By Jessika Perez
Grand Rapids Community College’s production of “Tigers Be Still,” a comedy about depression, opened Thursday, Oct. 14.
The play, written by Kim Rosenstock and directed by Tom Kaechele, will run Oct. 14 -16 at 8 p.m. in Spectrum Theater, located in Downtown Grand Rapids. The show takes a look at different faces of depression through its five characters: sisters Sherry and Grace, their mother, and father and son: Joseph and Zack. The show remains true to its comedy genre all the while touching on tough subjects such as alcoholism, job insecurity, grief, abandonment, chronic illness and body image. As a warning, strong language is used.
“(The show) made it a more approachable sort of situation so that it wasn’t as heavy,” said Eliana Hilliker, 21, GRCC student from Allendale. Hilliker plays the main protagonist Sherry, a recently graduated art therapist trying to pull her family through depression while taking on a new job and troubled first client.
“So you really could come to process it but you could also come to enjoy yourselves,” she added. Hilliker echoes Sherry’s can-do attitude with, “Life sucks sometimes, but you can always find a reason to keep going and to keep trying.”
Though it explores deep topics and layered characters, this show is far from deadpan. The character Grace pulls good laughs with her strange antics – she refuses to leave the couch and a karaoke machine is involved.
The character Zack, an 18-year-old with anger issues, is played by student Sky Rodriguez, 20, from Grand Rapids.
“‘Tigers’ has always been just something that I’ve always liked whether or not it touched on depression,” Rodriguez said. “It’s more of the light comedy that a lot of people can decipher if they can laugh at this thing or not – it’s just always been really good.”
Show dates for “Tigers Be Still” were originally set for March 2020. The cast recalls Kaechele receiving a phone call during a rehearsal informing everyone on campus to evacuate immediately.
“It was like the most eerie thing, like the whole campus was closed and that was about two weeks before our original production dates. And then it locked down.” -Hilliker
When students were able to return to campus, Kaechele reached out to the cast to reprise their roles and finally perform for an audience.
“We had to relearn everything,” Rodriguez recounts, but altogether felt better the second time around. “We felt like we were more prepared in how we addressed this entire thing instead of how we were acting when we were first doing it.”
Tickets may be purchased online or by calling (616) 234-3946. Prices are as follows: $5 for GRCC students, $8 for faculty and staff, and $12 for the general public. Masks are required.