Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

At JU, the Show Must Go on; Neither a Broken Leg nor Chopped-Off Hair Can Stop 'The Grapes of Wrath'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

At JU, the Show Must Go on; Neither a Broken Leg nor Chopped-Off Hair Can Stop 'The Grapes of Wrath'

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND

One cast member is soldiering on despite breaking her leg in three places. Another chopped off her waist-length brown tresses for the sake of her art.

The two students said it's worth it to be in Jacksonville University's production of The Grapes of Wrath, based on John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Show time is 7:30 tonight, with five other performances this month in the newly renovated Swisher Theatre at 2800 University Blvd. N.

Since she was little, Emily Kraudel said she yearned for long locks. At 18, they reached her waist. But several weeks ago, she cut her hair into a 1930s-style bob to play 12-year-old Ruthie Joad.

"I don't mind doing anything for a role if it helps me get into character," said Kraudel, a freshman from Illinois.

Surprisingly, she doesn't miss her flowing tresses, which she donated to Locks of Love to be made into wigs for children with medical hair loss. Assistant lighting director Colleen Sharp also trimmed her hair for the nonprofit organization, while Tyler Graham, who plays Tom Joad, cut his shoulder-length locks for the show.

Kraudel said she appreciates Ruthie's feistiness and that playing someone younger enables her to tap into her inner child.

Laura Peterson, who plays Ruthie's mother, Ma Joad, fell while walking down concrete steps during auditions and injured her leg so severely that 10 screws and two plates were surgically implanted. Since Peterson is on crutches, the fall has been incorporated into the play.

"What's kept me going is the faith that the director and cast have placed in me," said Peterson, who turned 21 Thursday. "At times, it's been so difficult physically, but this is what I love to do."

The junior from Vermont said she looks up to Ma Joad because of her incredible strength and drive and found a little bit of the character in herself as she coped with her injury. She also took inspiration from her mother, who acts and speaks much like Ma Joad.

Director Deborah Jordan said the play is an "amazing story" that gives the students a chance to recreate vivid characters. It focuses on the journey of Tom Joad as his sharecropper family is driven from their home by drought and economic hardship during the Great Depression. …

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