Know Theatre opened their 25th season with quite the comedy. Sunrise Coven was inspired by the playwright Brendan Bourque-Sheil’s experience with his mother’s sickness and spiritual healers, and his personal connection lends itself to a strong script through which director Holly L. Derr adeptly guides the cast. The production elements do more than set the stage, they create a whole new world, ready for the cast to step into.
The play brings its audience into beloved nurse practitioner Hallie’s (Denise Dal Vera) uncertainty as we all work to understand what brought us to the only hospital within 50 miles of Bucktown, Texas. We learn faster than the enthusiastic young doctor Annie (Resa Mishina) does about Hallie’s addiction, which has impacted much of her life. Before leaving the hospital, we meet the endearing Jax (Michael Burnham) who provides levity through laughter and sweet lighthearted moments talking about his wife who is sick.
Next, the set transforms from the bleak hospital room to an unlikely meeting place for Bucktown: a New Age witchcraft shop run by Winter Moon (Julie Locker). Her quirky energy brings a fun dynamic to the cast as she brings to life the playwright’s witty dialogue, like how she describes Hallie’s and Ethan’s (Ryan-Chavez Richmond) meeting as “getting dumped by your drug dealer.” Though it lends itself to funny lines later on, Ryan-Chavez Richmond gives Ethan a genuine concern for the gravity of the topic, and the playwright balances tough issues with comedy well throughout the play.
As Hallie is left without a clear path, others offer their ideas on where to go next. While she’s skeptical about Winter’s suggestion to explore her spirituality at first, she and Ethan eventually band together with Winter with a “business proposition” that just might be the perfect fit for all of them and help the town at the same time.
This cast of colorful characters come together to tell a unique story about losing and finding hope that asks their audience what it means to do the right thing. The playwright beautifully blends in themes of both spirituality and appreciation of reason to embrace empathy and learning, all while entertaining audiences with situational humor and witty dialogue. The lighting and set (Andrew Hungerford), sound (Douglas Borntrager), and props (Danielle Robison), create an authentic world (and world in between worlds, but you’ll have to see the show to know what that means). Sunrise Coven makes a great opener to Know Theatre’s season as a play that is truly different.
Sunrise Coven runs through August 28, with affordable ticket pricing tiers, including their “Welcome Wednesdays,” where you can reserve tickets for only $5. Get your tickets here!
Christy Carson is a local actor and digital marketer. This is her first year with LCT.