By Colin Hubbell
Grand Rapids Community College’s theater production of “Stop Kiss” opens Thursday, Nov. 11 at Spectrum Theater.
“Stop Kiss” is a play by Diana Son and is set in modern day New York City. It tells the story of Sara and Callie, two women who are assaulted for sharing a kiss in public. Callie works as a traffic reporter for the city and helps Sara, a school teacher, get accustomed to her move to the Big Apple.
Throughout the GRCC production, directed by theater instructor Carrie McNulty, the audience sees the relationship between the two grow and evolve, with interspersed scenes taking place pre and post assault. The play highlights the difficulty of acceptance and sometimes dangerous side that comes along with being part of the LGBTQ+ community.
“The message of this play is so important, and that was part of the reason I auditioned,” said Jaclyn VerHolst, who plays the character Sara. “It was so exciting to be a part of it, because the fact that it’s like showing the behind the scenes of a LGBTQ relationship, which is just oftentimes, especially in West Michigan, isn’t much of a thing. I love the purity of it and like how special it is, and also bringing up the important topic of different hate crimes that have happened.”
The cast is led by Iriana Cotto and VerHolst, who play the roles of Callie Pax and Sara respectively. Both Cotto and VerHolst are 19-year-old, second-year students at GRCC. “Stop Kiss” marks their acting debut at GRCC despite having other experiences with acting in the past, either from high school or through other organizations.
Joining the leads in their GRCC acting debuts are Ryk Sacha as Detector Cole, Camriss Brown as Mrs. Winsley and the nurse, and lastly, Isazic Ortiz as Callie’s friend George.
Thursday’s opening night marks the final payoff of all the actors’ hard work memorizing scripts and rehearsing for over two hours every weekday for over a month.
Performances will start at 8 p.m. each night through Saturday, Nov. 13. Tickets are available to purchase currently online or upon opening night.