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Elizabethtown College tells “Rats’ Tales” to Audiences of All Ages

If you ever attended your local library’s Children’s Story Time, you’ve seen Elizabethtown College’s production of “Rats’ Tales.” The one-act play features student actors going over the top to act out stories and often narrate themselves in over-the-top ways. The show is advertised for ages nine to 99, and coming after productions of Shakespeare and “Spring Awakening,” is something relatively new for Etown’s Fine and Performing Arts Department. But that is easy to forget, as “Rats’ Tales” is one of Etown’s most upbeat and entertaining production this year.

“Rats’ Tales,” written by Carol Ann Duffy and Melly Still, uses the well-known folktale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin as a frame story. When the Pied Piper takes the town’s children away, the parents cope by telling stories about childhood…and rats. Actors play multiple roles as citizens of Hamelin and characters in various stories.

Junior Tyler Rossi plays the Pied Piper and many other characters from a prince to a mysterious stranger, removing both the rats and the children from the town of Hamelin with his enchanting music. Overall, Rossi’s performances are the best of the show; he clearly has no problem making a fool of himself and makes each of his characters endearing in the few minutes he has to play them.

Another standout is the scene-stealing senior David Callahan, who high-knees his way through a story as Rossi’s butler, leaving the audience in stitches. Senior Katherine Campbell, in her final Etown show, is also notable, at one point playing a witch who comes into the audience. Even when she doesn’t change her acting much between stories and characters (which include a witch and a queen), it is easy to see that the stage is her happy place.

Also obviously happy to be performing is junior Anna Sorrentino, who unfortunately gives one of the less engaging performances of the night. She mostly goes through the motions, letting loose once while standing still during a story about a girl in a wooden dress. Junior Dante Sarracino, in his third Etown production, could also use some work; he shouts most of his lines and he’s usually angry, even when his characters are not.

Even though “Rats’ Tales” is a play, music is still used. Sophomore Sarah Lohrfink plays the flute, hitting a few noticeable wrong notes. Senior Suzie Al-Absi plays the guitar. I don’t know much about music, but to me these instruments could have blended together better. The actors’ singing was much better, as many of the actors have been in the school’s musicals. No song is ever longer than thirty seconds, starting with a hymn conveniently led by junior music major Francesca Artus in her first Etown production. Sorrentino sings the same rat-catching song Rossi sang in the play’s opening during a story in which she catches rats herself, uniting the stories and their frame.

The show features an intricate use of shadow work. Artus’s shadow is hilarious as a horse that’s obviously a human behind a screen, but the all-ages audience buys it. The rat cutouts are obviously on sticks, which is fine, but sometimes one could see the shadows of the hands controlling those rats, which is not fine. Still, the shadows were a fun and unique addition to the production, and techniques like one shadow growing while another shrinks perplexed the audience.

Most of the sound effects were generated by the actors themselves, including rats scurrying on the floor (actors crouching and tapping the ground). The actors also created some of the props using their bodies; Campbell mimes a pair of scissors by bending and swinging her arms together while saying “SNAP!”.

The sets required audiences to use their imaginations, as the stage was usually nearly bare, contributing to the story-time vibe. The same half-dozen benches, ladders and pieces of fabric were used over and over to make kitchens, staircases, rivers and even a fire.

Campbell and junior Tasha Lewis oversaw costumes. With actors playing so many characters in such a short time, the costumes had to be and were versatile. Senior Amber Mangabat begins the play as a cook and plays another one later, but this is a very different cook than the first one; her apron is tied to cover just her waist. Under Campbell’s witch cloak is the same dress she’s worn the whole show. Sorrentino wears the most story-specific piece; instead of wearing the four separate dresses her character does, her skirt is divided into four sections and she spins it when she needs a different dress.

Despite its simple theatrical elements, “Rats’ Tales” is an imaginative production. Director Terri Mastrobuono, adjunct professor of theatre, has created a production absorbing and genuinely entertaining enough that the audience can simply imagine any flubs away. In conclusion, no story is perfect, and “Rats’ Tales” is no exception, but the actors (and therefore the audience) get so into it that most subpar elements vanish as easily as those pesky rats.

