Do you go to college theater? Wiess Tabletop is great!

Hello Hamlet has to be Wiess Tabletop’s signature event. Alums come back for this production, performed every four years. It’s a musical spoof on Hamlet, incorporating melodies from nearly every Rogers and Hammerstein musical out there. But there are lots of other plays and musicals, and this year it was Aida, the Elton John version. Did you miss it? We made it on nearly the last night, and enjoyed the singing, the dancing, the music, the stretching of college student interests.

These are not professional performances. The Freshman One Acts are performed a mere 6 weeks after school starts in the fall. But they are not as tired or hackneyed as some non-professional shows can be. This is because the students have not yet settled into one way of acting, one role. This is what for me separates professionals from amateurs. A good professional actor, like my son Danny, is not at all the same from one production to the next. You might not know it is the same person. These professional actors get so into character, they are unknowable. It makes each production fresh, even with the same group of actors.

If a tolerable actor has a role he or she does well, then the first time you see a performance, it might seem up to professional standards. It is only with the next or the subsequent that you realize the actors each have only one real role. You don’t get that with the college students, partly because they are new and the group of actors keeps changing, and partly because they are young, and exploring their possibilities.

Every now and then there is a phenomenal actor or actress. David Nathan, now teaching English in a high school, is such a person. My daughter hasn’t acted much, but when she was about 8, she was Pippin in a production with Dave. She loved it, and was adorable. They switched the boy role for this little girl. When she came on stage she was so cute, there were gasps from the audience. Afterwards she asked me if I had heard that, and I said yes. But she thought it was for her stuffed duck, not for her!

My son, Danny, was in far more plays and musicials while he was at Rice, and continuing at Oregon State. He started with Hair, some great singing, a bit more exposure than expected when the lights came on at a nude moment! That great performance wasn’t at Wiess, but at another college, can’t remember which one right now. It began an enduring interest in theater for him. We saw him in Arcadia, All my sons, and missed some others. He’s the best!

We’ll miss Wiess Tabletop, Baker Shake, Rice Players, and all the other plays and musicals. We have no idea what Wash U will provide, or St. Louis for that matter, but are ready to explore.


Live music is a standard at our theatrical events.


Yes, we got Rick and Therese to come too, even though they are at Sid, and Rick just got outstanding associate there!


They sing, they dance, they perform, they entertain! They even must study sometimes!


Our master, Mike Gustin, as a dying king!


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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One Response to Do you go to college theater? Wiess Tabletop is great!

  1. janine says:

    i m a alumini of rice university,visit this lovely site.

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