TENSIONS ARE HIGH: Hanover College theatre students rehearse a scene from the college’s upcoming production of “Night of the Iguana.” Cast members pictured include, clockwise from left, Emily McMath as Maxine, Tessa McShane as Hannah, Michael Hedges as Pedro and Samuel Tyo as Shannon. (Staff photo by Brett Eppley/beppley@madisoncourier.com)
TENSIONS ARE HIGH: Hanover College theatre students rehearse a scene from the college’s upcoming production of “Night of the Iguana.” Cast members pictured include, clockwise from left, Emily McMath as Maxine, Tessa McShane as Hannah, Michael Hedges as Pedro and Samuel Tyo as Shannon. (Staff photo by Brett Eppley/beppley@madisoncourier.com)
Hanover College Theatre will present the tale of a troubled priest with performances of a Tennessee Williams classic this weekend.

“The Night of the Iguana” will debut at 7:30 p.m. today at The Other Place on the Hanover College campus. Additional performances will given at the same time Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“Iguana” was written by Williams in 1961, but takes place at a run down resort in 1940 Mexico. A defrocked priest, Lawrence Shannon, struggling with alcoholism and a few other vices is acting as a tour guide for a group of women from a Baptist college. While leading the trip, Shannon finds himself drawn to the young niece of a woman in the group. When the young woman’s aunt finds out and threatens Shannon, he turns to an old friend who is running the Mexican hotel.

Eventually, it becomes clear that this old friend, Maxine, has feelings for Shannon herself.

Matters become more complicated with the introduction of what seems to be another love interest – a young artist named Hannah.

“He has a lot of problems,” Hanover College theater professor and the production’s director Mark Fearnow said.

“The dramatic question is: Will the Hannah character, this sensitive artist, be able to save Reverend Shannon from his demons?”

Fearnow said he partly chose “Iguana” because of his own history with Williams’ plays. The first piece he directed was a Williams one-act and since then he has directed both “The Glass Menagerie,” and Woody Harrelson in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

As “one of the other major Williams plays,” Fearnow said, this play was chosen because it’s never been performed at Hanover. Of course, having the right actors to fuel the fiery production helped too.

“The plays are so beautifully written,” Fearnow said of the draw to Williams plays. However, he admitted that when compared to classical plays like those of Shakespeare, the time period makes for a larger challenge.

“It’s a difficult play to stage because it’s realism. And realism is hard because you have all these props, you have to have all these real things.”

Finding pieces that look like they might have filled a mid-century hotel in Mexico isn’t always easy. In a classical play, those props would simply be created, rather than found.

Working on the small stage of The Other Place can add an additional challenge for the show’s director, actors and crew. Still, Fearnow said, inventive set design will bring the hotel to life – complete with three rooms and opaque walls that will allow audiences to see its occupants.

Performances are free, but because space is limited, attendees should reserve seats online by visiting www.hanover.edu/academics/programs/theatre/productions.

The cast and crew includes: Ariel Allen, Holden August, Katelynn Dudzik, Haley Eldridge, Dean Gnadinger, Krista Grendze, Michael Hedges, Lindsay Holley, Cara Hoskins, Anna Marie Kemple, Alex Kilner, Megan Koons, Taryn Mayer, Emily McMath, Tessa McShane, Kailin Mitchell, Wezi Mulamba, Dakota Phillips, Aaron Rogers and Samuel Tyo.