Humans of Elizabethtown College

Kenneth Berkenstock




The Life of Olivia Mcintosh

From the soft unfamiliar face, the words laid the foundation describing this young woman’s life “My name is Olivia McIntosh and I am 19 years old.” This student at Elizabethantown has prevailed a lot in her short life, moving from persons to person impacting each one. Originally from Harlem, New York, Olivia’s life growing up was heavily influenced by the city scene that surrounded her. With her mother’s decision to move into the suburbs of northern New York, her life blossomed into many different, and new opportunities. by moving to the suburbs, olivia not only had more space to clear her thought but also found a love in running. by running everyday she was able to clear her thoughts and focus on her school work. With the beautiful countryside that surrounded her, and the wild animals all around she slowly became more intriguing and thoughtful over time. When discussing how she managed to decide what was best for the next chapter of her life, she stated “ I knew that my love of science would draw me to a school that could support my needs for taking me to the next level.” Her deep understanding of what needs to be done, took her to the next level at a young age easily sets her apart from her classmates. Not only does her wisdom of life allow her to approach it in such an ambitious way, she also has a very deep understanding of her own live and self worth. “ I am a person who walks the line between Introverted and Extroverted, in other words, Ambivalent. This balanced personality helps me be the great person who I believe I am.” The college life has only helped further shape her beliefs of life and what she should accomplish, it has helped her place value in the many friends that surround her. Talking to one of Olivia’s close friends, Kayla Patone stated, “Olivia’s true friendship from the start made me realize how somebody should truly treat you.” In less than a year Olivia has positively influenced those that have realized just how much of a  true friend and person she is. Though she may come across as a closed of isolated person, she does like to enjoy herself, “ I love hanging around people, enjoying large or small groups of company, I love outdoor activities and I love having something to do in general all the time.” although  Olivia loves her friends she does appreciate being alone with her own thoughts periodically, she feels that for one to truly understand themselves, personal reflection is the best approach. When asked to describe herself , she felt that “attentive, empathetic, compassionate, rough, strong-willed, stubborn, well-rounded, and open” all best summarize her personality and best quality. When asked why, her response was quite thoughtful she resonded with “These personal traits turn me into a person who is an Optimist, a Realist and also a Pessimist. They also turn me into a Liberal, someone who agrees with Democrats but also agrees with Republicans. The traits all represent that i am a  ambiguous person .” With asking Olivia how she feels about her life and whether or not she thinks that much has been accomplished, she had a very simple response. “I am an achiever and I’m a person who knows when to stop and when to go. I cannot tell you where I will go from here, but with the positivity I have brought along with me, I can tell you I have always put the best foot forward for the betterment of not just myself, but those that surround me.”

An Athlete and a Scholar


Matthew Strubinger is a student athlete at Elizabethtown College. He is part of the Track and Field team where he runs Hurdles and throws the Javelin. Matt has to balance his time between track and field and his studies. Matt is a Political Science Major with a minor in Communications. In order to get an idea for how Matt is able to keep his grades up as well as be part of a sports team, I interviewed him and asked him some questions.


Matt Strubinger was born on March 14, 1998 in Lehighton Pa. His parents’ names are Gerald and Carolyn and he has an older sister Katrina, who goes to college at Rider University. Matt grew an interest in sports as a young kid. He played football in high school and also ran indoor and outdoor track.  He was also a successful student and he strived to get the best grades he possibly could in high school. Matt had a job in high school as he worked for his local bridge crew.


    When asked how he is able to keep a high GPA as well as devote time to track and field, he answered, “You gotta work hard and play hard. You have to set goals for yourself and always put the work first. Sometimes I  study during weekends as well as on bus rides home from meets.”

In order to get a feel for what Matt’s favorite part about going to Elizabethtown College is, I went ahead and asked him. He answered “I really enjoy being a part of the team because I have met so many friends. My friends that I have made are truly my favorite part of being at Elizabethtown College. I love hanging out with them and playing kan jam with them.”

Teammates opinion

A fellow team member of Matt’s, Curtis Reynolds, was asked about Matt.  I asked Curtis how much of a good sport he thought Matt was and how he thought of him as a fellow athlete. “Matt is always very respectful, especially towards his competition. He always leaves everything out there on the track. He is also very respectful to the coaches and never talks back to them. I honestly think the guy is captain material for next year,” says Curtis.


I wanted to get a feel for what it is like for Matt when he is overwhelmed from school and track. I wanted to see whether or not Matt had trouble in school or if he had a tutor. “I have a tutor in Stats because it is my weakest subject. The tutor helps me get through class and  make sure that I have a good enough grade in the class.” Matt intends on keeping his grades up throughout his college career as best as he can to solidify a decent job in his field of study.


Matt is overall a hardworking individual who loves Elizabethtown College and competing in Track.  Matt is well respected by many people at Etown college. He loves his field of study and intends on keeping it for all four years of college.








