The Lake Michigan College Visual & Performing Arts Department presents "Exit Strategy," Ike Holter's play about a struggling Chicago high school facing imminent extinction.
The production, with help from Ernie Hudson of “Ghostbusters” fame, will be staged at The GhostLight Theatre, 101 Hinkley St., in the Benton Harbor Arts District. Six performances are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15-16; 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 22-23; and 3 p.m. Nov. 24.
“Exit Strategy” was inspired by real-life events in 2013, when 49 Chicago schools were closed in predominately poor and African-American neighborhoods. It was the largest mass school closure in U.S. history.
“This play is exhilaratingly poignant and relevant to the discussions already taking place in our community," said LMC Theatre Coordinator and GhostLight Artistic Director Paul Mow, who is directing the production.
The story centers on a group of educators from fictional Tumbldn High School, who show up for the kids that nobody else does. So, when the school is slated for closure at the end of the year, and the weight bears down on the community, students and teachers alike discover their breaking points. Ricky, the vice-principal, has stayed on the sidelines for the teachers' previous battles, but now in the eleventh hour, he's compelled to step up with a plan to save the school. But does he have any idea what he's doing?
A special post-show Q&A panel discussion will take place at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, to explore the play’s themes and its community relevance. The panel features Sandy Feldman (M.S.W., Author, Building Bridges Across the Racial Divide); Bob Harrison (former Lake Michigan College President); Reedell Holmes (Principal, Benton Harbor High School); Marcus Robinson (Collaboraction Theatre, Chicago); Patricia Robinson (Interim Superintendent, Benton Harbor Area Schools); and Charmae Sanders (Operations Manager, Start to Finish, Lake Michigan College).
"“This has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me as a stage director. The cast and crew have all taken on such ownership of this piece and the relevance of its themes. I can’t wait for our community to embrace their efforts and feel their struggle as they tell this cautionary tale," Mow said.
The cast features Ray Ulrich (Ricky), Kendra Ann (Pam), Shane Blair (Arnold), Audiel Perez, Jr. (Luce), Brenda Matthews (Sadie), Linnea Martinez and Isabella LeClaire (Jania), and Landon Horne and Martel Burton (Donnie).
In addition to Mow, the production team includes LMC Theatre Lecturer Les Rorick (Set Construction), Susan Salas Graham (Assistant Director), Daniel Breen and Landon Horne (Stage Managers), Julie Smiy (Costume Designer) and Andy Sawyer (Set Designer).
Benton Harbor native, actor and producer Ernie Hudson ("Ghostbusters," "Oz," "Grace and Frankie") serves as Associate Artistic Producer. He has worked with the cast via Skype, giving them notes throughout the rehearsal process.
Tickets are $18, $12 for seniors, and free for all students with ID as well as LMC faculty and staff. To purchase tickets, visit the Ghostlight website or call (269) 252-5222.
For more information about the Lake Michigan College Visual & Performing Arts Department, call (269) 927-8876 or visit the webpage.
The cast of Lake Michigan College’s production of “Exit Strategy” features, top row, from left, Kendra Ann, Linnea Martinez, and Isabella LeClaire, Brenda Matthews, Shane Blair and, bottom row, from left, Audiel Perez, Jr., Landon Horne and Ray Ulrich. Not pictured: Martel Burton.