SBU Theater to Present the Contemporary Comedy ‘Dead Man’s Cell Phone’

The St. Bonaventure University theater program will present “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” a contemporary comedy, next week at the university’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

Nightly performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, through Saturday, March 23.

“Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” by American playwright Sarah Ruhl, is the story of Jean and her accidental involvement with a cell phone, its deceased owner and his very odd family.

“The play combines absurd humor, magical realism and romance to spin a very 21st century story about goodness, loneliness, bad business and the desire to connect,” said Dr. Ed. Simone, professor of theater, theater program director, and director for this production. “The laughs in this play are fresh and sharp. Sarah Ruhl looks at our lives and how we try to connect, to find the goodness in people. We have a fabulous ensemble of actors and technicians who bring genuine energy to the comedy, the action and the romance as well.”

The original Washington, D.C., production at the Wooly Mammoth Theater won the 2008 Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play. The New York Times called “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” a “beguiling comedy,” and the San Francisco Gate called it “a joyride” and “strangely touching as well.”

This adult comedy features a cast of experienced SBU Theater actors and technicians, as well as some newcomers. 

“Freshman biology major Sarah Wright plays Jean and junior education major and theater minor Matthew Tyssee plays Gordon. Together with theater major Nathan Nictoera, who plays Dwight, they form an unusual and very funny love triangle involving black market intrigue, the afterlife and a bit of magical romance,” said Simone.

Other cast members include St. Bonaventure graduate student MK Killen as Hermia, Gordon’s sister; sophomore theater and communications double-major Emily Weber as Mrs. Gottlieb, Gordon’s mother; senior theater major Taylor Morton-Lewis, who plays the strange woman who appears with different accents and raincoats; and senior theater major Jean Carlos Aponte and junior psychology major/theater minor Cameron Pettrone, who play the pair of angel waiters who guide the action of the play and transform to set each scene.

SBU Theater audiences will have seen many of these actors in productions ranging from “Hamlet” to “An Iliad,” as well as “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” and “A Christmas Carol,” said Simone. 

“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” also features the work of junior theater major Lizz Freeman, who serves as the production’s stage manager. Freeman has stage-managed several SBU Theater productions and appeared on stage in “Hamlet.” 

Rebecca Misenheimer, associate professor of theater, designed the set, costumes and lighting for the play. The production includes projections as well as lighting and set effects.

“It was great fun working on this quirky style of comedy,” said Misenheimer. “The film noir homages in the script gave me lots to play with for the visual elements of the production.”

Regional dance instructor Tamara Hilmey choreographed the dance elements of the production, and sophomore psychology major Lauren Barry designed and assembled the props. Barry’s prop work on SBU Theater’s “A Christmas Carol” won her a citation from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, Region II, in January.

Crew members for “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” include first-time SBU Theater ensemble members Andrew Wawro, a senior political science major; senior sociology major Nekruma-Nyle Wilson; senior environmental studies major Emman Bibiano; and senior marketing major Matt Abendroth.

“Dead Man’s Cell Phone” contains adult language and subjects, and may not be suitable for younger audiences, said Simone.

Tickets for “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” are $8 at full price, $6 for senior citizens, SBU students and employees. For more information or to reserve tickets, call the Quick Center Box Office at (716) 375-2494. All tickets are for assigned seats.


Free student “rush seats” are made available at 6:30 p.m. the evening of each performance at the Quick Box Office. A student must show up in person with a valid student ID to secure one ticket.

Pictured: Cast members of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” are (front row, from left) Matthew Tyssee, Sarah Wright, and, seated at the table, MK Killen and Taylor Morton-Lewis. In back (from left) are Nathan Nicotera, Emily Weber, Cameron Pettrone and Jean Carlos Aponte.


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