Some kids worry about going off to college.  They are afraid they might not make friends or they may miss sleeping in their own bed everyday.  It is a huge adjustment all college students have to make. James Vernon not only made this transition at by come to Elizabethtown College.  Her has been making this transition all of his life


Around the World


James was born in Meyrin, Switzerland.  His father worked for the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).  With this kind of work, James’s family had to travel all around the world.  James spent the majority of his life in Switzerland, but at the age of five he had to move away to France.  He would find himself moving back to France and moving away again at the age of 17.


James never got the chance to have a normal childhood.  He moved away from all his friends and all the relations he had made as a kid.  Soon enough he would have to make that transition 4 more time. James also found himself in country’s such as Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and the United States.  Every time he would settle down he would have to get right back up again.  Up until three years ago, he had only lived abroad.


True Values


Some kids would end up finding themselves into trouble with the same situations that James went through.  James said these issues he had to deal with made him a stronger person and made him really recognize the world around him.  James said that, “Growing up in many different countries has given me an appreciation and a deeper understanding for many different cultures.”  


My town growing up did not have a high school.  After spending nine years of my life in one school, I had to now start high school in a new school with kids I didn’t know.  It was a very terrifying experience. I was afraid of not fitting and being looked at as a uncool. James went through this type of situation three different times.  


Having to go to so many different schools was the worst thing about moving around James says.  He says that, “This was a nuisance and something that I hated about moving around.” He was forced to repeat a year of school because of a certain move.  Although these changes were difficult, he would not have changed a thing.


James reflected on his life while sitting on stage after graduating high school from Sanford School in Delaware.  He said that, “I realized that I would not have changed it because while I did go to three different schools. I have learned to open up more to new people and to be more outgoing.”


Life at Elizabethtown

Even with all these transitions, James says his move to Etown has been the easiest.  His father is an alumni of Etown and choosing to attend here was easy. The school is not far from his house so he is never too far from home.  When asked about living on his own, he said that, “Living here on my own at first was a pretty different but it has gotten easier.” He says he has lived on his own before but this is the longest he has gone without living with his parents.


After all of these transitions, James has finally found himself a home at Etown.  James is looking forward to the end of the semester and to wherever his travels will take him next.

Humans of Etown: Nicole Blyth

“Mainly I just want to travel and explore the world while getting paid” first year student Nicole Blyth said when asked what her goal was at the end of the next three years. For the International Business student from Mars, no not the planet, but the town right outside Pittsburgh, coming to Elizabethtown College was almost a no brainer. The International Business program at Elizabethtown cannot be compared to other schools of the same size, so despite having to travel about four hours every time to go home, the program made the train ride well worth it.

Home in Mars includes a mom and dad, Patty and John, as well as brother Steven who is 22. He may be her only biological sibling, but as for “adoptive” ones, Nicole has another brother Daniel. Daniel is a sixteen year old foreign exchange student from China. After Nicole headed to college, her parents added him to their family for the school year and he has quickly made his way into everyone’s hearts. If you ask her to talk about her family and favorite people, Daniel is bound to come up.

Most days, Nicole can be found in the library after class, or working in the Center for Community and Civic Engagement, but her favorite place on campus is her bed; “Ummm I don’t know where I like the most, my bed i guess” she said with so much laughter that we both ended up tearing up. When she cannot be found studying hard or taking a nap, she can be found at Bible Study on Wednesdays with Campus Crusaders for Christ (Cru) or at large group with the organization on Thursdays. Besides being involved with Cru, Nicole is heavily involved with helping the local environment with the schools sustainability project. The project is composed of mostly business students who are looking for a way to make the college as a whole more sustainable. This includes information flyers and tables that give information to students about how they can easily recycle right on campus. Each of the organizations she is involved with shows her desire to help the community both locally and globally.

On nearly every Elizabethtown tour, students hear about the close and homey vibe of the school and Nicole would have to agree; “I think my favorite part of the school as a whole, besides the business program, would have to be how close I’ve gotten with professors” she said. Nicole described the school as truly being her second home because she can not just head home on weekends like some students. Not only has she created close bonds with her professors but has also formed bond with many Cru ladies and recalled her favorite memory so far as the woman’s weekend trip that took place a few weekends ago, in Ocean City, New Jersey. Nicole has seemed to settled in to her first year with grace, and has a bright future that will likely consist of traveling the world and getting paid, as well as making a difference wherever she lands.

Nicole near the Community and Civic Engagement Office