“Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls,” Emphasizes The Intricacies of Life

A talking dog, piñata, La Brea Tar Pits, dinosaurs, volcanoes, and the languages of German, Hawaiian, and Spanish are used as devices to convey dramatic irony in this absurdist play. 

The character Joy, played by Ryen Weston, is like many of this coming-of-age story about young adults figuring out what they want out of life and questioning those expectations. Photo by Julie Marasco

SUNY New Paltz students are performing a production of “Aloha, Say The Pretty Girls,” from Oct. 20 to Oct. 29 in the Parker Theatre. The play was created by Award-winning playwright Naomi Iizuka. This production is directed by Tony Speciale, an acclaimed creator and director in his own right, with a pedigree on and off Broadway, and at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and La MaMa. As for the plot of the play itself, it deftly examines the intricacies of adulthood through vulnerable hilarity. Structurally, it uses monologues to convey the nuances of  sexuality, marriage, love, and death.

The play carries a cast of ten characters, one a talking dog, and comprises a series of interconnected vignettes that explore the characters’ lives as they grapple with their present and past. The characters are all trying to figure life out, discerning what and who they desire and need, who they are and who they should be, and why they exist and what is in their future. These themes will likely resonate with students on this campus and they undoubtedly echo concepts that anyone could relate to. 

“Aloha” uses human voices in an imaginative way to transport you to its varying locales. Jungle noises transport you to Brooklyn, New York. The sounds of the surf carries you to Hawaii. The rushing of a snowstorm places you in Alaska. The play guides through characters’ lives as they experience marriage and divorce, death and rebirth, employment and unemployment, love and hate, gender and sex, companionship and loneliness—all symbolizing the cyclicality of life.

Act one takes place in Brooklyn and begins with Will wanting more from his relationship with Vivian. Vivian is blindsided by the revelation. Joy, Will’s new lover, is love-struck. A manic appearing Wendy starts a temporary position at a pet shop. Peter currently works at the pet shop and finds Wendy annoying. Jason is late for a job he loathes. Derek is Jason’s roommate, and he is entrusted with Martin, Jason’s dog. Martin runs away because Derek is busy writing a manuscript. Richard is rich and still unsatisfied with life. Myrna has an answer or retort for everything. Each character goes through inner conflicts that continue into act two where the setting changes to Alaska, Borneo, and Hawaii.

Ahead of the production, students in DMJ’s Feature Writing class interviewed five cast members to get their varied perspectives on the play, their roles, and how it reflects on who they are as emerging actors early in their careers. Read on to meet:

Ryen Weston, who plays the role of Joy, a naïve serial monogamist.

Abbe Schultes, who plays Vivian, a character deeply afraid of change.

Mya Espinoza, who plays Wendy, a talkative and provocative sex-positive woman.  

Genesis Ramos-Bravo, who plays Myrna, a central character who elevates everyone else.

Simon Woods, who plays Derek, a frustrated writer feeling pressured to find success.

Friday, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 21 at 8 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m.(talk-back following performance), Thursday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28 at p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29 at 2 p.m.(talk-back following performance). Purchase tickets online, at Parker Theatre (located at 43 Southside Loop, New Paltz, NY 12561), call 845-257-3880, or email boxoffice@newpaltz.edu

Imari Armstrong

Imari Armstrong is a senior at SUNY New Paltz pursuing a major in digital media and journalism. Armstrong transferred from Dutchess Community College after receiving an associate’s degree in communications and media. They interned at The Westchester County Press and The Legislative Gazette and have been published in The Little Rebellion.

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