For 28 years now, the Parkland College Theatre has proudly presented the community with its student production. From top to bottom, the show is produced entirely by Parkland’s theatre students. Not only does the production showcase the outstanding talent in the Theatre Department, it provides aspiring theatre professionals the opportunity to hone their skills as directors, stage managers, set designers, sound designers, and more.

Starring a cast filled with students, Parkland Theatre veterans, and newcomers to the Parkland College Stage and directed by second year student Melissa Goldman, this year’s student production brings Neil Simon’s class Come Blow Your Horn to life.

Smile Politely spoke with Goldman to find why Come Blow Your Horn is worth your time.

Smile Politely: How did you decide on Come Blow Your Horn as your submission for the student production?

Melissa Goldman: I am a huge fan of musical theatre. When I heard Parkland did a student production, I wanted to do a musical of some sort but as a student production it had to be a play. I went through the mini filing cabinet in my brain of all the shows I’ve read, seen, or enjoyed. I thought of this show. I first saw Come Blow Your Horn at Cissna Park’s Country Theatre Workshop in 2013. I found the play hilarious and just a feel-good show. I left the theatre with a sense joy and want people to experience the same joy I had when seeing this show for the first time. When submitting a show, for the student production I had to think about the budget and costs, and what we could put on within the space of the black box (second stage) theatre. I chose to submit Come Blow Your Horn because it was a six-person cast (3 male, 3 female) and it’s small so it wouldn’t be a whole lot for set construction. Not only those factors but it’s a comedy and many audience members tend to love comedies.

SP: Were there any standout moments in the script that you looked forward to bringing to life? That made you know you had to direct the show?

Goldman: Within this script I looked forward to bringing out the relationship of this family on stage. Not everyone’s family is tight knit and Neil Simon portrays this within his writing after basing this show off his own family. One of the scenes I really wanted to bring to life was between Buddy and Alan Baker right after Buddy runs away from home to his brother’s New York City apartment to see how these two brothers support each other though their parents may be a little “nutty.”

SP: How would you describe the show to anyone unfamiliar with Neil Simon or this particular play?

Goldman: Neil Simon’s Come Blow Your Horn is the story of Alan and Buddy Baker brothers who are very different from each other. Buddy is a young man wanting to live the bachelor play boy life his older brother Alan leads despite his parents best wishes for him. Alan takes Buddy under his wing and teaches him the way of his lifestyle until Buddy eventually becomes the swinging image of him. Alan then finds himself falling in love for the first time. Come Blow Your Horn was Neil Simon’s first show that lead to his great success. He based this show off his own life and events with his own family.

SP: What has been your approach to the show? Are you keeping it of the era or updating it?

Melissa Goldman: My approach to this show was to make it fun. I choose to put this show in 1967 and having the show to be bright and fun but not over the top comedy so you can still see the reality of this family on stage.
 

Smile Politely: How do you feel your past experience as a Parkland Theatre student has prepared you to direct the show?

Goldman: As a Parkland Theatre Student, I felt working on shows with other great directors such as Mathew Green, Jeff Dare, BJ Gailey, and Mike O’ Brien it was a good learning process for me. I have stage managed a show and assistant stage-managed shows but directing was a whole new field for me. Taking script analysis at Parkland has helped me dive into my script and notate what I felt the writer was trying to show within this show. After sitting through many rehearsals as an assistant stage manager I felt it helped me to see other director’s process and how they go about from the first read through into rehearsals then into the production.

SP: Aside from the constant horrible weather, and winter break, have there been any challenges so far?

Goldman: Challenges for putting on this show for me personally was to trust my instincts of what I wanted this show to be. Along with the rehearsal time. This student production had very limited rehearsal time we only got about 4 weeks of rehearsal but with snow days it ended up being about 2 weeks and a few days of rehearsal to put this show together. Another factor of challenge was that it’s a student production everything is run by students and our budget for costumes, set, props, etc is very limited. I had to hope that my fellow peers would take this production seriously and have their heart in it to put on a good production.

SP: Why should we be excited about the cast and the show?

Goldman: This show is funny, and a lot of the cast are new comers to the Parkland stage which is exciting to see new actors in shows at Parkland. The cast, all of them are great comedians bringing life to their characters and they truly make this show a blast. People should be excited because it’s a good time out of your house and a great evening spent in the theatre.

SP: Why should local theatre lovers see the show?

Goldman: People should see this show because the cast and crew have all worked very hard to put this together. All tickets are only $10.00 ( that’s a pretty good price!) and sales help directly fund our theatre scholarship program at Parkland College. Without this program it would be hard for many students to be able to pay their tuition. I am a part of this program and without it I wouldn’t have been able to achieve a higher education and fulfill my passions.

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To reserve tickets, head to the Parkland College Theatre webpage here.

Come Blow Your Horn
Parkland College Theatre
2400 W. Bradley Ave
Champaign
February 7-9, February 15-16, 7:30 p.m.
February 17th, 3 p.m.

Photos from the Parkland College Theatre Facebook page