Freshmen jitters replaced by laughter, smiles
when URI presents The Big Break
KINGSTON, R.I .-- June 26, 2000 -- It's a musical. It's a comedy. It
has a message. In fact it has several. And when it completes its six-day
run in the month of June, 4,000 people will have watched it.
It may be the most well attended summer play in the state. Yet, you can't
buy tickets for it, and none of the actors have any professional or even
college-level theater experience.
The Big Break is a 45-minute, lighthearted look at the trials,
triumphs and trepidations of college freshmen through the eyes of those
who've been through it all-University of Rhode Island students. However,
these aren't just any students. The 22 members of the acting troupe make
up the orientation team that not only puts on a rousing show, but also introduces
its young charges to their advisers, course schedules, URI activities, and
of course the URI Fight Song.
At all six orientation sessions this year, it has been part of the very
opening moments of the two-day Family Orientation program at URI. Starting
with the first performance on June 12, through the last one on June 29,
the actors have been and will be greeted by capacity crowds in the Will
The play is now in its fifth year, said Jayne Richmond, dean of University
College at URI. The idea for such a play came to her while she was attending
a conference in Oregon. A play about the freshman experience was put on
there, and Richmond loved it. She was surprised when the director gave her
a copy of the script.
It has been rewritten to tell the URI story and it changes according
to the latest student experiences.
The play is set in a freshman seminar class at URI, and gives the incoming
students a glimpse of URI life through the voices, humor and accents of
such characters as Vincent Antony Baggadonuts, played by Glen Whitfield
Cumberland R.I.; Ben Throughit, an upper-class student mentor
played by Brian Clifford of Lindenhurst, N.Y.; Val Enteer, played
by Nadine Pagerie, of Oakland, N.J.; Jacques Strap, a student-athlete
played by Michael Jordan of Clifton Park, N.Y. and Seth O. Scope,
the class nerd, played by Titus Dos Remedios of Warwick, R.I. And
of course, Dr. Gene Yus, played by Dave Leveillee of Warwick, R.I,
teaches the class.
"We designed this to put the parents and students at ease,"
The opening song does just that. The entire group sings:
"God, I finally had it, I finally had it!
In High School, boy, we were so cool.
Now I'll never get it, I'll never get it!
I'm gonna have to start again.
I have to start it all again
Gosh I hope I find it, I hope I find it!
I hope I find the way to class
Will I find some friends here, brand new friends here?
I can't imagine what I'll do."
At one performance, the show had students laughing and smiling throughout.
Incoming students who snapped gum, and those wearing sullen looks and baseball
caps turned backwards were suddenly howling when Whinella Bratting blurts
out - "Oh my God, and this whole campus is one big hill. All the buildings
in the middle look exactly the same-whoever thought of that stupid arrangement."
Missy Home, from Kansas, played by Danielle LaChance of Cranston, R.I.,
says she came to URI to be a poet, "like President Carothers. I like
to write music too-here's a song I wrote about my first weekend here:
"I miss my dog, I miss my mom
But most of all my bed
I miss my boyfriend
Who stayed at home instead
I miss knowing where everything is
And who everyone was
I miss my dog, my dad, and most of all my bed."
But then Missy and Londoner Nigel Powers, played by Larry Perry of Cranston,
R.I., break into a song, and their own disco routine based on the disco
hit, I Will Survive.
"But there are people here to help:
There's your advisor, us, and Ben
Talk to your RA
You'll be OK.
We will survive!
This campus is so friendly
We just know we'll be alive."
Finally, the show winds up with a takeoff of the tune from a Chorus
Line, with the entire troupe participating to get the entire audience
juiced about URI:
"Rams! Thrilling combinations
Students from the 50 states!
Rams! Don't forget to mention,
Foreign students are great!
One class and suddenly this is the place for you
You know wherever you're going, you'll take this school!
Hey yo, give us your attention
Do we really have to mention, we are Rams!"
In the short span of 45 minutes, the worried parents and the apprehensive
URI students-to-be are right at home on the Kingston Campus.
A list of the cast members and their hometowns follow:
Dave Leveillee, Warwick, R.I.
Brian Clifford, Lindenhurst, N.Y.
Erica Cassidy, Southhampton, N.Y.
Titus Dos Remedios, Warwick, R.I.
Gina Dei, Mansfield, Mass.
Jennifer Wanat, Suffield, Conn.
Glen Whitfield, Cumberland, R.I.
Dylan Ryder, Bristol, R.I.
Amy Talati, Jackson, N.J.
Megan Murphy, Randolph, N.J.
Michaela Keegan, East Greenwich, R.I.
Mike Pelletier, North Kingstown, R.I.
Jessica Maguire, Coventry, R.I.
Nadine Pagerie, Oakland, N.J.
Michael Jordan, Clifton Park, N.Y.
Larry Perry, Cranston, R.I.
Danielle LaChance, Scituate, R.I.
Katelyn Martin, Arlington, Mass.
Ryan Earley, North Scituate, R.I.
Alberto Da Cruz, Warren, R.I.
Marierose Benoit, Bridgeport, Conn.
Tara Hutchinson, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
For Information: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-2116, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jayne Richmond 401-874-5505