Making magic real is the job of Courtney Dean ’19, the stage manager for the apocalyptic play “Marisol,” in which a war being waged in the heavens spills into New York City. “Marisol” opens at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 1 at the Allen Theatre in the Seaver Theatre Complex, located at 300 E. Bonita Ave., Claremont, CA.

The play is centered around Marisol Perez, a 26-year-old New Yorker who loses the protection of her guardian angel. The angel trades her wings for a submachine gun to lead a revolution against the senile God who cannot maintain goodness and order in the world.

For Dean, a Romance languages and literatures major, the challenge was figuring out how to convey the play’s magical realism unto the stage.

“In the script, Jose Rivera describes magical effects without saying how it will be done in a performance. So it is left to the design team to decide how they are going to tackle these issues,” says Dean, whose goal as stage manager is to “ensure a smooth execution of the show.”

Marisol play rehearsal scene

“One of the biggest obstacles was the angel. Throughout the entire show, the angel is supposed to be flying around the stage, watching over Marisol. We depicted this by making use of the balcony in the theater. When you watch the show, keep an eye on the angel. While she is not often the main focus of the show, her presence influences the entire show. Other special effects were done by combining light, sound and projections.” 

Although this is the first time Dean has taken on the full responsibility of being a stage manager, she is no novice to theatre. Dean started doing theatre as a seventh grader, playing a grandmother in a musical version of Cinderella. She continued theatre in high school, where her interests started changing from performance to technical theatre. Last year, she was an assistant stage manager for the play “Trojan Women: A Love Story” at Pomona.

Dean joined the Pomona College Department of Theatre and Dance during her sophomore year and was “welcomed with open arms.” Theatre has been her favorite part of being at Pomona: “There is no group more kind, more creative and more fun than theatre people. Every cast and crew I've worked with has felt like family. I am particularly grateful for Michele Miner, the production manager. I was very nervous about taking on the role of stage manager, but she has walked me through every step of the way.”

“‘Marisol’ will be an incredibly unique experience. The Allen Theatre is a black box, which means the seating can be arranged in any way. Marisol has audience members on two sides of the stage, and buildings on the other two sides. The black walls act as a void, which allows the viewer to be completely immersed in the set. It is very intimate, and we are completely transported to the apocalyptic world of New York City. This is a great opportunity for people to see the limitless possibilities of theatre.”

Performances of “Marisol” will be held at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 1 through Saturday, March 3, and also at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4, at the Allen Theatre (300 E. Bonita Ave., Claremont). Tickets are $11 general admission and $6 for students, faculty, staff and seniors.