tear jerking performance portraying Lil’s emotional struggle with her imminent death. This was most notable when Lil faces off with Annie (Katelin Delorenzo). Lil asks Annie why she has to die when she has finally found true love. Cancer is a terrible disease and has a large emotional burden on the affected person and those closest to them. This being the case, cancer is a hard disease to portray. Fletcher seemingly blew this handicap out of the water. She expressed rage and sadness in an extraordinarily realistic manner. Fletcher cried, yelled, and moved as if she was someone fighting against her own death. Every motion Fletcher made from the way she held herself to the way she walked was convincing.
The production seemed to be brought together as a whole by Fletcher and Weideman. Fletcher’s and Weideman’s performances were astonishing. Other cast members did a fantastic job as well, but it can be argued that the entire play truly hinged on the characters Eva and Lil.
This being known, the play was marvelous. The production was truly held up by these two actresses. The skills Fletcher and Weidman bring to the stage alone make Last Summer at Blue Fish Cove a truly worthwhile experience. This is a must see production for anyone who likes rom
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove was a controversial, yet great show. Tom Isbell, the director, does a great job helping the actresses put themselves in the shoes of someone living a completely different lifestyle. The set, designed by Jenna Houck, embodied the homely feel when in Lil’s house, and the openness and freedom-like atmosphere when outdoors on the beach. Katie Martin, the costume designer, was spot on with the late 70s attire because she didn’t overdo it by making them “flower child’s.” Although all the behind the scenes contributors deserve quite a bit of praise, the actresses abilities to put themselves into this (at the time) controversial character is truly amazing.
Emily Fletcher, who plays Lil, did a phenomenal job embracing the role of not only a lesbian but also someone struggling with cancer. She treated the part as someone who is in denial, believing she can live her life to the fullest, even though at times she couldn’t. Being in denial made her character so much more believable because it gave the audience hope for the state of her health. This also made the character so much stronger when she finally accepted her fate.
Carla Weideman plays the role of Lil’s girlfriend Eva well, but the rapid switch from being straight to lesbian (or bisexual) made the character less believable. However, her constant reiteration towards always being who her mother and husband wanted her to be, makes the sexual orientation switch more credible, yet not as much as it could’ve been. Overall, she did a great job building herself into the independent woman she becomes throughout the show.
Katelin Delorenzo plays Lil’s best friend/old college roommate Annie, and as her debut role at UMD, she definitely deserves praise for the exceptional job she did. Even though at times it seemed as if there could be some hidden feelings between Annie and Lil, Delorenzo kept that fine line between best friend and romantic partner very clear. She acted sarcastic and funny during most of the show, but when it came to her partner Rae (Elise Benson), the audience could see her true affection towards her, whereas for Lil there was a certain comfort aspect rather than a romantic one. Overall, she did a fantastic job playing this role.
Elise Benson, who plays Rae (Annie’s girlfriend), was the character that acted as the “mom” role in this production. Bluefish Cove symbolizes a place of freedom and fun for all these women, and Benson did a good job keeping the ladies together through food, love, and friendship in a place where one could easily go off and do their own thing.
Mikaela Kurpierz plays a writer and closeted lesbian Kitty. She was also Lil’s most serious ex-girlfriend, which is obvious due to the clear affection Kitty has towards Lil. Since she is a well-acclaimed writer, Kurpierz acts very entitled towards her “celebrity” status. This is obvious to the audience when Kitty reacts in a very full-of-herself type of manner when Eva addresses her extreme liking towards the most recent book Kitty has written. Although her character is fairly abrasive, Kurpierz balances that side of her by the extreme concern she shows towards Fletcher’s denial about her condition. By doing this, Kurpierz redeems her self-righteousness, and makes the character seem much more likeable and believable.
Vanessa Barr plays Kitty’s partner/secretary Rita. Although the character is ditzy, her clear affection towards Kitty makes her cute and loveable. Furthermore, even though she isn’t the smartest one of the bunch, she keeps Kitty grounded and in-check of her cocky attitude. This makes her character very comical because of the intellectual contrast between her and Kitty. Sarah Rabe, who plays Sue, is the oldest of the group and is also dating Donna (Brittany Mingo). No one understands why Sue is dating Donna, because Donna just uses Sue for her money. Rabe does a fantastic job personifying this strong, independent women and the audience can clearly see this because of her demeanor and her snippy comments. However, she knows she is older, and just wants someone to love her. This is why the fact that Donna is using her doesn’t seem to bother her because she is very wealthy, and can pay for Donna’s stuff, as long as Donna continues to “love” her. Rabe redeems her character by leaving Donna, which also strengthens how independent she is.
