TOP Stages Successful “The Heiress”

By Kristen Egan

This past weekend, Collins Auditorium welcomed an intimate audience to the Theatrical Outreach Program’s (TOP) successful three run showing of “The Heiress.”

The audience was invited to sit on the stage, which had been transformed into the parlor room of a mid-19th century Manhattan apartment by tech director Alex Guthrie, FCRH ’19.

“Heiress” follows Catherine Sloper, a young and seemingly meek woman religiously seeking her father’s approval and attempting to live up to the expectations her charming late mother left for her.

Catherine is confronted with the possibility of loving a poor man. She is then left to decide whether or not to risk being disinherited by a disapproving father and fight for the love she believes in.

Each character was dressed in period clothing of the 19th century, including many different hats designed by Kate McGuire, FCRH ’20.

Charles Buscarino, FCRH ’20, continuously made the audience roar with laughter with his portrayal of Catherine’s father, Dr. Sloper.

He perfectly balanced dry humor and a terror-inducing tone.

Dr. Sloper’s sister, Mrs. Penniman, played by Allyson Grant, FCRH ’22, contrasted the otherwise miserable character with constant cheeriness and guidance for her niece.

Gabrielle Curran, FCRH ’20, flawlessly composed herself as the multi-faceted Catherine and transforms from a socially awkward girl into a confident and secure woman.

Catherine’s story of growth is meant to inspire the audience that they too can grow.

The dysfunctional family is also comprised of Dr. Sloper’s sister, Mrs. Almond, (Annina Black, FCRH ’19) and her daughter, Marian (Anna Baggs, FCRH ’22).

This family never seems to be on the same page, as each member is in constant conflict with the other.

Dr. Sloper never forgave Catherine for killing her mother in childbirth and constantly reminds her.

Neither of Dr. Sloper’s sisters, Mrs. Penniman or Mrs. Almond, can ever seem to get through to him about the importance of showing his daughter love instead of instilling fear.

He sees the worst in his daughter and cannot understand how anyone could see otherwise.

Arthur, the fiancée of Marian, (Christian Decker, FCRH ’21), introduces the villain of the play, Morris Townsend, (Mike Rinaldi, GSB ’20), to his prey.

Morris seems to quickly fall in love with the idea of Catherine while she begins to open up to him.

Catherine is too blinded by love to see that Morris just wants her for her inheritance.

Sloper goes to great lengths to try to stop the engagement between his daughter and Morris and even invites Morris’ sister to his home to interrogate her about her brother’s intentions.

Mrs. Montgomery, (Anthea Vishegonov, GSB ’22), bravely does not let Dr. Sloper scare her, like he scares the rest of his family, into obedience.

Samantha Higgins, FCRH ’22, consistently and convincingly delivered her lines as Maria, the obedient maid to the Sloper family.

Even after Dr. Sloper takes Catherine to Europe for six months, she remains faithful to her fiancé.

The happy couple’s plan to elope goes terribly wrong when Catherine attempts to hasten the process by proclaiming she will disinherit herself from her father and never speak to him again if it means getting to be with Morris.

Morris is visibly concerned by this statement and escapes into the night, promising to return later to pick her up for their elopement.

Catherine is left heartbroken. As time passes, her father dies and she becomes stronger-willed. She becomes confident and brave in her choices.

The second time Morris tries to weasel his way into her life, she tricks him in the same way he tricked her.

The Sloper family is not perfect: the members lie to each other, do not trust each other, and are unable to communicate — but they are family.

Similarly, on and off the stage, each person who helped make this show successful is a family, from the directors to stage managers to actors and so on.

Each actor looked relaxed, as if the stage they were standing on truly was their family’s gathering space and we were all flies on the wall.

Buscarino did not even break character after accidentally shattering a glass prop on stage. Instead, he carried on in a classic Dr. Sloper manner.

Julia Corbett, FCRH ’20, and Mark Simeon, FCRH ’19, tied the entire performance together with their directing skills.

They thanked Sean Coffey, FCRH ’19, for his passion towards the play and the life he added to the production.

Although TOP is the youngest of the three existing theatre groups at Rose Hill, its greenness does not stop the troupe from delivering amazing productions and transporting an entire audience back to the 19th century.

TOP performs “The Heiress,” a 1947 play by Ruth and Augustus Goetz adapted from the Henry James’ novel, “Washington Square.” (Kevin Stoltenborg/The Fordham Ram)