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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

New plays opens as resounding success

‘Booked and Blessed… OR BUST’ makes debut at NIU
A set of stairs sits above a dingey couch and desk in a room with poster-covered walls on the stage of the Black Box Theatre for NIU’s production of “Booked and Blessed… OR BUST.” The play will have its second week of showings from April 11 to April 13. (Caleb Johnson | Northern Star)

Audience members braved the cold, wind and rain to come and see the latest School of Theatre and Dance performance, “Booked and Blessed… OR BUST.”

Directed by former SOTD faculty member Frankie DiCiaccio, the play gives attendees a glimpse at the inner workings of the theater and entertainment business while also being a comedic meta-analysis. 

The play, originally titled “Something, Somewhere, Somehow,” was written by Alexander Perez. 

Perez is a Cuban-American playwright from New York City, and his experiences in the city are reflected in the play.

According to DiCiaccio, Perez had revised the script last summer at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York and came up with the current name, “Booked and Blessed… OR BUST.” 

The story itself looks at the ins and outs of different people in the New York theater scene, such as actors, a writer and director, and two brothers running a booking 

For one performer, Gina Cioffi, a second-year graduate acting student who played Shannon, her life experiences helped her get a feel for her character.  

“I think Shannon was quite close to me, so getting into her character wasn’t a big jump for me,” Cioffi said. 

Cioffi mentioned how important playing a strong female character is.

She highlighted how the show sheds light on unrepresented parts of the entertainment industry.  

“Shannon represents the side of the industry that often gets overlooked: writers and directors,” Cioffi said. 

Cioffi also mentioned both how important the show is in a post-COVID-19 world and that sharing of joy and humor is necessary in these troubling times.  

The natural chemistry between the actors also helped to elevate the experience.  

The friendship between Lucille, played by graduate acting student Audrey Geysbeek, and Shannon felt real, like when Shannon gave Lucille advice about using Mace and the jokes and banter they shared.  

The costumes were also bright and colorful. From neon jumpsuits to cute red sweater dresses, the costumes brought levity to the show.   

The set was impressive, as they had to provide a variety of scenes. 

These scenes included a diner, with a realistic looking red booth that looked like something you would see in an old movie, and a talent agency office. The production team even built a staircase attached to the agency office that connected to the second level of the theater. 

“I knew I wanted to use levels,” DiCiaccio said. “New York is a city of height, and so you need to have height and references both above and below.”

According to DiCiaccio, it took almost a month for production to finish the main set piece. 

The production team’s efforts paid off, as the first night sold out, and the audience gave the actors a standing ovation at the last showing of opening weekend.  

There will be one more round of showings from April 11 to April 13. 

As always, tickets are available online and must be purchased ahead of seeing the show. Tickets are free for NIU students and $12 for non-NIU students. Adults are $20, and seniors are $18. 


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