Warhawk Almanac: Comedy, Community, Collaboration – 1968

            The arts have a way of bringing people together. This was certainly true for the cast of the 1968 production of “The Irregular Verb to Love,” performed at the University of Wisconsin Center – Rock County (now UW- Whitewater at Rock County) on August 2nd and 3rd. Having only just opened two years prior, this play was Rock County’s first collaboration with local community theatre. As a result, the cast for this piece was composed of theatre enthusiasts of all ages.

In Rehearsal, in the Janesville Gazette (Janesville: Janesville Gazette, August 2, 1968).

            “The Irregular Verb to Love” is an English comedy play written by Hugh and Margaret Williams. The plot of the play focuses on one mother’s meddling in the lives of her family.[1] The play’s main characters are Hedda Rankin, her husband Felix, and their children Andrew and Lucy. In the Rock County performance, Hedda and Felix Rankin were played by local community members Dawn Stephenson and Charles Niles. Both actors had ties to the Janesville Little Theatre (JLT). Stephenson had participated in many JLT shows, while Niles was the company’s director. The role of Andrew Rankin was performed by Janesville High-School theatre alum Terry Parr, and Lucy was portrayed by Eva Pawelek, a Rock County student. The rest of the cast was filled out by Rock County students Nancy George and John Miller and local community members Elsie Van Tassell and Georgia Dietz.[2]

Three of the players…, in the Beloit Daily News (Beloit: Beloit Daily News, July 27, 1968).

            Despite the cast’s varying levels of experience, “The Irregular Verb to Love” received raving reviews. In her review “Rock County Players Dissect Love Deftly,” Hermione Knapp praised all aspects of the play. According to Knapp, the casting choices perfectly fulfilled each role and brought the play to life. Director Judith Forusz kept the play fast-paced and exciting, even as the plot relied more on conversation than action. Furthermore, Knapp only had compliments for the play’s set, saying Gary Lennox’s design “delighted the eye.”[3] Overall the play was a successful production that highlighted the beauties of community collaboration.

[1] Hermione Knapp, “Rock County Players Dissect Love Deftly,” Janesville Gazette (Janesville, WI.), August 3, 1968.

[2] “First Campus-Community Play Aug. 2 and 3,” Clinton Topper (Clinton, WI.), July 25, 1968

[3] Hermione Knapp, “Rock County Players Dissect Love Deftly,” Janesville Gazette (Janesville, WI.), August 3, 1968.

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