Part of a trilogy by actor, musician and playwright Jeff Daniels, Escanaba in da Moonlight is set up upper Michigan. Although the core of the play is a tale about man versus nature, its effect is closer to the comedy of Daniels' own Dumb and Dumber than to the grim tale of The Deer Hunter.
Brandon Cox, Spoon Player Cum Alien Abductee
Actor and musician Brandon Cox puts away his drum and the set of spoons that he's been playing in the band for Shawnee's opener Honky Tonk Angels to appear in Escanaba.
"I play a character who's been abducted by aliens and returned to earth with a curious perspective and a very peculiar way of talking," Cox says. "I had learned all my lines for the show before we got into actual rehearsal, and I've had to relearn them with this new accent. It's been a bit of a strain."
The Hanover Connection
Shawnee always employs a group of actors from Hanover College. "Where one Hanover student goes, another follows," Cox guesses. "A lot of theatre work at my level is really word of mouth and networking, so that's what happened. In my case, Shawnee veteran Jake Miller is also a Hanover grad' and he's the one who talked to me about the opportunity."
Versatility Is The Key
Actors who work at Shawnee during the summer are always busy; Cox is no exception. "Right after Escanaba in da Moonlight, I'll be taking a break from acting to work on set construction for Steel Magnolias. But from then on I've got parts in our melodrama The Curse of the Doom Mine, the Sherlock Holmes play and The Man Who Came to Dinner. Frankly, it can be exhausting and you really have to pace yourself, but it's a great opportunity."