Samantha Ginn brings down the house with all the acting chops playing both Myrna and Myra in MOXIE Theatre Season Opener The Mineola Twins

Currently Playing at the Rolando Venue Until October 24

A Blog-View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Phillip Magin and Samantha Ginn in The Mineola Twins at MOXIE Theatre. Photo Courtesy
MOXIE Theatre was one of the first theatres in San Diego to take on the initiative of offering online content during the pandemic with over eight weeks of uninterrupted ZoomFests. They then scaled up to a full filmed production of The Niceties by Eleanor Burgess. What stood out the most during these trying times to produce theater was the attention to detail. Whether it was a set of instructions -with an explanation- about how to adjust your Zoom settings or why the filmed production did not stream on-demand, the care was present. On October 1st, MOXIE opened its doors again to live theatre, and that attention to detail showed up as well. Staff members greeted patrons outside of the venue to thoroughly check IDs and proof of vaccination as well as offering a QR code at the entrance for people to search for their digital COVID-19 vaccine record.

The recorded pre-show speech also refers to QR code fatigue and a kind reminder to keep your mask on and covering your nose during the performance. If not, an usher will stop by to make sure. It is definitely the best, most complete pre-show speech so far. As an audience member who is making the choice of going out and be in a closed setting with other people, this is very much appreciated.

Paula Vogel's The Mineola Twins debuted in the late 90s. A story that starts in the 50s in Mineola, Long Island, and goes all the way to the Bush administration. Twins Myrna and Myra (played by Samantha Ginn) are complete opposites. Myra is a pants-wearing rebel, all for women's rights and living in the now. There has been no movie yet that portrays the life that she wants to live, full of freedom, no marriage, and no kids. Myrna on the other hand is ultra-conservative and by the book, working in a diner just like your average 50s sitcomie white teenager. She is engaged to Jim (Emily Jerez) and her dream is to be the perfect homemaker. And that is perfect for Jim who at 22 going on 23 (in the early 50s but still) is convinced that the difference between men and women is that the first are recognized by their actions while women do not do anything because they just 'are'. 

Emily Jerez and Samantha Ginn in The Mineola Twins.
Photo Courtesy MOXIE Theatre

Reiko Huffman's simple yet very aesthetic scenic design enhances the story well. As mentioned at the beginning of this view, I pay attention to detail and sometimes weird details. For example, I fell in love with a couple of red stools they used in the design to illustrate the diner that Myrna works in. With that, I will happily segue way into Samantha Ginn's majestic performance as both twins. Whether a wink to the audience or the other cast members, from the first scene, she is funny, sassy, and very aware of her abilities, and the stage props (hence the red stools) bravo to Props Designer- Alyssa Kane. This is also a reflection of Artistic Director Jennifer Thorn. Each director has their own style and way of landing a piece onstage. Jennifer's camaradery-ish style goes for that attention to detail and eases to the actors giving them freedom -with instruction- to deliver.

The cast made a good ensemble along with the production team. This is definitely a team effort. It reminded me of a ballet piece where the dancers take care of each other onstage and during some lifts and spins are aware trying their best so no one falls. With Mineola Twins' it would seem that most of the scenic weight is on Ginn playing both roles but, it is the other cast members' (Emily Jerez, Phillip Magin, and Desireé Clarke), great work dressed by Christopher Loren Renda's amazing Lighting Design and accented by Sound Designer-Matt Lescault-Wood, that provides a space for Samantha to go off high. And oh all those wardrobe and wig changes. Oh...

Amazing job by Costume and Wig designers Danita Lee and Missy Bradstreet. Beautifully orchestrated by Production Stage Manager- Danielle Dudley and Production Manager- Nicole Ries. It takes a village to do this! and that is why it needs to be supported.

The story goes through 3 decades finishing around the 80s. Lives have been lived, decisions have been made along with betrayals, people have been taken to shock therapy, sexual preferences have expanded and children have been born. 

Phillip Magin in a double role as well, playing both sons of the twins Kenny and Ben in different decades, is also very funny and sweet at the same time. Desireé Clarke in various roles and Myra's wife Sara, gives the audience an array of interpretative colors. She is definitely an up-and-coming actress and I cannot wait to see her in more roles. Emily Jerez mainly as Phil is playful and a joy to watch. I think that throughout the run she will relax a bit more and take more risks because she is definitely talented.

The dialogue referring to women and used during the 50s era in the story is still SO PRESENT today it is shocking and of course, appalling. I always recognize the power that theatre has to go beyond entertainment at times and make people think. This is one of those pieces where within all the laughter and enjoyment, you have to stop and think "are we as a society going backwards or just do not want to move forward?".

From Left: Phillip Magin, Emily Jerez, Samantha Ginn, and Desireé Clarke in The Mineola Twins. Photo Courtesy MOXIE Theatre

The Mineola Twins is currently playing until October 24. Ticket prices range between $27 and $44 dollars. There are rush tickets for $15 dollars an hour before each performance and 10 TICKETS set aside for free for each performance as well upon request.

There is no excuse to go and see good theatre people!

Props to MOXIE for this great initiative.

For performance times and dates please visit their website 

Shameless plug: listen to me talk to awesome artists and the arts in our wonderful podcast From Another Zero. The latest episode is "Disability Thinking Twice with Valerie Salgado".

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