By Adrianne Hutto, Production Editor
The Manhattan College fall play this year was “Enemy of the People” by Ibsen, a play which took on an extremely prevalent theme with heavy hefty dialogue for the actors. The set was that of an 1800s town, the period in which the piece was written, with features which drew the audience in and costumes that added to the realism of the story.
Matthew Herlihy, a senior at MC, played Doctor Thomas Stockman, the lead of the play who discovers the public baths, which the prosperity of the town is dependent on, are contaminated and making people sick. When he refuses to be silent on the matter, he is declared the “enemy of the people.”
Prior to “Enemy of the People,” Herlihy has been a part of last semester’s production “Play On!” as Henry. He was one of the backup nominees for the Irene Ryan Award after his performance in the spring.
While Herlihy auditioned as the lead, he was not going in expecting to get the role.
“It was an amazing surprise to be able to get the lead part,” Herlihy said. “I at first went in auditioning as a lead, because I was given the advice to try out for the lead, to just give it a shot, and get any of the other parts. I was extremely surprised when I got called back for the lead and even more surprised when I got the part.”
Herlihy explained that his favorite part of being in the show was the opening night.
“We had so much nerves before then, we weren’t really sure if we were going to be able to do it,” Herlihy said. “That relief that we all felt after was absolutely the best part of the whole play.”
Olivia Bailey is a freshman at MC and played the second lead and the brother of Dr. Thomas Stockman, Mayor Peter Stockman. A part which Bailey played with extreme precision and skill, not limited by her age or gender [the character male and her being female]. Being so young, Bailey enjoyed being able to establish herself in her role.
“As a freshman, it was an extremely rewarding experience to be surrounded by such talented actors,” Bailey said.
While the dialogue was difficult for this particular play, Bailey explained it as a necessary evil in making the play as good as it was. “It was difficult navigating the way of speaking for its specific era, but it really helps to show who the characters are and how they present themselves based on the language used,” Bailey said.
Bailey explained that her favorite part of each show is always the last.
“Last shows are always the best in my opinion because it’s when you let a good thing go,” Bailey said. “I just leave it all on the stage and have fun with it.”
Another important character in the play was Hovstad, played by Richard [RJ] Giannicchi, a senior at MC. Giannicchi’s character is the editor of the local liberal newspaper in the town, which originally sides with Dr. Stockman but ultimately folds when comforted by the mayor.
While it was thrilling to receive such a large role, Giannicchi was not expecting it and explained that it was somewhat nerve-wracking.
“It felt good to do but it’s like, you know, it’s kind of like looking at it from the top of the mountain to the base of it,” Giannicchi said. “It was a very perilous climb, but I’m glad I did it.”
Giannicchi liked acting in “Enemy of the People” because of the relevancy of the story despite being written over 100 years ago.
“I just like how the feeling of this show and the story is still very much relevant today,” Giannicchi said. “This expert knows that there is this killer virus going around and no one seems to really care.”
As for students who desire to get involved with theater at MC, Herlihy encourages you to go for it, and leave your dignity at the door when you do.
“You can’t take yourself too seriously and you can’t be afraid of people laughing at you, because you will just regret it later,” Herlihy said. “Don’t let others hold you back and commit yourself 100% to it and you will do great, the audience can tell when you are being authentic.”