Theatre at AACC pokes fun at show business for spring performance


Raquel Hamner and Roxanne Ready

Theater Department students are performing a double-feature comedy, including a student-written musical revue, for their spring semester production.

Dr. AnnMarie Saunders, a performing arts professor, and Jonas Pallaro-Sonneborn, a third-year creative-writing student, are directing “The Actor’s Nightmare” and “Other Stage Dreams.” Together, the two plays form an evening of “theater about theater,” according to Sean Urbantke, the program coordinator for the Theater Department.

“This is a show about all of the fun things that go into putting a theater production,” said Saunders. “There’s theater jokes but there’s still plenty of stuff that’s really funny for people just coming to watch and see how it all plays out.”

According to Urbantke, this is the first time AACC’s Theater Department has put on a double-feature since he started working at the college in 2011.

Together, the shows will take the audience along for a comedic look both at an actor’s worst nightmares made reality and at the thrilling experiences that make theater worth all the worries.

In “The Actor’s Nightmare”—written by Christopher Durang and first performed in 1981—the main character, George, wakes up 10 minutes before he is supposed to perform and forgets who he is, all his lines and even the show he’s about to perform.

“‘The Actor’s Nightmare’ is the quintessential nightmare for a performer,” said Urbantke. He called it “the actor’s version of the [common] nightmare about being naked.”

Pallaro-Sonneborn wrote the second act, “Other Stage Dreams,” for this show. The act is a musical revue—a concert with a loose plot not directly tied to the meaning of the music—about auditioning for a play.

“‘Other Stage Dreams’ is sort of the compliment [to “The Actor’s Nightmare”],” Urbantke said. “So if [Act One] is the nightmare, what’s the fun side? Why do people keep doing this? That is the audition process.”

This is Pallaro-Sonneborn’s second time authoring a revue; he wrote his first in his senior year of high-school.

“We had the idea of an audition from the start,” Pallaro-Sonneborn said. “[It was] just a matter of deciding on what order for the songs and what jokes to use.”

Pallaro-Sonneborn added that he is especially pleased that coincidentally, “most songs in the show have some little baked-in connections,” such as phrases used in one that happen to be repeated in another.

Andrea Arends, a first-year theater student, designed the costumes. She said she added elements to each costume to emphasize the dream-like feeling of the show.

“Not to spoil the show, but something I’m doing for George is making his costume too small,” Arends said.

The performance will be held in HUM 112. Opening night is Friday April 20, with shows also on Saturday and Sunday as well as the weekend of April 27.

General admission is $20; staff, faculty, and seniors tickets cost $15; and students can buy their tickets in advanced for $10 at the box office before April 20. After April 20, student tickets will go up to $15, as well.

Visit the April Performing Arts calendar at for a complete schedule of performances.