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When I sat down in the Mark and Stephanie Medoff Theatre at NMSU to watch “Hookman,” I thought, “What a fabulous set.” When the play ended, I thought, “What a great show.”
The 70 or so minutes in between were an astonishing mix of Freddie Kruger and Jason Voorhees, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Groundhog Day” and some of the very best of the classic horror movies produced during Hollywood’s Golden Age.
If you see the show – and I highly recommend you do – the best way to enjoy it is to take the advice of the play’s director, New Mexico State University associate theatre professor Larissa Lury.
During the talkback with the cast and creative team after the Feb. 23 preview performance, Larissa suggested (I am paraphrasing) watching “Hookman” as if you were going on a scary ride at a county fair: Scream if you want, laugh, cry – just enjoy the ride. That is clearly what playwright Lauren Yee has in mind.
And what a ride it is! A bit of gore, some adult themes and language and a little violence (that’s the viewer discretion advisory) are secondary to the extraordinary work of props designer Vance Cook (give him a hand for the Hookman’s ghastly appendage), guest set and projection designer Hsi-An Chen (how I loved the car, the truly creepy projections and the “snow” storm!), costume designer Chloe Cappuccilli (the masks were fabulous!), sound designer Jim Wilkinson and student designers Alia Belinte (lighting) and Carmen Vugteveen (assistant set designer).
And the cast! What outstanding performances by Eliza Phillips, Liliana Tuda, Tiara Sibley, Joshua Jackson, Angelique Reagan and Benjamin Ramsey. (Their understudies are Emma Kenney, Alycia Herrera, Indira Rucker and Austin Reeve.)
The show has no intermission, and no one in the cast ever, for even a moment, let drop the fireball of energy Eliza and Liliana created in the very first scene. Joshua Jackson was actually the first actor on stage, and closed the show with an amazing – and self-created -- montage of the entire production.
You guys were brilliant.
The talkback after the show made it clear there is another element shared by everyone in the cast and crew of “Hookman”: Joy. They love being a part of this show – exploring it, making it and bringing it to life. Credit there goes especially, I think, to Larissa and to assistant director Eva Cullen, stage manager Casey Standridge and assistant stage manager Reagan Szulc.
Bravo to each of you individually and all of you collectively. You have conjured the magic of theatre and shared it with the world.
Final performances of “Hookman” are 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 3, and Saturday, March 4; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 5.
A panel discussion with Zooey Sophia Pook, Ph.D., and members of NMSU’s Asian and Pacific Islander Student Support will follow the Saturday, March 4, performance.
The ASNMSU Center for the Arts is located at 1000 E. University Ave.
Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 for students, $16 for seniors and military and $10 for children under age 18.
Visit https://theatre.nmsu.edu/ and click on the Hookman poster to purchase tickets online. Call 575-646-4515 to purchase tickets by phone. You can also buy tickets at the theatre box office before each performance. Groups rates are also available; contact the box office for information.