“Mr. Information” tackles misinformation

Still of the Blackbox Productions play 'Mr. Information', with the opening night this past Thursday March 16th, 2023 at St. Thomas University. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

Black Box Productions presented its final show of the year last week, a student-written musical called Mr. Information.

The play was written by fourth-year English and fine arts major Noah Deas, who spent a year writing the musical for his honours thesis. His script was inspired by digital misinformation spread throughout the pandemic, and the impact it had on families.

The musical was workshopped as rehearsals went on, often changing with the flow of new ideas, said Deas, until February when the “frozen draft” was created.

“I would say ‘okay, that last draft of the script we read? Throw it out, here’s the new one,” said Deas.

Though he had written both scripts and music for class before, this is his longest project.

Mr. Information was the first time Deas presented music to a large group of people. Opening night brought in approximately 60 people, and Deas said the performance was extremely nerve-wracking.

Still of the Blackbox Productions play ‘Mr. Information’ live band, with the opening night this past Thursday March 16th, 2023 at St. Thomas University. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

“It’s weird when you’ve written something that’s going to be performed,” said Deas.

He described a feeling of having “no control” over what happened onstage. Nonetheless, he enjoyed seeing the show brought to life.

Deas hopes those who saw the show walked away with the understanding that it’s a work in progress, not a final spectacle.

“I want them to look at it and see that this could be something … this is a good start,” he said.

Deas expressed gratitude to the actors who helped him design the show. During the workshopping process, he said much of the additions to the script came from ideas that actors had.

One of those actors was first-year Rhett Ellis, who played the titular role of Mr. Information, in his Black Box Productions debut.

As an experienced actor, the musical was a first for him as well.

“Nobody else has done these characters and songs before,” said Ellis.

“It’s really interesting to be able to do that for the first time and really be in on the ground floor for the project.”

Though it was challenging to have the script change throughout rehearsals, Ellis said it helped the actors develop their characters. He said the most rewarding part was seeing the show come together. The rehearsals only moved into the Black Box Theatre a few weeks before opening night, meaning staging was often left to imagination.

Moving forward, Ellis hopes to dip his feet into more performances and shows with a variety of tones. His passion lies in plays and bringing the script to life without music or dancing.

He hopes the audience of Mr. Information saw how many possibilities the theatre offers.

“The theatre experience is one that is worthwhile,” said Ellis.