UNLV’s student-run Second Stage debuts ‘House of Yes’

Updated January 18, 2018 - 6:40 pm

Hey, kids — let’s put on a show!

The latest example of this time-honored tradition: the theater students behind UNLV Second Stage, which launches its inaugural production, the dark comedy “The House of Yes,” on Thursday at UNLV’s Paul Harris Theatre.

The aptly named Second Stage represents the second incarnation of the former Theatre Student Collective, founded in 2014 and “handed off and shuffled around” since then, according to Noah Keeling, the UNLV sophomore behind the revival.

“Since 2014, they’ve done four shows,” Keeling notes during a pre-rehearsal interview in the intimate Harris theater. Last year, the group was on hiatus, with board members “graduating and auditioning for graduate schools.”

So Keeling made inquiries and discovered that the Theatre Student Collective, collectively, was only too happy to hand the reins to him. “They were like, ‘You can take it,’ ” he recalls.

Then-freshman Keeling approached theater graduate students Keach Madden and Nate Marble — who had experience as heads of similar organizations at their undergraduate colleges — to help revive Second Stage, which has about 30 current members.

“Life as a college student gets away from you,” Keeling says. “There was no real, established, consistent performance schedule.” Instead, “when someone had a passion (to stage a particular play), they would do it.”

That description also applies to Keeling, who chose Wendy MacLeod’s “The House of Yes” as Second Stage’s first production. “It’s an important script to me. I love it so dearly.”

Set during a literally and figuratively stormy Thanksgiving, “The House of Yes” focuses on a decidedly dysfunctional family that includes, among others, a set of twins, one of whom has a definite Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis obsession. (Not surprisingly, she’s known as Jackie O.) When her adored twin brother Marty brings home a — gasp! — fiancee, of whom his twisted mother definitely does not approve, the stage is set for pitch-black comedic chaos.

Likening MacLeod’s play to “an episode of ‘Gilmore Girls’ on speed,” Keeling cites its “delicious dialogue,” as well as its exploration of “the dangers of never being told ‘no’ — and unchecked wealth.”

Cast members also praise the play’s off-kilter humor — as well as the chance to participate in a student-run production.

“I’m pretty happy plays are happening,” says sophomore Errol Porter, a journalism major who welcomes the chance for “opportunity and experience, which are not easy to come by when you’re low on the food chain.”

That’s because undergraduates must compete with graduate students for roles in UNLV’s main-stage Nevada Conservatory Theatre productions, which feature professional actors, designers and directors working alongside advanced graduate and undergraduate students.

NCT “tries to instill professional union standards” because “it helps prepare you to know what you’re getting into,” explains senior Callie Maxson, who’s playing the troubled Jackie O in “House of Yes.” She’s appeared in recent NCT productions of “Peter Pan” and “A Christmas Carol,” but Second Stage provides “an even playing field” that’s “less intimidating,” Maxson observes.

Norma Saldivar, who chairs UNLV’s theater department and serves as NCT’s executive director, applauds the Second Stage revival.

“It’s absolutely essential to have students producing their own work,” she says, adding that Second Stage provides an opportunity for students to show “an entrepreneurial spirit that’s so necessary” in theater.

Along with allowing Second Stage to use the Paul Harris Theatre for rehearsals (which have been going on since early December) and performances, UNLV’s theater department is providing mentoring and “access to our shops and resources,” Saldivar says.

For director Keeling, “it’s all about the learning experience,” he says. “The biggest point of something like this is learning the importance of self-advocacy.”

Theater for students, by students

The student-run theater collective UNLV Second Stage offers a chance for theater students to stage their own productions.

But it also offers a chance for all students — and members of the general public — to enjoy theater without paying for a ticket.

When Second Stage’s inaugural production, “The House of Yes,” opens Thursday in the Paul Harris Theatre on campus, there won’t be a charge. (Although “we will be collecting donations at the door,” says Second Stage organizer Noah Keeling.)

“Part of my inspiration,” he says, is the fact that “college students are so notoriously poor.”

Keeling “can’t pay $25” for a show at downtown’s Majestic Repertory Theatre, where he appeared last year in the premiere of “Potter Plays,” one-acts inspired by the Harry Potter universe. As for attending theater at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, “that’s not even in my orbit as a college student.”

Beyond the free admission, Keeling adds, “so many students have never seen a piece of live theater.”

