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The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

“Dr. Faustus”: Actors and production team review opening night

Cast members showcase special effects during rehearsal. Photo retrieved from UWL Theatre and Dance Facebook page.

On Friday, Oct. 13, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Theatre and Dance Department presented “Dr. Faustus”. The Racquet Press caught up with members of the cast and crew after opening night to learn how they were feeling after their performance.

(If you haven’t heard about “Dr. Faustus”, check out this article that will tell you all about the show!)

Opening night is typically the first performance that the actors, stage managers, and technical directors have in front of a paying audience. For those involved in the showing of Dr. Faustus, opening night was when all the practice and preparation put in over the weeks of rehearsal was seen by a ticket-purchasing audience. 

Cast member Ryan Hustedt said, “[Actors are] in a profession in which half of our job is simply playing off having an audience. [Rehearsing] for an audience of designers who have seen it so many times means nothing is surprising or funny anymore.”

“Opening night is when that all changes. We actors suddenly have a reason to perform. We suddenly realize bits we do are funny, and that things we do shock people, scare people, make people feel. And it propels us into the next night, and the next, and the next. We have a purpose,” said Hustedt.

Another member of the cast, Nicholas Bilyeu said, “After opening night, I am ecstatic! I am so excited to share this performance with more and more people.”

Stage Manager Sage Goetsch, and Assistant Stage Manager River Podjasek, arrived at the stage early that night to make sure everything was set for the night. Typically, stage managers put in work before the performance and after the performance. 

When asked about post-opening night emotions, Goetsch said, “I feel great. I was so nervous all day. Now that we’ve gone and we’ve done one [show], I feel great. I’m really happy with how things turned out and everything looked amazing tonight.”

Podjasek continued by saying, “Hearing the audiences’ reaction as the show went on, I was like, ‘We’re doing amazing.’”

Dr. Faustus was written in Elizabethan text. Many of the cast members had never worked with Elizabethan text, like cast member Gavin Muller. Working with other students in the cast, the show’s director and UWL Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance, Dr. Nic Barilar, was one way to overcome that challenge.

“Learning [the Elizabethan] style was a challenge. Our director has been really good with dialects and working with this text,” said Muller.

Both cast and crew members spoke about the special effects in the show and coordinating them. “From day one, some of the most exciting elements from the show to prepare for were all the magic tricks we have up our sleeve,” said Hustedt.

Bilyeu said, “It was difficult to get used to all the elements we didn’t immediately have in rehearsals. Quick costume changes are a big part of my role in the show, so it was stressful to get them right.”

Goetsch spoke about how the special effects were both difficult and exciting. 

“Everything slowly coming together is a little stressful. All of our special effects came to fruition this week. It’s been difficult. Now that it’s together, it’s all running so smoothly, which is awesome. The work that [everyone] put in really made everything come together nicely.” said Goetsch.

The cast and crew also shared pride for their production and the people who helped it happen. Their words speak for themselves: 

“I’m really proud of our crew. We had a shift today between scenes where I was like, ‘Wow, that happened so fast. Everything went so smoothly—it was great,” said Podjasek.

“I’m proud of the company we have here at UWL. It’s a fantastic environment and a brilliant bunch of teachers and students. [The designers and technical directors] know a vast array of tricks and knowledge on their specific areas of expertise and together can bring about a masterpiece,” said Hustedt.

“Working with Dr. Nic and seeing his vision come to light before my eyes has been exhilarating,” said cast member Edward Doerr.

Bilyeu said, “I am most proud of the team behind this production. And of course, my fellow cast members. They are all amazingly talented and I’m honored to work with them.”

To close, all cast and crew interviewed were asked to share one word that described “Dr. Faustus”. Answers ranged from “Fiendish,” (Doerr) to “Thrilling,” (Hustedt); from “Spine-chilling,” (Muller) to “Terrifying” (Goetsch). However, the most common thread from all interviewed was the word “Fun”.

Missed opening weekend? Don’t worry! “Dr. Faustus” will have performances on Oct 19-21 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct 22 at 2:00 p.m. at Toland Theatre in the Truman Lowe Center for the Arts. You can purchase tickets online at


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About the Contributor
Ann David
Ann David, Multimedia Editor
  • Year at UWL: Junior
  • PGPs: She/Her/Hers
  • Hometown: Eau Claire, WI
  • Major: English: Medical Professions Emphasis
  • Minor: Biology; Music Performance
  • Other Campus Involvement: UWL Wind Ensemble and Orchestra Member
  • Future Plans after Graduation: Attending grad school in Minnesota
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Walking through the Rotary Lights at Riverside Park in the winter with friends.
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