Review: Ashland Falls Won’t Disappoint


Katie Gapinski, Rebecca Boucher, Ireland Sweeney and Nadine Druar

Danielle Lippert, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

This weekend, April 14-17, Notre Dame will perform the play Ashland Falls by Steven Stack. I was able to see one of the final dress rehearsals and be one of the first people to see the show. To say the plotline and characters are good is an understatement; it was absolutely amazing.

It can be hard to wrap your head around the “play inside of a play” concept, but the lighting makes it very easy to realize the difference between “real life” and the “play.” Coming into this, I thought for sure it would be difficult to tell the difference, but I didn’t have any difficulties with telling the difference.

The students who were chosen for this year’s play did a phenomenal job. Not only are they playing their “real life” character, but they also have to play another character in the “play,” although you will find out that they end up being oddly similar.

One of the actors who really stood out to me was Ireland Sweeney. Ireland plays Savannah in “real life” and Kaelyn in the “play.” She made it really obvious what her character was feeling. Her facial expressions were always on point, and I never saw her out of character.

Mike DeLeers and Ireland Sweeney
Mike DeLeers and Ireland Sweeney

In fact, I didn’t see one actor ever out of character. It can be difficult when you are in the background and not talking. It can be easy to just fall back into yourself, but no one ever stepped out of character. When you go see the show, glance at the back. They are staying perfectly in character and reacting as their characters should.

There are also times where a character would have to stay frozen when something else was happening on the stage. I never saw anyone flinch. Everyone stayed perfectly still without any movement.

Another actor that stood out to me was Alex Wasilkoff. Alex plays Larry, the director of the play within the play. All of the characters are somewhat suspicious of him when he first comes in because he lived in a town very close to where the events of the play supposedly occurred. Alex really played up his director character and was a very believable director.

Alex Wasilkoff and Alissa DeWilde
Alex Wasilkoff and Alissa DeWilde

I was able to get a preview of the play while I was working on lines with Clare Ravizza during our study hall time together. Clare executed her lines very well, on top of having to stutter sometimes. It can be hard to make something like that believable, but she did an outstanding job.

Katie Gapinski, Rebecca Boucher and Clare Ravizza played a group of freshman friends. Katie plays Emily in “real life” and Elizabeth in the “play,” Rebecca plays Payton in “real life” and Tawnie in the “play” and Clare plays Lydia in “real life” and Vala in the “play.” They definitely did well in playing the stereotypical freshman. They played really great close friends and were very good at being the obnoxious, typical freshmen.

Two characters that had me laughing half the time they were onstage were Mike DeLeers and Aiden Glaser Schoff. Mike DeLeers plays Gavin in “real life” and Wynter in the “play.” In one scene, Gavin is practicing his scene with Aiden (Ben Richards), and he is constantly interrupting for advice. Aiden plays Tony in “real life” and Garrick in the “play.” Aiden’s character is very sarcastic, and he did an outstanding job playing it and making the sarcasm obvious.

Ben Richards and Mike DeLeers
Ben Richards and Mike DeLeers

Unlike the musical, the play doesn’t use microphones. So the actors really have to project their voice, and they were up to the challenge. The cast also seemed to have chemistry, and everyone worked really well together.

In short, the production of Ashland Falls was amazing. The play had a perfect mixture of comedy, mystery and romance, and the actors did a memorable job with all of it. I won’t spoil the ending, but I was literally on the edge of my seat. You definitely won’t see the end coming. Make sure to find time to see Ashland Falls this weekend, April 14-16, at 7p.m. and April 17 at 2 p.m.

Tickets will be sold at the door for $5.  The director of the play, Mrs. Andrea Gilson, has all kinds of reasons to be proud of her first theatrical production as a teacher here. (She is an NDA alum and honed her skills on that very stage.)