Mosaic / Reviews / March 2, 2016

“Secret in the Wings” has great set, confusing plot

Upon entrance, it was clear the hype for this production was huge. Every seat was filled in Studio Theatre to the point that some couldn’t find room to sit. As I sat in my seat and peered around the dark stage, I noticed the intricacy of the set. For being in a smaller theater than “Neverwhere,” I found it to be just as suitable to the needs of the production.

The stairway and many doors opened up the otherwise cramped space to many possibilities. Across the stage lay many different props that seemed to be completely random. I didn’t know it yet, but these would be used to their full potential and bring life to the show in excellent fashion. The use of lighting throughout the show and the gorgeous musical score added their own bit of flair, solidifying the fantastic construction of the entire production. The set design impressed me yet again.

The show began with a flurry of dialogue at a confusing pace. I wasn’t sure whether to sit back and let it play out, or search for clues as to what was happening. I eventually chose the former. The show consisted of many different storylines told through the device of a story book by Mr. Fitzpatrick, portrayed by senior Holden Meier. This character creeped me out for the most part, but was effective in this role.

The different stories, centered around old fairy tales, were introduced in two halves. By telling the story in this way, I was left bewildered as to what was happening for a good majority of the play. That being said, the acting and superb use of props kept me interested. The cast switched from role to role in a seamless effort and I was amazed by the ease of costume changes.

Of course, with all of the stories going on at once, there were inevitably some that worked better than others. In my mind, the stand out role of the show was junior Theresa Murphy. Her struggle to find humor in the world was portrayed wonderfully. The fact that she was able to hold a straight face throughout the barrage of jokes was extremely impressive. Also making a lasting impression were the Blind Queens, played by junior Emily Trevor, sophomore Miranda Curtis and senior Niki Acton. They each brought an eerie tone to the haunting story and made the crowd shiver. The witty banter of the Three Princes, played by junior Dakota Stipp, junior Ian Tully and junior Tristan Yi brought a comedic side to the play, and each of the actors in these roles impressed throughout the night.

Unfortunately, there were a few less impressive scenes. The story of the lovers who swore to stay together through death went on a bit too long. I found myself wanting this story to wrap up more than any other. Its slow pacing was fine at first, but the second act felt redundant. Alongside this tale was the story of the Seven Swans. While this story was well acted, there was a strange decision to include pre-recorded voices, which completely took me out of the scene.

Other than those two spots, the stories intertwined beautifully. The twist at the end was slightly lackluster and confusing, but I can’t deny it had me thoroughly intrigued.

Though a bit rough in some areas, The Secret in the Wings did a great job of utilizing a smaller stage and created an engrossing tale for all. With so many moving pieces and a cast that each took multiple roles, there was a lot to be impressed by. This show was certainly well worth the time.


Mitch Prentice
Mitch Prentice graduated in 2017, majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. He volunteered for TKS his sophomore and junior year, and worked as Mosaic Editor his senior year. He has interned alongside Greg Kot at the Chicago Tribune and runs his own website.

Tags:  rep term secret in the wings Studio Theatre theatre

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