SCCC’s ‘The Thanksgiving Play’ is perfect even during springtime

SCCC’s ‘The Thanksgiving Play’ is perfect even during springtime

By Julianne Mosher

How can a modern-day Thanksgiving play not ruffle any feathers, especially in a politically correct society?

Suffolk County Community College’s latest production of The Thanksgiving Play is not what one might expect. In fact, it is pure chaos, but hysterical chaos at its best. 

Directed by Steven Lantz-Gefroh and written by Larissa FastHorse, the show consists of just four actors — Scott Dowd (Jaxton), Jerry Ewald (Caden), Michaela Fitzsimmons (Alicia or A-lee-see-ya), and Taylor D’Agostino (Logan). Set in an adorably relatable elementary school classroom, the four come in to start working on a culturally appropriate and politically correct play about the first Thanksgiving meal for kids. 

One slight problem — all the actors are white, and very woke, and they feel that they cannot ethically perform a historically correct production as they grew up with white privilege. They hire a “real” actress from L.A., Alicia, who they believe is Native American… only to find out in show business looks can be deceiving. 

FastHorse, who is the first female Native American playwright to have a show produced on Broadway, writes this clever satirical comedy with poise by serving up the hypocrisies of woke America, especially with topics like Thanksgiving, Native Americans and, dare I say his name? Christopher Columbus. 

Originally making its Broadway debut in 2023, it comes to the smaller stage at SCCC’s Ammerman Campus in Selden and showcases the raw, amazing talent of these four theater students. Each one has a very bright future set up for them. 

Dowd plays Jaxton, the yogi/part-time actor, who tries to always right his wrongs of being a straight, white male brings humor to the uncomfortable topic of race, especially when he’s tasked to be a part of something that needs to appeal to all people and cultures. Dowd plays the typical hippie who jumps on the bandwagon of whatever trend is going on, and he does it convincingly well.

Ewald plays Caden, a history teacher who has very serious feelings about Christopher Columbus, but also wants his side play writing performed by real humans. As in other SCCC performances, he makes the audience laugh with his slapstick shenanigans. That being said, we should highlight the choreographers for their realistic fight scene that will have you wince, but not look away.

D’Agostino plays Logan, the glue of the story, and the main protagonist who has to navigate these other personalities while trying to keep her job as a teacher in a new school district. But she’s also incredibly woke, and restricted by her overthinking and over producing. D’Agostino’s performance shines, definitely showing the leader that she is on and off the stage. 

And we can’t forget Fitzsimmons, who plays Alicia, the L.A. actress brought in by Logan as the team’s cultural compass navigating Native American culture (Logan saw headshots of her on her website wearing braids and turquois). Your standard L.A. actress, she plays the snotty, and kind of stupid, actress who relies mostly on sex appeal for parts amazingly well. Her facial expressions even when she’s in the background tell a story in itself.

Through satire and humor, this one-act show addresses the misrepresentation of Native Americans, the lack of indigenous casting and the challenges of accurately representing indigenous people in American society — all of which FastHorse experienced herself as a Native American playwright.

And you’re honestly just going to laugh from the moment the four performers step on stage. Throughout the show, we bounce back and forth between the scene in the classroom to small musical numbers relating to Thanksgiving. 

You’ll laugh at the humor, but also with how uncomfortable these conversations can be. So, even though it’s not Thanksgiving time at all, get in the spirit of cultural appropriation and white storytelling, and head over to SCCC to see this unique, hysterical and impressive show. You’re going to gobble it up.

The Theatres at Suffolk County Community College present The Thanksgiving Play in Theatre 119, Islip Arts Building Suffolk County Community College, 533 College Road, Selden on March 15, and 16 at 7:30 p.m., and March 17 at 2 p.m. General admission is $15, veterans and students 16 years of age or younger $10. SCCC students with current ID are offered one free ticket. To order, please call the box office at 631-451-4163.