‘Last Mass’ Opening Night Plays Out Smoothly


Sofia Vela

Eddie, Georgie, Annie, Rudy, and Ellen (left to right) discuss the significance of religion over a game of Scrabble during the opening night of performance of “Last Mass”.

Tickets were sold out on opening night for Chaminade University of Honolulu’s fall play “The Last Mass at St. Casimir’s”, which took place on Friday in the Loo Theatre. Cast member Laila Ertz (who played the role of Annie) thought the first performance went without any hiccups or mistakes and is hoping for a similar outcome for the following seven shows (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.; next week’s showtimes will be Nov. 13, 14, 15, and 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 17 at 3 p.m.).  

“So far everything has been going smoothly,” director Bro. Gary Morris said after Friday’s opening night. “Liz, who has done three shows with us, has got extensive experience in Honolulu theater. She was really wonderful to take the role of the mother. Then, working with four new actors from Chaminade, who had never done a play here before, it’s amazing how far they came and what they are able to do.” 

Morris opened up auditions for the play during the first week of September. And by the following week, he had chosen CUH first-year forensic science major Ertz to play Annie, first-year psychology major Stoney Tulenna as Rudy, third-year environmental science major (and minor in business administration) Edward Adachi as Eddie, third-year history major Kevin Nakagawa as Georgie, and MBA program manager Liz Stone as Ellen.

One of Morris’ goals is to get as many CUH students in the play as possible, so he was pleased to assign four of the five roles to students. 

For 17 years now, Morris has chosen and directed 32 Chaminade plays and musicals. In preparation for his work, he orders and reads scripts in search of promising productions. Morris came across Tod Dudzick’s “The Last Mass at St. Casimir’s” this past summer and was surprised that the play, as clever and creative as it was, had received such little theater recognition. The “Last Mass” is the third installment of the “Over the Tavern” trilogy and, as this semester’s play would be the last fall production directed by Morris, he thought Dudzick’s piece was necessary to bring to Chaminade. 

“I am very pleased with it,” Morris said. “It’s a great show, and they’ve done wonderfully well with it.”

The play is set amidst 1977’s “blizzard of the century”, which has trapped the Pazinski family in its home/family-owned tavern. Unable to leave, each character is forced to come together to mend old family issues, such as lingering jealousy between brothers Eddie and Rudy, and the ongoing struggles of worrisome Annie, as well as confront their current situation with Georgie’s worsening illness and the selling of their childhood home. The show takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster, all while emphasizing the importance of family connectedness. 

“I think we got to be the family we really wanted to be, and I’m really proud of it all,” Ertz said.

The CUH Performing Arts Department has put on an hour and a half production that is open to the public for $10 and $5 for Chaminade students, faculty, and staff. Tickets are available online.