Last year, a 2011 Ohio State theater alumna named Audrey Rush became so enthralled by the play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” by Edward Albee that she created her own theater company in order to have complete artistic control of the project.
Rush’s company, Adrenaline Theatre Group, is now preparing to open its second show, “The Shadow Box,” running from Wednesday until March 5 at MadLab theater downtown. The 1977 Tony Award-winning play by Michael Cristofer addresses family dynamics involving terminally ill parents.
Four OSU alumni are cast in the play, including Rush; John Connor, a 2013 economics graduate; Annie McAlphine, a 2015 theater graduate; and Scott Douglas Wilson, a 2009 graduate with a master’s degree in acting. Rush works on fundraising, casting, organizing rehearsals and other production functions in addition to playing the role of Maggie in the play.
“‘The Shadow Box’ is a play about three different family units as they deal with the oncoming passing of a family member,” Rush said. “I am the wife of someone who is dying and trying to come to terms with the reality of the situation as well as raise their son.”
Rush and longtime friend Chad Hewitt share responsibility as associate producers of the Adrenaline Theatre Group, often playing multiple roles in the production and performance aspects of their endeavors.
The theater company keeps costs low by renting inexpensive venues and equipment from MadLab, which offers the lowest rates, Rush said. In addition to cheap rentals, Adrenaline also keeps set designs abstract and minimal to keep costs down.
“A great thing about it is we are able to put on productions that have quality and personal connection that we truly love without having the pressure of having a four- or five-show season,” Rush said.
Rush accredits Hewitt with selecting “The Shadow Box” and gives him full creative liberties within their minimal set choices. While the first project was inspired and directed by Rush, Hewitt took the reigns for the production of Adrenaline’s second play. This is Hewitt’s debut as a director.
“As an actor, the focus is on your role; as a director you are responsible for all roles. It is just a lot more work, to put it simply,” Hewitt said.
Rush and Hewitt collaborate on fundraising and promotional efforts. Adrenaline Theatre Group makes short videos to attract donors.
Donors select from five video challenges, including a Britney Spears video remake, a Kirk vs. Spock death battle and a milk gallon-chugging challenge. A $1 donation is equivalent to one vote.
“We thought for this year we wanted to drive the fundraising a little harder. The whole point is people like that two- to three-minute funny video,” Rush said.
Hewitt and Rush designed a website, adrenalinetheatre.squarespace.com, highlighting their upcoming cast and productions. Ticket sales and participation in the viral video donation challenges are also accessible through the group’s website.
“The Shadow Box” is set to be performed at 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, as well as March 4 – 5 at the MadLab theater, located at 227 N. 3rd St. Tickets are $15.