Thursday, September 21, 2023

Theatre department brings ‘Milk Like Sugar’ to campus

It’s opening night. The audience is filled. The scene is set. The lights are starting to dim. The play is about to begin. But what the people don’t see is the crazy backstage. People are running around, making sure everything goes right.

A lot of things go into the making of a play. The directors have to decide which actors are best to play the parts, while the crew has to have every scene ready to change at the right moment. The costume designers need to have all the actors try on multiple outfits, making sure every single piece of clothing fits.

The Plattsburgh State theatre department’s latest play, “Milk Like Sugar,” is premiering March 5. Since the beginning of this semester, the cast and crew have been rehearsing non-stop to make opening night run perfectly.

“We had a short rehearsal period for this play,” Assistant Professor of Theatre and Director of Milk Like Sugar Shawna Mefferd Kelty said. “We didn’t start having consistent rehearsals until Feb. 3.”

Kelty said that though they haven’t had a lot of time, the cast has done a good job at creating their characters and bringing the story to life. Casting started in November, and Kelty said she was lucky to have so many talented students audition. After she casted the students, they read through the play before winter break started.

William Simone, the performing arts events coordinator, said the directors pick five or six plays for the theatre group to put on yearly.

“The goal of the theater department is to expand the theater and arts,” Simone said.

“Milk Like Sugar” was picked by Kelty after past students of hers told her the story needed to be told.

“I love the play, so that’s what drew me to it,” Kelty said. “The play is really about the protagonist, Annie Desmond, searching for her self-worth and finding her own path.”

Kelty said the premise follows main character Annie looking for a sense of love that she doesn’t have with her mom. Annie makes some questionable choices in her life, but even though they weren’t ideal or right, they were right for her.

English language arts major and marketing and French minor Marlie Jeanlus was casted as Annie, the lead part.

“It’s very nerve-wracking,” Jeanlus said. “It’s a shorter play, but it’s a lot of lines.”

Jeanlus switches back and forth between off stage and on stage. She decided to audition for the play after learning “Milk Like Sugar” was a prominent African-American lead play.

“I felt really pushed internally to try out, and I got the part,” Jeanlus said.

Jeanlus said she wants the audience to leave and feel they experienced emotion. She thinks the audience will be more connected to it than other plays that are shown.

“I want people to come to the show open-minded,” Jeanlus said. “I want them to feel moved or touched after seeing this play.”

Tickets for “Milk Like Sugar” can be bought at the Angell College Center or online at

“Milk Like Sugar” premieres March 5 and will run through March 8 at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Email Samantha Stahl at

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