Leading lady

Archbishop Ryan graduate Casey Parker is taking on the titular role in West Chester University’s production of ‘Antigone.’

On stage: Casey Parker, an Archbishop Ryan graduate who is now a senior theatre major at West Chester University, stars as Antigone in an all-female production of the Sophocles play. Source: Rob Keller

Casey Parker has come a long way since she was an ogre.

To be more accurate, she only played an ogre in Archbishop Ryan’s theater production of Shrek the Musical, where she played Princess Fiona’s greener alter ego. It was this experience, as well as other stage productions at the school, that got her interested in theater before she graduated in 2015.

“Being painted green every night solidified theater as something I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she said.

Now a senior theatre major at West Chester University, Parker is preparing to play Antigone in an all-female production of the Sophocles play. She’ll take her first bow this Friday at the Swope Music Building and Performing Arts Center.

After participating in joint auditions for this show and the school’s production of My Fair Lady, Parker said she hoped she would be chosen for Antigone.

“The story is so needed right now in today’s news world,” she said. “We need a little bit of what’s moral.”

Parker said it’s necessary for people to “hold up a mirror to what we’re going through right now” and self-examine.

“[The play] is about what it means to stand up for something you believe in and how that affects people around you,” she said. “[It is also about] society’s views on what is right and wrong, and how society has recognized these issues but doesn’t do anything to help when someone is standing up for these things by themselves.”

Parker said she wanted her performance to feel like a real person as opposed to a caricature of a woman in ancient Greek tragedy. To relate to her character, she drew upon their shared traits like having familiar bonds.

“It was hard to find things to relate to, but there are things I do relate to, such as being a young woman in times where being a young woman isn’t exactly what you want to be,” she said.

The script brings an entire chorus onto the stage to react to the main characters and story, which Parker compared to bringing the audience on stage. Parker called the chorus the basis and strength of the show.

“The chorus is all women acting like old men,” she said.

Working on an all-female production felt comfortable to Parker, who said the ensemble felt very safe with each other. She said it wasn’t too different from working in a mixed-gender cast, but that she felt easier with making a mistake or trying something different with her character.

“We can see what women can do together as a group,” she said.

Parker’s first stage performance was an ensemble role in an eighth-grade production of Beauty and the Beast. It inspired her to continue being in productions throughout high school and study theater in college, where she learned the intricacies of the field.

“The more I learn, the more I fall in love,” she said.

After graduating next year, Parker hopes to continue working professionally in regional theaters around the area, and has also considered auditioning to be a performer on a cruise line.

But before she looks too far ahead, she has a show to perform, and a leg to break.

“Our goal for the show was for it to be epic, and with all the production elements and cast members, it’s shaping up to be that way,” she said. ••