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No Refund Theatre Presents: ‘Resnick Manor’ 

No Refund Theatre (NRT) returned with its second production of the spring catalog, “Resnick Manor.” Students can catch a showing beginning at 9 p.m. on Thursday, February 1, with programming running until 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 3.

NRT’s production was written and directed by Haley Webster and Angelina Smith.

The play follows the story of Cecelia and Veronica Resnick, the only ones left in their family after a mysterious curse causes everyone else to be killed. When Cecelia dies strangely, Veronica chooses to investigate the curse with her best friend Palea, only for them to realize something more sinister is occurring. 

The original script was first drafted by Webster during her senior year of high school and was originally intended to be shown as a short film. 

“I have been writing scripts ever since I was a little kid, and I’m pretty sure that I wrote this one when I was in like just like a writer’s drought,” Webster said. “I started by outlining it with lines that I for sure knew I wanted in it. And then I kind of built the storyline and the script around those specific lines, which is something that I’ve never done before in that order.” 

When Webster and Smith became closer last school year, they realized they could turn the script intended for a short film into something much bigger and adapt it for the stage.

“Haley came to me and said, ‘I have this script I wrote a while ago. Like would you want to adapt it for a stage?’ So we got together, developed the plot, added more characters, and included more plot points,” Smith said.

With their collaborative effort, the script was completed after months of tweaking and editing. 

The play kicked off with a prologue that established the tone, with moments of dark humor and intense emotion, introducing the curse afflicting the Resnick family. The story continued to unfold through 15 carefully crafted scenes that took the audience on an emotional journey from the lively beginning, “Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen!” to the intense finale of “It’s Not Fair.” 

The talented cast, led by Abby Miller as Veronica Resnick and Nicola Kirkwood, who played best friend Palea Hildebran, delivered outstanding performances that included dramatic monologues and on-stage combat. 

“Sword fighting was super challenging for me since I have never done any sort of combat choreography before,” Miller said. “Our director Angelina is fantastic with that since she did karate her whole life. But I’m just not good at moving my body, I’m not very coordinated. And she would do something and it looked so easy on her!”

Another challenge felt by the cast was that each character had to use a British accent throughout the production. 

“In the beginning, the group definitely struggled with memorization or keeping the British accent, and we would have problems with dropping the accent during specific words,” Kirkwood said. 

According to Webster, cast members weren’t required to know how to do a British accent before their audition.

“We did a little accent workshop with the cast to kind of work through some of the words that may be harder to pronounce and such, and I think they really pulled it off,” Webster said. 

Behind the scenes, the tech team, with the help and collaboration of all the directors, managed 15 diverse scenes that ranged from intimate conversations to dramatic confrontations. The use of props such as an old typewriter and telephone helped capture the early 1920s setting. 

“We wanted the set to have a more traditional decor to fit the period, but we also wanted it to reflect a part of ourselves. Like the rest of the house, it being so like quirky and eccentric, it’s literally what my apartment looks like,” Webster said. 

One notable addition was the use of early 1920s music, which enhanced the atmosphere and provided a nostalgic touch, as the music reflected the era and added an extra layer of authenticity to the production.

“Resnick Manor” showcased the remarkable talent within the NRT and Penn State community, offering a thought-provoking theatrical experience. With its mix of suspense, drama, and dark humor, the play continued NRT’s tradition of pushing boundaries and delivering a unique storytelling experience. 

“I don’t want [the audience] to come away from the production being like, ‘Oh that was a murder mystery.’ Instead, I wanted them to understand that it’s about two best friends who are in the process of understanding who they are. You can see this through the end monologue that Nicola delivers so incredibly well,” Webster said. “It’s really sentimental to me because I feel like, in a way, there is a part of myself that I put into these characters that shines through, especially in the way that the cast is playing them.” 

As always, No Refund Theatre offers its shows free of charge to anyone interested in attending. Showings of “Resnick Manor” will take place at 9 p.m. on Thursday, February 1, with two additional shows slated for 8 p.m. on February 2 and 3. All shows will take place in Forum 111.

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About the Author

Alex Waterman

Alex is a fourth-year student majoring in journalism and minoring in sociology. Her biggest accomplishment was reading 4000 pages of Game of Thrones this year, hoping her inner nerd would return. She is also extremely passionate about social issues. You can reach her at [email protected] with any comments or questions.

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