Student theatre production “Kazam!” opens Feb. 9

Kazam-Prospectus_WEBEvyJo Compton

Staff Writer

“Kazam!,” a musical mystery production written by Kerry Bean, a communications professor at Parkland, and put on by students premiers Feb. 9 at Parkland’s theatre.

“‘Kazam!’ was commissioned by the Parkland Theatre to fit the Second Stage space and for the annual Student Production. In addition, it ties in with Parkland’s anniversary,” Bean said. “I don’t usually script it out. I usually sit down at a computer and start typing.”

The play is a twist on the old style of melodramas, with neither the actors nor the audience knowing who the murderer is. With many plot twists and layered comedy, the story unfolds itself until the final moments when the murderer is finally revealed.

“As the audience, you get introduced to all the possible characters…and then…the show starts to go on its journey,” he said. “I try to write these shows so that, yes, you know who the victim is, but when you get to the end, the culprit could still be almost any of the other characters. Keeping that in mind, I sometimes have to employ some pretty wild plot devices: ‘I could have sworn that character had already been blown up or eaten by a shark.’”

“Kazam!” is set in the not so distant past, as part of Parkland’s 50th anniversary. Bean says this creates unique struggles for the characters.

“Why can’t they use their cellphones? Well, it’s 1967,” he said. “It’s the way the world was like [in] Austin Powers when he travels to get his mojo back.”

Bean has also taken a twist to the way the play is performed.

“During intermission, we ask the audience to fill out a ‘Who Done It’ card which they use to guess the murderer,” he said. “We are always asking… the actors to step in and out of character. We’ve even incorporated the stage crew into the play.”

Bean notes the actual production of the play is being done by many of the students and staff of the Theatre Department. As a student production, it is directed by theatre major Tyler Cook. In addition, all the technical aspects of the show are being designed and run by students.

“In many respects, the whole theater department is involved in this. I wrote “Kazam!” but Tyler Cook gets creative independence. It’s his show, too. And Tyler Cook has many resources available to him, like his faculty advisor Jacki Lowenstein,” Bean said.

While this play is going to entertain its audience, it has also gives students great learning experiences.

“[The] great thing about having a community theater is learning from staff members and other experienced actors,” Bean said. “Student actors will learn a lot from these interactions.”

While getting good learning experiences, students also benefit in another way, as all proceeds over the total cost of the play will be put into two scholarships: the Randall Millas Scholarship Fund and the Theater Production Award Fund.

“Part of the money goes to help with [the] theater scholarship…money is specifically targeted to help theater students learn their craft,” Bean said.

Before coming to Parkland, Bean served as a pastor. He continues to be involved with the church today.

“I started teaching here in the fall of 2009, so I am about seven-and-a-half-years here as an instructor in the Communication Department, as well as the Theatre Department.” Bean says. “At first I wrote these little amusing murder mysteries for my churches as social events,” he said. “This is probably the 7th or 8th of these I’ve written. The character types are similar, and so are the plot devices. It’s really a farce…it just takes on the character of a melodrama.”

Bean hopes theatre-goers take away three simple things from seeing the play.

“My goal is for people to be entertained, to have laughed, and to remember how fun live theater is,” Bean said.

“Kazam!” will be performed on Feb. 9–11 at 7:30 p.m and Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. in Parkland’s Second Stage. For more information or to reserve seats, go to theatre.parkland.edu/kazam.html. The theater is also reachable by email at theatre@parkland.edu or over the phone at 351-2528. Tickets are $10 apiece, and there will be refreshments served during intermission.