Brittany Mingo, who plays Sue’s girlfriend, is basically the antagonist of the group because no one (including Sue) seems to like her. The reason Kitty and Lil broke up was because Lil cheated on Kitty with Donna, and throughout the show Donna shows extreme affection towards Lil. Mingo plays the role really well because the audience clearly did not like her, which was the point. She used her girlfriend, always flirted with Lil, and complained a lot, making her character very believable in a negative sense. Overall, the show was great and definitely deserved the standing ovation it received.
For the past two weeks, Last Summer at Bluefish Cove played to record-setting audiences in UMD’s Dudley Experimental Theatre. People turned up by the hundreds, with rush lines extending out the door to see this show, despite the fact that the extent of most people’s knowledge about it came from the eye-catching posters around campus, and simple word of mouth. All these people crammed into the small black box theater to experience this unique production.
With the limited space allowed the production team in the Dudley Experimental Theatre, and the requirement to differentiate between scenes that took place indoors as well as out, the set design had to take on a unique approach. By raising the indoor scenes on a platform and dressing the beach set with real sand, the illusion of separate indoor and outdoor spaces was well represented. This effect was also complemented by the different lighting techniques for the interior of the cabin and the beach outside of it. Though there was no physical separation between the two portions of the stage, the semblance of it is upheld by these choices.
The story is carried by a small cast of eight women, separated into four different couples. The main couple is Eva and Lil, portrayed respectively by Carla Weideman and Emily Fletcher. Their story dominates the narrative as their relationship flourishes from their first meeting in the opening scene. Fletcher especially sparkles in Act II, as she acutely portrays Lil’s heightened emotional response as she progresses both in her relationship with Eva, and the disease which puts that relationship in jeopardy. At the beginning of the action, Lil is distant and stoic, but by the time this play reaches its climax she displays a whole gambit of emotions, and Fletcher is able to bring these feelings to life in a very touching way.
Another noteworthy performance is given by Katelin Delorenzo, who plays Lil’s longtime friend Annie. She, too, is a character not given to overly sensitive rhetoric throughout Act I, and throughout this her comedic timing is spot-on. In the second act she becomes more sentimental as her friend’s illness grows worse. But her struggle is more internalized, and Delorenzo’s performance of a woman just barely holding back tears is as convincing as it is touching.
As Lil and Eva’s relationship grows, so do the other three relationships of the supporting characters around them, though to a much lesser extent. Because less attention is devoted to these relationships, their impact is less severely felt, but nonetheless they function as cohesive subplots for the main action. Mikaela Kurpierz’s character Kitty develops from an overblown caricature to a relatable and sympathetic individual, and her unbalanced relationship with Vanessa Barr’s character Rita evens out as well. Tempestuous couple Donna and Sue, played by Brittany Mingo and Sarah Rabe] find a healthy way to resolve their differences. And Delorenzo’s Annie and her partner Rae played by Elise Benson persist unshakably and offer the others their undying support. All the while, these actresses bring to life the complicated connections between each character, and the unique development of their mental and emotional states throughout the story.
In this show, the larger-than-life characters and storyline are not limited by the small cast size or the small set. Each actress has something unique to bring to her character and the show, which made it a booming success that sold out almost every night.
The play the Last Summer at Blue Fish Cove written by Jane Chambers originally premiered at the Actors Playhouse in New York City on December 22 of 1980 and closed on March 1st 1981 after 80 performances. This lesbian love story was set in the summer of 1980 and was the "first mainstream quality literary piece of its kind." UMD’s Theatre department and director Tom Isbell took on this play and made it into one I’ll never forget. Last Summer of Blue Fish Cove opened on Thursday November 7th and was performed here at the University of Minnesota Duluth in our Dudley Experimental Theatre.
One of the best parts of the play had to have been the acting. This all female cast did a great job with each of their characters. They all took very controversial roles and made it so everyone forgot about the fact that it was same sex couples and they had the audience focusing more on the relationships between each couple. My favorite couple would have to be Annie (Katelin Delorenzo) and Rae (Elise Benson). They added the most comic relief to the play and there was never a dull moment when Katelin Delorenzo was on stage. Another top performance was Emily Fletcher who played lead lady Lil really drew the audience in with her emotion filled performance.
Scene Designer Jenna Houck put together a beautiful set. Being able to design two completely different scenes, one being an outdoors scene (the beach) and the other an indoor (the cabin) and making them work and blend together so well is remarkable. The best part about the set was the real sand they used for the beach, it doesn’t get more real than that. Other details such as running water and food in the fridge are things you wouldn’t necessarily think would make a big deal when it comes to the set. These are the things that made it seem so real to me.
