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Stetson Theatre Arts Battles Sexism with Humor in ‘Mrs. California’ Feb. 20-23

Come watch four talented and lovely finalists vie for the coveted title of “Mrs. California,” presented by Stetson University’s Second Stage Theatre. Pictured from left to right: Natylye Gomez, Kiara Santiago, Liza Tananbaum and Reed Barkowitz. Photos by Stetson University/And You Films

Stetson University Theatre Arts presents Doris Baizley’s comedy “Mrs. California,” a play that satirizes the pressures and expectations placed on housewives during the 1950s. Directed by theatre arts senior Jaycie Cohen, the play runs Feb. 20-23 at Stetson’s Second Stage Theatre in the Museum of Art – DeLand.

Post-World War II housewives are in the spotlight during a Mrs. California 1955 pageant, featuring four finalists who are representing Los Angeles, Modesto, San Bernardino and San Francisco, and competing for the coveted crown and best “homemaker” title.

Dot, a Navy veteran and contestant who is representing Los Angeles, is sponsored by the local Dudley gas station. Dot is having a hard time adjusting to civilian life as she tries to navigate — with the help of her friend Babs — the highs and lows of a competition that honors women who are the perfect “wife” and “mother.”

In their quest to win the crown, four contestants battle it out in “Mrs. California,”presented by Stetson University’s Second Stage Theatre. Pictured from left to right: Natylye Gomez, Kiara Santiago, Liza Tananbaum and Reed Barkowitz

“Mrs. California” has been a rewarding opportunity for Cohen.

“Directing this production has been an amazing experience,” said Cohen. “This play demands a lot technically, and the production team has risen to meet the challenges. The actors also do an incredible job of connecting with their characters. The play is comedic in nature, but provides a message that I feel will really resonate with audiences when they see the production.”

Contestants spy on their competition while Dot shows off her ironing skills in “Mrs. California,” presented by Stetson University’s Second Stage Theatre. Pictured: Liza Tananbaum (left), Reed Barkowitz (bottom), Kiara Santiago (middle) and Natylye Gomez (top)

Experience Dot’s joy first hand as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery in the heartwarming tale, “Mrs. California.”

Cast: Liza Tananbaum (Dot/Mrs. Los Angeles); Hope Brown (Babs); Drake Cunningham (Dudley); Joshua Camden (Stage Manager); Natylye Gomez (Mrs. San Francisco); Reed Barkowitz (Mrs. Modesto); Kiara Santiago (Mrs. San Bernardino); and Javell Francis, Tina Ferrara, Joseph Dallas and Catharine Remey as judges and recorded voices.

IF YOU GO

Where: Second Stage Theatre at the Museum of Art – DeLand, 600 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand, 32720 (adjacent to the DeLand campus)

When: Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 20, 21 and 22 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m.

Admission: $12 adults, $10 seniors and non-Stetson students (including area schools and colleges), Stetson faculty, staff and students receive free admission with a valid ID.

Parking: Free

Box office, reservations and more information: 386-822-8700

Tickets will be available at the door and reserved tickets must be picked up 30 minutes prior to the start of the performance. The box office will be open one hour prior to curtain.

-Sandra Carr