Ryan Chartrand

An enthusiastic blonde and apprehensive brunette appear onstage in skirts and ’60s-style apparel while multi-colored lights shine bright upon them. Three large images on screens in the background set the scene of a high school dance.

A refreshing and genuine set of characters perform onstage to an almost empty theatre, since it is a dress rehearsal, yet the cast acts as if an audience is there watching, performing the play to its finest high points.

“The Heidi Chronicles” opens at 8 p.m. tonight with shows Friday, Saturday and March 6 through 8 in the Spanos Theatre. The episodic play spans from 1968 to 1989 and features a complex cast dominated by a female character that is a rare find in most theatre. Tonight’s opening has the cast rolling with enthusiasm.

“By the time the lights go up for the first show, we are so ready,” theatre senior Kerry DiMaggio said.

DiMaggio plays Heidi, an enticing, empowering woman who seeks to find her way in a world in which her gender seems to be overshadowed. The soft-spoken DiMaggio takes Heidi to another level, emphasizing the character’s self-confidence but also her hesitations over the choices she makes in her life.

“I think one of my favorite things about (Heidi) is tracing her remarkable journey throughout the course of the play,” DiMaggio said. “She goes from being a 16-year-old girl who is relatively comfortable in her skin but a little odd, but as she grows older she realizes that she has made choices that she regrets or wants to re-examine.”

The character questions her decision to carry a career over other typical choices of women in her time, such as choosing a life partner or raising a family.

DiMaggio said that one of the characters describes Heidi as a “serious good person.” This is true because Heidi is truly an audience favorite, a lovable character who has her own flaws when it comes to friendship, love and other life choices. The well-written character is sweet, yet a little high strung and serious at times.

Heidi’s best friend Susan is played by theatre junior Lindsey Geibel. Geibel’s mannerisms and line delivery are perfection, right on point with how Wasserstein writes and the average reader envisions the character. Her attitude as an ultra-feminist turned Hollywood high roller is perfect and provides some comedic relief from some of the play’s heavy underlying themes.

Heidi’s other best friend is Peter, a homosexual pediatrician who is a witty joke-teller and a loyal friend, played by London Conservatory post-graduate in theater and musical arts Zachary Johnson. Johnson described Peter as having many idiosyncrasies.

“When (Peter) is 16, he obviously does not know he is homosexual,” Johnson said. “He is very comfortable in his own skin, but with the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s I tried to get the education of how it felt as a gay male back then and to lose people like they did by making personal contacts and old teachers of mine.”

“Peter is such an acting tool and a lot of work. To play a part like this is meaty and something to sink your teeth into,” Johnson added.

Theatre senior Duncan Calladine portrays Scoop Rosenbaum, a womanizer and pretentious man. Calladine pulls off Scoop with his suave and cocky demeanor.

There are also four characters who play multiple unique characters: Theatre junior Sarah Butler, sophomore Melanie Marshall and junior Christina Venezia, as well as engineering freshman Matthew Hranek all show the ability to morph into multiple personalities throughout the play.

Johnson also encourages students to attend because he feels there is a true connection to the characters.

“You see the characters going through college, going through internships, a lot of decades through life. It’s something you connect into – you see one woman’s decisions and kind of see her growth and it’s quite interesting in that sense,” Johnson said.

The play is both empowering and endearing due to intriguing plotlines of feminism, humanism, love, careers and, last but not least, friendship. The sincerity of each character adds to the performance, which will be delightfully charming for anyone who attends.

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