Director won’t wait for “The Waiting Room”

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There will be no more waiting for “The Waiting Room.” Director Mark Pentilescu shut down the scheduled production before it opened. It is the first time in memory that a Southwestern College theater production was cancelled so close to opening night.

“The show is over, it’s done, it’s finished,” Pentilescu said. “I think it’s the first time I’ve been in a show that didn’t open.”

Pentilescu said lack of commitment from some members of the cast and crew became an insurmountable obstacle.

“I was looking forward to producing this show more than anything I’ve wanted to produce in a long time,” said a passionate Pentilescu. “I loved the work the performers were doing. For most of them, it was their best work.”

A dark comedy by Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Lisa Loomer, “The Waiting Room ” focuses on three women from different time periods and their struggles with cultural ideals of beauty. Eight actors, seven running crew and the entire 295C Stagecraft Theater Arts class were involved in the pre-production of the play. Set design, props, costuming and the soundtrack were already complete. Lost in the shutdown was a set by award-winning designer Michael Buckley.

Pentilescu said he started working on the production of “The Waiting Room” this time last year, collaborating with designers over the summer of 2011 and beginning rehearsals in August.

Stage manager Summer Session, 18, said she was very unhappy that the show was axed.

“I thought the production was good, but some people needed to be more dedicated,” she said. “I was devastated when I found out it was cancelled.”

Pentilescu said matters just spun out of control.

“It wasn’t one thing, it was a series of small little cuts,” he said. “It got to a point where I couldn’t go on. I wasn’t able to really successfully communicate to the entire cast the commitment that’s needed during this process. These people were doing amazing work. I love every one of them, but they weren’t working as a group, as a unit.”

Pentilescu said the message he wanted to send to his students was about work ethic.

“I could have stepped aside and people would have stepped in and directed the show,” said Pentilescu. “But that would have sent the wrong message to the students, to the cast, that it’s okay to be slackers, it’s okay to be non-focused, it’s okay to put your priorities ahead of the show, and I couldn’t send that message.”

Pentilescu said the decision personally affected him.

“I’m still reeling, I really am,” he said. “Even now I still see the three main characters on stage performing. I can still see it, it’s still there. It will never go away.”

Actress Suhey Nieto, 21, said she, too, was unhappy about the closure of the play, but supported the decision.

“One of the hardest things is to admit a production has to come to an end,” she said. “Unfortunately it had to happen.”

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