Wake Forest students introduce drama, stage illusions in 'Awakening'

By Pam Barrett
January 19, 2006

"Awakening," an original one-man show incorporating drama, magic and illusion, will debut at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at Wake Forest University's MainStage Theatre in Scales Fine Arts Center. Performances will also be held at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25 and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 26. The performance is suitable for families. During intermission, Wake Forest students will perform magic tricks in the lobby.

Ben Whiting

Written and produced by Wake Forest seniors Matt Gutschick and Ben Whiting, "Awakening" is a semi-autobiographical depiction of Whiting's life that incorporates David Copperfield-style grand illusion as its main narrative tool. Whiting, an illusionist, magician and actor, plays himself. Gutschick is the director.

According to Gutschick, the drama follows the story of Whiting as a boy as he dreams of one day becoming a magician. Throughout the narration, Whiting incorporates dozens of magic tricks, five large-scale illusions and a death-defying escape.

"I think audiences will be inspired by the story and captivated by the double art of drama and grand illusion," said Gutschick. Whiting is quick to point out, however, that "Awakening" is not just about magic. "Our story has a purpose. It is meant to inspire both children and adults to hold onto their dreams and never give up."

"Awakening" is the first student-produced work to be performed in Wake Forest's MainStage Theatre. Gutschick and Whiting have been collaborating on the production since 2004. The production is stage-managed by Wake Forest senior Lindsey Hardegree. Paul Frydrychowski, a notable off-Broadway lighting designer, and a team of 20 other Wake Forest students have also worked on the production.

"Awakening" is sponsored by MagicMouth Productions, the educational, non- profit theatre company created by Gutschick and Whiting; the Wake Forest theatre department; the Anthony Aston Players; and the Chambers Family Fund Grant and the New Venture Plan Competition through Wake Forest's Office of Entrepreneurship.

Tickets are $20; $10 for students and children 12 and under. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to MagicMouth Productions for future productions.

To order tickets, visit www.magicmouthproductions.com.

For information, call the Wake Forest Theatre Box Office at (336) 758-5295 or visit the MagicMouth Web site.

Note to Editors: Advance interviews with Matt Gutschick and Ben Whiting can be arranged. Morning show segments featuring sleight of hand tricks and a preview of an illusion can be arranged. Additional photos are also available.