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Luther College Theater: From Vibrators to Galileo

Luther College theater productions can never be praised enough. They are forever stupendous, tackling complex themes with poise, grace, talent, and devotion from all involved: actors, stage crew, set designers, musicians, anyone and everyone who dedicates their time to producing beautiful and moving works of art.

I have been a fan from the beginning, ever since attending In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) early in my freshman year. The ability of our student-actors to poignantly address gender relations and the intricacies of love was awe inspiring, all the more impressive for being centered around the antiquated theory of women’s hysteria. Ever since, I get a thrill of excitement whenever tickets are released for a production, and I have not been disappointed yet. Just a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending The Life of Galileo, a play bearing the special distinction of containing music composed by Luther’s very own student, Pablo Gómez-Estévez.

The evening of the play came with a torrential rain, and I huddled under an umbrella as I walked to the Center for the Arts. I needed to arrive early because I had put-off-until-tomorrow ordering my free student ticket one-too-many-yesterdays. Thankfully, a person is always able to snag a ticket at the door if they arrive ahead of time.

I got my ticket and stood in the lobby waiting for my friend Jeffrey to come trudging in out of the downpour. To pass the time, I perused the playbill, and was delighted to find that my freshman roommate, Erik Mueterthies, would be playing the lead. He’s a stand-up fellow with a knack for subtle characterizations.

The play, itself, was a massive tour de force as the penetrating Galileo boldly faced his detractors. Nevertheless, at no point did he come across as nauseating or superhuman. Instead, Erik delivered a character who was dedicated wholeheartedly to science and to himself, often arrogant, and a sometimes a little conniving. Time and again, when the audience has doubts about the morality of his decisions, Galileo reminds us, “I like to eat!” something he cannot do as a prisoner or a pauper. Watching the play, one never forgets how human Galileo is, seeing him become more exhausted from enduring the fury of the Inquisition and more haggard as his accomplishments are stripped away and age takes its toll. Despite being so human, though, Erik remarkably delivers a performance in which the broken man impresses us as hesitantly heroic.

Theater at Luther always makes one think, and I sometimes believe that it’s a pity it isn’t touted as the college’s crown jewel. I have attended London’s theaters and Broadway’s Lion King; I have seen them and many shows besides, but they all appear tarnished in comparison to the astounding accomplishments of Luther’s visionary and dedicated theater team.

Bravo! I say.

(By the way, if you can find the time in November, why not come and see what I’m talking about. Tickets are available for a production of Rent. I do not doubt that it will impress.)

The Center for the Arts, home of Luther College Theater.

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