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THURSDAY, JULY 12, 2007
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Emily Parks, top, Jami Doyal, and Margaret Maloney as their high school characters in Calhoun's product-ion of 'Vanities.'
Courtesy photo
Emily Parks, top, Jami Doyal, and Margaret Maloney as their high school characters in Calhoun's product-ion of "Vanities."

Girls grow up in front of 'Vanities'
Calhoun play about journey
of 3 best friends opens tonight

By Andrea Brunty
abrunty@decaturdaily.com · 340-2448

If you could revisit your teenage years, would you?

Margaret Maloney, 30, said she is someone who didn't want to go back.

"It was hard enough the first time," she said.

In Calhoun Community College's production of "Vanities," you'll see three days in the life of three best friends — from high school seniors as cheerleaders in 1963, to college seniors as sorority sisters in 1968, to briefly reuniting as adults in New York in 1974. The play opens Thursday (see sidebar).

"It's been a journey at 30 to learn how to be a teenager again," Maloney said. "You forget what that's like. You have to pull from past experiences and go there again."

At least you don't have to go through acne on stage, said Maloney, who plays the conservative "ditz" Joanne.

Maloney and Jami Doyal, 34, who plays "rebellious" Mary, both agreed it's fun to be young again and build the camaraderie the play's characters have, but it took a lot of work.

The cast of three spent a month on just the first act. The actresses created subtext for their characters to help them find their long-lost teenage selves. Though 20-year-old Emily Parks, who plays Kathy, the "organized" leader of the bunch, didn't have to reach too far to find her youth, the different time period was something they all had to adapt to.

When The Black Box Theatre opens its doors to an audience a half hour before show time, the actresses will already be sitting at vanities on stage. As they put on their makeup, they slowly make the transformation from an actor playing a part to a character in the play.

During the two intermissions, the cast changes on stage at their vanities and morphs into older versions of their characters as music plays, chronicling the passing of time between the '60s and '70s.

The script, by playwright Jack Heifner, stipulates that the set has minimum props.

"It's the coolest thing I think I have ever done on stage," said Doyal. "Growing up four years, and changing the way you look ... Taking off things from your past and hanging them up ... putting the pom poms in the attic.

"You feel that change come on, from teenager to sorority girl to an adult."

Doyal and Maloney think the audience will recognize the characters as people they know and the stages they go through as true to real life.

"This is life. When you're high school kids, you're wanting (girl relationships) to be close, and people will relate to that," Maloney said. "Then you go to having nothing in common and (in the last act), none of us being friends."

"It's a comedy, but it's a bittersweet comedy," director Bill Provin said. "It's kind of a coming of age story."

"Vanities" is different from other plays Calhoun has done because it uses strong profanity, Provin said.

"The characters have clashes and use some strong words. It has more effect on stage. We're used to seeing it on the screen, but live it tends to be more powerful," he said.

"We've had soft swearing before, and we usually tone it down," he said, "but there's just no way to take it out" and have the performances be as strong. So, the cast discussed it and decided it would stay in.

What: Calhoun Community College’s production of “Vanities”

When: Thursday through Saturday, 7 p.m.; July 17-18, 1 p.m.; July 19-21, 7 p.m., and July 22, 2 p.m.

Where: The Black Box Theatre, Fine Arts Building, Decatur campus

Tickets: $10 general admission, $7 for students and seniors. For more information or reservations, call 306-2693 or e-mail whp@calhoun.edu.

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