Umbrella Theater had hoped to be the second theater company performing a new play by Thomas Kee, Mary's Little Monster, as the first production under Umbrella's mentorship program to encourage new theater directors and designers. Previously it was performed by the Spit & Vigor theater company in New York City and New Orleans, and were planning to open Off-Broadway at the Players Theatre on May 7th.
In 1816, the year without a summer, the poet Lord Byron is joined by a circle of intimates including the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, his future wife Mary Godwin, her half-sister Claire Clairmont, and Byron's personal doctor John Polidori. During their confinement with Byron in his Swiss mansion, the their massive emotions, drug habits, and intellects collide to produce poetry, conflict, catharsis, and legendary literature.
It is difficult for aspiring theater directors or designers to get that first production in which they are fully in charge. While they may have been the assistant director or assistant designer on a production while in school, in many cases they have never had the responsibility being the director or designer of a major production. This is especially true as theater departments have had to cut back on the number of productions and don't want to take the risk of a new director or designer.
Our Artistic and Technical Directors selected Haley McCormick Jenkins as the director and Katherine Jelte as the production designer, based on having worked with them in previous productions and feeling that they would benefit from the mentorship. They joined the project in late November 2019.
Auditions were held on February 15, 2019. While a number of excellent actors auditioned for the two female roles, making it difficult to decide, the same couldn't be said for the three male roles. After conversations with our creative team and the Director, it was decided that we would move forward with an all-female cast. We spoke with and he was enthusiastic for the idea, even mentioning our all-female production in a podcast interview he later gave.
The final cast was:
On March 3, 2020, rehearsals started with Sammee Jackman as our stage manager. As well as the cast, this gave us an all female production team. We were able to schedule six performances: April 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, and 18.
On March 12, 2020, we were forced to suspend rehearsals because of the Covid-19 emergency. We hoped to be able to restart after a short pause. When it became clear that there would not be enough time to rehearse for a fully-staged performance as well as build the sets and obtain the costumes, we considered doing the play as a reading. On March 24, we made the decision to cancel the performances.
We considered doing it as an online reading but the director, Haley McCormick Jenkins, was not available for personal reasons and some of the cast members had left the Salt Lake City area. We hope to present it sometime in late 2021 or early 2022.
Umbrella Theater's production of Mary's Little Monster
is supported in part by a grant from the
Salt Lake City Arts Council
The production logo was created by Lucie Rice
and is used with her permission
Copyright © 2020 Lucie Rice Illustration & Design