They have eight chances to catch “The House of Yes” during its performance run, which ends Jan. 28; Second Stage returns in March with “12 Angry Jurors,” a gender-blind version of Reginald Rose’s drama “12 Angry Men.”

Preview

What: UNLV Second Stage’s “The House of Yes”

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday; also 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25-27, 2:30 p.m. Jan. 28

Where: Paul Harris Theatre, Ham Fine Arts Building, UNLV

Admission: Free; donations accepted (facebook.com/unlvsecondstage)

Contact Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

Entertainment
Meow Wolf opening an 'otherworldly' art experience in Las Vegas
Meow Wolf opening "otherworldly" art experience in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Celebrate Margarita Day With The Hot Damn Margarita
Celebrate Margarita Day With The Hot Damn Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Yard House margarita changes color in the glass
The cocktail, as made by lead bartender Taylor Cole at Town Square in Las Vegas, changes from deep blue to magenta because of a chemical reaction between its butterfly pea flowers and citrus agave. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Black History Month Festival
Las Vegas residents gathered on Saturday, February 16, 2019, at Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd, to celebrate Black History Month. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
You Can Design With 3D Printers, Laser Cutters And Ceramics At Discovery Children's Museum
You Can Design With 3d Printers, Laser Cutters And Ceramics At Discovery Children's Museum (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Champagne vending machine at Waldorf Astoria in Las Vegas
One of only a few in the country, the Moët & Chandon machine at the Waldorf Astoria in Las Vegas is stocked with Imperial Rose for Valentine’s Day. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Las Vegas Valentine’s Day desserts
Mio Ogasawara of Sweets Raku and Rebecca Bills of Gen3 Hospitality in Las Vegas create elaborate Valentine’s Day desserts. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
One Night For One Drop
Cirque du Soleil cast and crew donate their time and talent to this year's "One Night For One Drop" performance at the "O" Theatre in the Bellagio. The event takes place March 8, 2019, and benefits the One Drop organization. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Chinese New Year Parade
Chinese New Year parade takes place on Fremont Street. (Bill Hughes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Manzo restaurant a key part of Eataly
Nicole Brisson, executive chef of Eataly, at Park MGM in Las Vegas, talks about new restaurant.
Designer Makes Festival-style Crowns
Designer at MAGIC trade show Makes Festival-style Crowns (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Excalibur Raises tent that will house "Fuerza Bruta" show
Workers at Excalibur raised a tent, which will be the home of "Fuerza Bruta," a temporary show that will run from March 7 to September 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roc Boots Make For Glittery Festival Wear
With 3-inch-tall chunky heels, cleated platforms, and sparkly glitter, you’ll want to wear these to dance the night away. Sally Cull, product and development for Roc Boots Australia, assures you that you can. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get A Custom-painted Jacket At Las Vegas Fashion Event
On the first of the two-night Commotion event, clothing brands connected with consumers, offering shopping, giveaways and customization opportunities. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Venetian Celebrates The "Year Of The Pig"
The Venetian hosted dancers to celebrate the Chinese New Year and "Year of the Pig." The dancers performed a traditional eye-dotting ceremony and lion dance. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Pepe the truffle-hunting dog
Jose Andres knows that quality black truffles can also be found in his native Spain. He’ll be sharing some with the world for a week, starting Monday. From Feb. 11-17, his Cosmopolitan restaurant Jaleo will be showcasing four special dishes made with Spanish truffles discovered by the truffle-hunting dogs of his friend Nacho Ramírez Monfort. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tony Abou-Ganim mixes drink at Libertine Social
Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist, helped change the cocktail culture in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masaharu Morimoto talks ramen in Las Vegas
Masaharu Morimoto talks about bringing a ramen restaurant to Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morimoto considering full-time Las Vegas ramen spot
Morimoto talks about a full-time ramen spot in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to new home at Neon Museum Boneyard
The famous and newly restored, Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign is working it's way to a permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to Neon Museum Boneyard
The famous and newly restored, Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign has been moved to its permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to new Las Vegas home
The famous and newly restored Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign has moved to a permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas band Otherwise release song and video in tribute to slain cousin
Adrian and Ryan Patrick, brothers in the band Otherwise with drummer Brian Medeiros, talk about the release of a tribute song to their deceased cousin Ivan. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Las Vegas residency
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Vegas residency (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES final night showcases Drake at XS Nightclub
Drake performed for CES attendees and club-goers at XS Nightclub in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2019 Has A Cordless Hair Dryer
CES Has A Cordless Hair Dryer (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing