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Student actress breaks into first leading role

Jasmine Michelle Smith is stepping out of the classroom and onto the stage in her first lead role as Marisol Peréz in Beth Kattelman’s production of “Marisol” this month.

Smith was involved in theater throughout high school and her past three years at Ohio State. As a fourth-year theatre major and dance minor, Smith has had extensive experience performing in front of large audiences. However, none of them have been as big as the audiences at Ohio State, she said.

“Because this is my first lead role at [Ohio State], it will be a bigger audience and space,” she said. “I am really excited to be on stage as much as I will be, especially in a theater that I feel comfortable in.”

Jasmine Michelle Smith, lead actress in Marisol. Credit: Courtesy of Becky Fontaine

“Marisol” is one of the few main-stage performances that the Ohio State Department of Theatre presents seasonally. It will be held in the Thurber Theatre inside the Drake Performance and Event Center, which, with a capacity of 600, is the largest theater on campus.

The award-winning play, which debuted in 1992, tells the story of a young Puerto Rican woman who lives in the Bronx. Marisol has a guardian angel visit her one night to deliver the news that the angels are upset with what has been happening in heaven, and that there will be a war on earth in the near future. From that point forward, there is frequent violence, and chaos ensues throughout the plot.

Kattelman, an associate professor and curator for the Department of Theatre, said there were challenges in finding a cast to work with the violent plot of this performance, and added she wanted to make sure the cast read the play and knew the subject matter ahead of time.

“They needed to be mature enough to handle it, with a great stage presence,” she said.

The cast and crew will have worked on this performance six days a week, five hours a day, for six weeks straight before the play’s premiere, Smith said.

Smith said her role has required her to memorize more lines than she has ever had to memorize for a show in the past, as well as having one of the fastest turnaround times before the rehearsals were “off-book,” or rehearsed without a script.

“Marisol” opens Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. and will run through Nov. 5. Tickets are $15 for students and $20 for the public plus fees via Ticketmaster.

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