Dylan Olive

Students in the theater department produced the play “Stop Kiss” in Fletcher Theater inside the Ordway building on Jan. 29 and 30.

“Stop Kiss” is a play that revolves around the love story between traffic reporter Callie, and third-grade teacher Sara who just moved to New York City. As they grow closer in friendship they eventually share their first kiss in Central Park, and a man who witnesses the kiss violently attacks Sara and puts her in a coma.

The story is told out of sequence, and the audience witnesses how Callie and Sara’s relationship grows and how they both impact each other’s lives. It follows Callie’s own personal journey including the effects that Sara’s coma has on her.

“I spoke with one of our professors and told him I wanted to be a part of more student-led theater on campus,” cast member Lauren Thomas said. “He gave me ‘Stop Kiss’ to read as a play he thought I would like, and when I read the play, I knew that this was the show I wanted to be a part of.”

After Thomas knew “Stop Kiss” was the show she wanted to pursue, she sought out her friend Kendall Uslan in directing because she knew they wanted directing experience.

This production had very minimal rehearsal time, so the cast and crew had to work hard and commit to their roles to ensure that the show would be ready by opening night.

“The rehearsal process was definitely a beautiful whirlwind for me, we started rehearsing last Tuesday, so in total, we will have completely put together a full production in two weeks,” cast member Grace Villegas said. “We had to put more energy and focus into how quickly the turnaround was from first rehearsal to opening night.”

With the rise of COVID-19 cases and new FSC guidelines, the production was halted and the cast and crew thought the show was no longer going to happen.

“We nearly canceled the show due to covid guidelines adjusting at FSC,” cast member Justin Rotolo said. However, the students were given permission to continue working on the production.

The cast and crew worked hard and diligently in their two-week rehearsal process, so seeing the show with all the elements finally put together was an amazing feeling for everyone involved.

“When we finally were able to get through the entire show with lights, sound, blocking, etc, it was the most electric feeling I have ever had as an actor,” Thomas said. “This cast and crew have poured their heart and soul into this production.”

“Working on this show was an incredible experience and I’m so glad that ‘Stop Kiss’ was my first collegiate directing experience,” Director Kendall Uslan said.

This production partnered with Allies and Women’s Advocacy Club because the show focuses on issues with the LGBTQ+ community, violence against women, and personal identity.

All proceeds from “Stop Kiss” were donated to Lakeland Youth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that works to provide a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community in Central Florida as well as provide LGBTQ+ history, classes, scholarships and support groups.

The audience was thoroughly impressed with how well the show was, especially with how fast they put it together.

“I genuinely loved the production of ‘Stop Kiss’, and I thought the entire team did a phenomenal job, especially considering the time restraint,” freshman Hannah Noll said. “I hope this is the starting point for so much more student-led work here on campus in the future.”

“I thought it was so amazing how our students came together in two weeks and created an incredible production,” sophomore Alexis Lowther said.

“Working on this show was an incredible experience and I’m so glad that ‘Stop Kiss’ was my first collegiate directing experience,” Uslan said.

With this student-led production, the cast and crew hope this will allow for more future theatrical productions that are student-produced.

“I’m so glad I got to talk about and represent queer women on stage and I hope that there will be more meaningful student-led shows in the future,” Uslan said.

“It provides another wonderful outlet for young artists to stretch out their legs and find out who they are, whether it be as a director, actor, technical designer, etc,” Villegas said. “It just gives us more valuable experience that we’re all so hungry to get our hands on.”


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