The play wouldn’t have been nearly as good without the lighting design by Eric Howe. The detail he put into it, such as the lighting fixtures in the cabin turning on. Also combined with the fading out of the lights on the beach scene when they went inside, are both simple yet it wouldn’t have been the same without it. He also did a wonderful job with the moonlight. At first, one would second guess whether or not it is really shining through.
Overall UMD’s cast and crew did a great job with this often-controversial topic.
The play “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove” was set in a much harder time for homosexuals in general. The great part about showing this play now, is that a lot has changed. Now, even though there are still those who oppose it, homosexuals can be together without all of the hatred that they used to face. In Minnesota now, they can even get married. The timing of this play couldn’t have been better.
The play is about the strife, troubles, and even the great times of a group of lesbians at a summer resort at Bluefish Cove. The play was held in the black box of UMD and had a proscenium type stage, where the audience was almost on the same level as the actresses. This helped to bring the audience much closer to the actresses and also closer to the characters themselves. The closeness really helped the audience immerse themselves into the lives of the characters and helped the audience get more of the raw emotion from the actresses. The stage looked amazing also and the design was great. I have to say that I was very surprised that there was even running water for the sink in the kitchen. It was a very miniscule and almost unnoticeable fact, but it impressed me that the set designer put so much work into the design to include that. Also the sounds of the sea were a great addition when the cast was outside of the house. The sounds really made it start to feel like the audience was outside. Overall it was a lovely layout and planned excellently.
The actresses did an excellent job in displaying the hardships of life as a lesbian. I mean by this, they show how normal the life is compared to others with just a bit extra of prejudice and others’ hatred. Emily Fletcher was excellent at playing Lil. Her calm and laid-back approach to life came through and translated well. She was great in expressing her sadness but stubbornness when needed too. I was most impressed by Katelin Delorenzo as Annie though, with her “butch” and loving character that was always there for Lil. Katelin also worked very well with her partner Elise Benson (Rae). They made a very believable couple and a loving one at that. The character that I didn’t prefer though would have to be Eva. Carla Weideman did play Eva well, but the character herself just seems like the person I would not like. Maybe it was just that Carla played Eva too well and my only problem was with the character herself. Overall the cast played a great group and showed the hardships of life very well.
After reading the director's notes, I noticed that the actresses had been talked to by the lesbian community around Duluth. I feel like this really helped them get into their characters and show some real reactions to life problems. I would definitely recommend others to go to this play whenever they can get the chance.
Last summer at Bluefish Cove, a play written by Jane Chambers, opened in Dudley Theatre at the University of Minnesota Duluth. This play is about lesbians staying at a summer beach house in Bluefish cove. They often have gatherings yearly and they are able to just meet up with each other and talk about the things that are going on in their life. Many of them are married (or in a relationship) except for one, which is Lil. Lil would typically be known as a “lady’s man” or a “player” because she is not really known for being in relationships, just hooking up with people but all of that change
Lil never really thought she would find love until she met this girl who rented a house at Bluefish Cove. Lil had gotten the wrong impression at first when she met Eva just because usually when houses are rented, they are to lesbians and Eva happened to be straight so it was weird at first. As the days go on, they start to fall for each other, which Eva thinks is completely weird because she never was with a girl before and she’s always talking about her ex-husband. Lil and Eva were very happy and thought life was just a fairytale, but the fairytale starts turn into reality when Lil is often reminded from her friends about the condition that she is in. Eva is unaware of what is happening to Lil and the stuff her friends are saying and when she finds out, it is a little too late. Death played a major role in this play, but it wasn’t the only one. Although one was lost, it brought many together. Tears of sadness were shared, but also tears of joy.
What I’ve enjoy the most about this play was the whole concept about it and how it isn’t like a play that everyone can guess the ending of it. It is play that bends rules and it shows the world another side of life. It also shows the struggles that people, like us have to go through in reality.
The set design for this play was very different from a typical play. Usually, a person would see theatres set up in a ball room, house, or just a generalized place but for this play, it was a hose set on a beach with the audience in the crowd as if we are out in the far seas. The stage made the rest of environment feel very welcoming and calm, kind of how the play turns out throughout its performance. Also, the lightening was excellent. The lightening colors helps determine what time of the day it is and it also helped set the mood to how a person may have felt at the that time.
I believe this has to be one of my favorite plays I’ve seen all time. It just shows people the struggles that people have to go through. Not everyone is accepted because of their preferences but in life, they don’t mean you have to go through it alone. There are many people who go through the same stuff as others. It’s just all about finding people who you can relate to and will also people who gives you more confidence in yourself as a person.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on November 8, 2013 9:14 AM.
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