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Preview: Man of Mode

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

Belmont students brought romance, drama, comedy and 16th century style to the Troutt Theater this weekend — with another weekend of performances to follow.

Man of Mode is a restoration comedy about the complexities of romance. The main character, Dormant, is played by freshman Ben Tonks.

“The show is about a man about town who attempts to break off his affairs and find love along the way,” said Tonks. “The story becomes focused around love and how the structures of the time don’t dictate that.”

The show also has themes of feminism and societal standards. Junior Gillian Britt said about Dormant’s love interest: “Harriet is rich and beautiful but what he loves about her is that she’s very intelligent and the 1660s version of a feminist. The whole play is about him disentangling from everyone else to pursue Harriet.”

The cast worked to learn many new skills to accommodate the style of the show. These included accents, working with intricate and heavy costumes, formal dancing and an over-the-top acting style.

“The style of acting was really hard to get because it’s so over the top and ridiculous, but has to still be rooted in truth,” Britt said.

Sean Martin’s role as director was crucial in defining the production’s direction, Britt said.

“He’s been very helpful for this style of comedy because he has a lot of experience in it.”

Tonks echoed this sentiment, saying: “He gives us a nice base for our characters and lets us have a nice lead way with our characters.”

Designed by senior Maggie Fitzgerald, the costumes are stunningly intricate and beautiful. Senior India Jane Grimsley, who wears one of the show’s most intricate costumes, said the work Fitzgerald did played perfectly into the play’s aesthetic.

“They look professionally done, she is brilliant and creative and so good at creating this cohesive but also mismatched, but correlates in the textures and colors that she works with.”

Grimsley said the play’s wigs, corsets and complex layers of makeup were challenging to embrace at first, but ultimately worth the effort.

“It is a lot,” said Grimsley. “But it creates such a beautiful picture and tells such a beautiful story that it’s 100 percent worth it.”

This show is a contemporary take on a classic piece that audiences are sure to love.

Grimsley said she felt the play’s relatable themes and cathartic sense of emotional honesty would appeal to a wide audience.

“We’re having so much fun telling the story that I think our audience will have a lot of fun listening to it,” she said. “While these characters are so over the top, their emotions or what they’re rooted in is very real.”

Man of Mode will be showing at the Troutt Theater February 14th to 16th and 20th to 22nd.

Article by Noelle Westel. Photos Belmont Department of Theatre & Dance.

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