Review: Paper Tiger does not disappoint Black Box crowd

Savanna Hennig

The sounds of read-aloud newspaper headlines filled the ears of the small audience in The Black Box Theatre. The set was small and intimate, presenting a realistic view of a modern journalism office, garbage and all. The lights went down, and the mechanical whirring of a printing press made the office come to life. The small nine-person cast spoke personality into the show.

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“A Paper Tiger in the Rain,” written by Panowski play prize winner David J. Swanson, had it’s world premiere on Tuesday, Sept. 30. in NMU’s very own Black Box Theatre. I was honored to join the audience on opening night and experience what this show had to offer.

The show opens on a scene with the staff of the daily newspaper “The Beacon Telegraph” celebrating their new editor-in-chief, Nathan Parker. While congratulatory at first, the show takes a turn as the retiring editor-in-chief tells Parker privately that the newspaper is quickly going downhill financially.

With over 20 years of journalism experience under his belt, he discovers that his dream job is now a sinking ship. “A Paper Tiger in the Rain” is about this man’s journey in his attempt to save his dream from breaking apart while at his new editor-in-chief desk.

Marquette resident Rusty Bowers gives an unforgettable performance as Nathan Parker. The audience gets to watch this man at the high peak of finally landing his dream job to the low points of watching his dreams and goals crumble. Bowers will leave a mark in your brain that is still there hours after leaving the theatre. I give my personal kudos: Well done.

The remaining eight members of the cast in the show are also well-developed. Although giving a slight hint of awkward nervousness in the beginning of the show, each and every one of the actors on stage portrayed a memorable, relatable character. More than once I had to remind myself that these are actors on stage rather than experienced editors with children at home.

Every actor was in tune with their character, and the intimacy of the Black Box Theatre allows the audience to see every carved nuance in their performances. There were subtle gestures: a clench of a hand on a chair, a tremble of a lip, a wiping of the eyes. These nuances made the show enjoyable to watch closely from the edge of your seat.

“A Paper Tiger in the Rain” is directed by Broadway veteran and NMU theater professor Paul Truckey. One could glance across the small theater and see Truckey sitting among the audience, taking in the emotional performance with a smile.

Hours after you leave The Black Box, you will be thinking about the powerful story told on

stage. I would absolutely recommend that everyone snag a ticket to watch this performance while they still can. According to NMU’s online ticket office, the theatre has sold out tickets for its premiere week, but has tickets available for the following week beginning Tuesday, Oct. 7. The final performance will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11.

Do not wait to get your tickets. This show has a tremendous amount of work put into it, whether it be the incredibly real acting or the newspaper-lined stage.