‘J.B.’ begins ‘Year of the Tony’

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” resonated throughout Potter Hall Theatre as the cast of "J.B." took to the stage opening night. The theater department chose to start the Year of the Tony with an intense drama. An adaptation of the book of Job, J.B. examines the relationship between the protagonist’s faith and life trials. The standout performance of the evening belonged to Andy Tyhurst in the role of J.B. Tyhurst’s performance was both captivating and difficult to watch. Although uncomfortable at times, his suffering was tangible throughout the audience. The level of authenticity that Tyhurst brings to his character was truly memorable. J.B. also had other great performances. Xan Kellogg, as J.B.’s wife Sarah, did a wonderful job in her Missouri Western debut role. The dichotomy of Nickles, played by Robin Ussher, and Mr. Zuss, played by Erik Burns-Sprung, cannot go unmentioned either. Both Ussher and Burns-Sprung played well off of one another while providing context throughout the play. Although full of noteworthy performances the play itself was sometimes confusing. Particularly the lack of key set elements that could clarify the storyline for the audience. During the scenes where J.B. and his family were in their home the absence of walls and other homey elements left the setting undefined. It was never quite clear if the characters were in their home or on the street. Another element that causes confusion was the notion of time. Throughout the play it was unclear if the events occurred in a year or throughout J.B.’s lifetime. There were subtle hints that showed the progression of time throughout the production, however, if those elements would have been accentuated it would have made it easier to understand. Though the set and the timeline of the play were slightly confusing, other production elements were done exceptionally well. The costuming, music selection, and lighting were powerful elements that established the tone for the entire show. These production components were the technical highlights of the show. While J.B. had its confusing moments, the acting and technical execution makes this show worth seeing. J.B. has three remaining performances Oct. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 7 at 3:00 p.m.

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