Spotlight Arena Theater to host its first food fight in South Philly


Alex Samuels rides his bike during rehearsal for “Gemini” as his character Herschel Weinberger. He said his character has been challenging to portray, but is having fun with the production. Photo by Marissa McIntyre/The Jambar.

The Youngstown State University Department of Theater and Dance will take the audience to Philadelphia to meet the town’s resident crazy lady, a confused boy and other big personalities.

For those YSU theater students involved with “Gemini,” the production has provided new challenges and the opportunity to explore characters outside of their comfort zone.

The play is about two sets of neighbors with polar-opposite personalities. For Alex Samuels, 21, who plays Herschel Weinberger, his challenge is portraying a 16-year-old character with a 10-year-old mindset.

“My character is so fun, though, because of his extreme personality. He’s eccentric and annoying, but you learn to love him,” Samuels said. “He’s also obsessed with public transportation and making bus noises.”

Samuels’ character is the son of Rebecca Anderson’s character, Bunny Weinberger, who Anderson says is an “anti-mom.”

“There’s nothing Bunny can’t do. She’s mostly drunk [and] always has a cigarette in her hand,” Anderson said. “And there is a part in the script where it literally says, ‘Beat the shit out of Herschel with a purse.’”

Anderson said she’s worked with kids at summer camps in the past and can’t imagine what would happen if her character was put in that situation.

“This is our second show together,” Samuels said about Anderson. “We’ve been friends since I was a freshman, so it’s a big deal for her to be my mom.”

Although Bunny is an anti-mother, Anderson said she has moments in the show where she calls her son a genius.

“I love my son, but at the same time, he’s an embarrassment,” Anderson said. Living next door to the Weinbergers are the Geminianis.

John Cruz plays Francis Geminiani, who is a Harvard student struggling with his identity.

On the eve of his 21st birthday, Francis says, “I’m turning 21, and everything is sinking.”

Cruz said his character is one of the most relatable in the play.

“He feels like he’s 21, and he hasn’t figured out who he is yet. It sort of sends him into panic mode. He’s very confused about his life,” Cruz said. “He’s also confused if he loves the girls or the boys.”

A lot of the conflict that occurs in the play involves Francis trying to figure out if he loves the character Judith or the character Randy.

One of the fun points in the play is when the neighbors are singing “Happy Birthday” to him, and he starts a food fight.

“We haven’t been able to get through a scene without laughing,” Cruz said, adding that this scene has also been one of the most challenging. “It’s such a funny script. It makes our job of getting the jokes and telling the jokes so fun.”

The play may be a family story, but the cast said it’s no place to bring the whole family.

“If you can get into an R-rated movie, then you’ll be fine,” Cruz said.

The characters portray drug and alcohol use and include a plethora of sexual innuendos.

The play will be performed in Bliss Hall’s Spotlight Arena Theater from April 4 to 7 and again from April 12 to 14.