Misericordia Players Performing the Shakespeare Play “Once”


Lauren DeRemer, Reporter

“Once” will make its Northeastern Pennsylvania debut when the Misericordia Players perform the Shakespeare play April 7-10 at Lemmond Theater in Insalaco Hall.

Theatre Program Director and English Professor Dr. Rebecca Steinberger wants the Players to put on a show that has never been held at Misericordia University or anywhere in Northeastern Pennsylvania. “Once” fits that criteria.

“I also want to have productions at Misericordia that are not recycled,” Steinberger said.

The rights for “Once” were not made available until March 2020, she added.

This musical is about the power of overcoming boundaries and the impactfulness of music.

“Working class guy meets immigrant girl on the streets of Dublin and they start making music together,” Steinberger said, adding that the play deals with immigration, which makes its message relevant in 2022.

“Once” is also about hope and love.

Beth Cote, senior English and Secondary Education major and president of the MU players, said, “’Once’ is about a man who is down on his luck that meets a girl who changes his outlook on life, and he does the same to her,” explaining the musical is about a sad guy and a happy girl meeting and falling in love.

“This is something different that talks about immigration and the immigration issues that we are very familiar with in our own country,” said Steinberger. “It’s a love that crosses boundaries, unrequited love, but again, no one dies, and it’s funny.”

Cote plays the role of Girl, the female lead.

“I think the fact that she’s unnamed allows her to be universal and allows the anonymity of her story to be easily connected with,” said Cote, who expect the audience will find a connection with someone who is optimistic.

This musical sends an important message about culture.

“It’s very important to honor Eastern European culture, especially with what’s going on in Ukraine right now,” said Cote, referring to the month-long Russian invasion in that country.

This musical is also about chance.

“The connotation that the word once had, especially in relation to our show, is that this is an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime,” Code added. “I think that the message that this show is giving is to not let those rare opportunities go.”

Covid-19 has made it difficult for the Misericordia Players to perform shows for the public but, as restrictions begin to lessen, it is becoming easier.

“I’m confident that, as restrictions continue to let up, we will be able to stage our productions to a larger audience,” said Steinberger, who would like to see as many people as possible attend the shows. “We took precautions that we were not even required to take in the fall, including social distancing in the audience.”

Even during the worst part of the pandemic, the MU Players performed live theatre, but were unable to perform for a live audience.

“It seemed like a daunting, near impossible task during the pandemic, when we couldn’t do much, but in fall 2020 and spring 2021, we still utilized the theatre and put on shows,” she said.

Cote said that actors are wearing masks during rehearsals, when possible,

“If it is a singing rehearsal, we are social distanced and separated,” she said, hoping that by the time the show is performed, actors will wear face shields as opposed to masks. “We are trying to be as comfortable as we can while also putting on the best show that we can.”

Steinberger has had a love for the theatre since she was a child and attended Theatre on the Green at then College Misericordia. She has attended shows in London, on Broadway, and at many universities and high schools.

“I am always left in a sense of sheer awe at what happens when done right,” she said. “You lose the sense of yourself as a member of the audience sitting in some random building or space theatre watching other people perform.”

Cote has been a part of theatre since she was a child and plans to continue her theatre experience by serving as a director at a school.

“I feel ready,” she said.

“Once” will be Cote’s last show at Misericordia. Over the last year, she has had to take on more responsibilities within the MU theatre which has made her ready to direct her own shows in the future.

After acting for many years, Cote has gained life experience through theatre.

“Art is always meant to hold up the mirror,” she said, adding that theatre means expression. That expression, she believes, allows actors who may not be comfortable in their own skin to become more confident. She also said theatre allows people to see things in other people they may not be willing to see themselves.

One of Steinberg’s favorite memories of theatre was seeing Andrew Scott in a performance of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

“I left shaking,” she said, remembering how captivated she was by the show. She said that anything involving Shakespeare has a special place in her heart, which is why the first post-pandemic show at Misericordia was “Much Ado About Nothing,” another Shakespeare play.

Cote’s favorite memory of theatre at Misericordia University was during the final show of “Jesus Christ Superstar” which took place in spring 2019 right before the Covid-19 shutdown. Prior to that show, the curtain had to be held for 30 minutes because people kept arriving.

“We were all standing backstage, talking about how cool it was that so many people wanted to come see this show,” she said.

Any student who wishes to be a part of the Misericordia Players is invited to attend MU Players meetings that are posted on the MYMU portal or email either Dr. Rebecca Steinberger or Beth Cote.