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The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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‘At The Wedding’ marks the final show for longtime theater professor Kathleen McKinley

Alyssa Benitez (left) plays the role of Carlo and Arium Andrews (right) portrays the character of Carly. (Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian)

Ouch! Hearts will be breaking on stage, but not without a good laugh.

The romantic-comedy “At The Wedding,” written by Bryna Turner and directed by Kathleen McKinley, opens Oct. 27 and runs through Nov. 4 at the Dennis and Cheryl Woods Theatre.

Carlo, played by Alyssa Benitez, crashes her ex-girlfriend’s wedding, only to find out the wedding is aggressively traditional and her ex is marrying into a heterosexual relationship.

“How do you deal with a truly broken heart at the wedding of the person who broke your heart?,” McKinley said.

This shock causes Carlo to feel like an outsider in a community she thought she knew. The play is a modern take on love with an angry protagonist who feels blindsided.

“It is a queer comedy, but it’s a romantic comedy first,” Benitez said.

The costumes are designed by Kristine Doiel, a professor, and student designer Sofia James. They have been working consistently since the beginning of the year to carefully create the pieces necessary for a wedding on stage.

“I have learned so much about the making of wedding dresses in this process,” James said.

After 40 years of directing, this will be McKinley’s final show at Fresno State. McKinley was the first woman to be hired as a director, acting teacher and department chair.

There are a total of eight roles in the play, a considerably smaller cast than usual. McKinley said this was intentional for her final show here because after 40 years at Fresno State, she did not feel the need to prove a point by having the largest cast or most extravagant set.

“I’ve done all of that before,” McKinley said.

Though the play is a rom-com, there are deep themes in it, Benitez told The Collegian.

“Anyone who’s ever dealt with loss or had something catastrophic happen to them and managed to get through it, will be able to relate to it,” she said.

The seriousness of heartbreak will be portrayed onstage.

Benitez, who is in every scene, said she lost her father two years ago and that experience connects her to Carlo, who battles against major loss in the play as well.

“I honor that they give me their trust,” McKinley said. “They put their whole heart and soul and everything out there for everyone to see.”

McKinley reflected on the process of the play and her time within the theatre department. While emotional, watching people grow artistically is something that has moved McKinley the most.

“These artists are blossoming,” she said.

Benitez plans on applying to grad schools for acting this January and is emotional about the end of an era at Fresno State. She is grateful to end her experience with McKinley.

“Kathleen is my favorite person. I think she knows that,” Benitez said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher.”

Tickets are available online and also through the Fresno State Theatre Instagram page.

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  • K

    Kathleen McKinleyOct 30, 2023 at 11:20 pm

    Thank you, Cynthia Carranza, for such a super article and preview for AT THE WEDDING! Great rehearsal shot, Jacqueline Carrillo!