By Tina Howard
The UCSB smash hit production of Jeff Mills’ “Piezoelectric Love”, which opened last weekend, almost seemed a showcase for young talent Benny Howard, whose obvious importance to the production forced an audience member to exclaim that he was “the biggest tool ever,” while his companion compared his skills to the late Dick Tracy, saying he was “such a dick.” This compliment even surpasses that of his sixth grade private drama coach, who said his acting style resembled that of Hollywood leading man Keanu Reeves. Even his fellow cast-mates were impressed: costar Gina Gonzales said, “Benny [only] messed up like 20 times and forgot [only] half of his two lines.”
Benny’s past experience includes Hughes High’s production of “Annie” and Hopkins Middle’s of “The Music Man,” which received rave reviews from those in attendance. “Piezoelectric” allowed for Howard to become familiar with a more contemporary style and practice movement on stage, something I’ve been telling him since he was an infant that he was born to do. It was rather reminiscent of my time on the stage, back when I was a member and co-founder of the Southeast Cerritos Repertoire Theatre, where I played the titular lead in classic plays such as “Othello” and “Faust”. However, back in my day we didn’t feel the need to include such racy seduction scenes or over exaggerated blocking. Benny, who made it quite obvious he had been brought up with the right ideas about theatre, showed unparalleled skill in the portrayal of Servant #2. He, as we did at the SCRT, had interests in the finer subtleties of character development through intonation and mental immersion. Alas, this is not the state of theatre today, but as Shakespeare says: “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,” and so I judge by the effort put forth by the rest of the cast and crew, which was notable.
When asked how he would celebrate his success Benny humbly responded, “My character didn’t even have a name, Mom, it’s not a big deal.” Overall, the production, Howard’s first college play, was a triumph and I’m extremely proud of my little Bennykins.