SF State stars rise with the West Coast premiere of rock musical Yeast Nation

It’s a tale of two SF State actors; an alumna and student rejoining their craft in their roles as mother and son as they traverse through the beginning of life in the production of “Yeast Nation (the triumph of life).”

Juliana Lustenader, who graduated from the University in May 2013, and David Glazer, currently a theatre major at SF State, come together once again since last performing in the University’s production of “A Chorus Line” last fall.

Lustenader now plays a mother organism as Jan the Famished and Glazer plays her organism son as Jan the Youngest in Ray of Light Theatre’s West Coast premiere of the production.

“Our characters are kind of a comic relief,” Lustenader said. “I always feel comfortable working with him (Glazer) because I know he’s going to add something funny each time we do a scene.”

The play is the latest work from Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, the Tony-winning creators of the 2001 hit musical Urinetown. Hollmann and Kotis worked with the theatre to produce the West Coast premiere of “Yeast Nation,” a satirical rock musical that tells the oldest story of the beginning of life, as interpreted by the creators.

Ray of Light Theatre Artistic Director and “Yeast Nation” Director Jason Hoover said the production is still fairly new to the theatre world.

“This is the third version of this production that’s been done, so the show has seen some pretty significant changes along the way,” Hoover said, adding, “It’s the same show that it was in the beginning but it’s also different. It’s grown.”

While Glazer only recently transferred to SF State and is still learning about theatre in his classes, Lustenader said she greatly benefitted from her time at the University and credits her knowledge of the field to what she learned from professors in the department.

“I take everything I learned in all those classes and apply it to all my auditions,” Lustenader said. “There’s nothing that I learned at SF State that was superfluous.”

Glazer described his character as a naive, happy-go-lucky newborn, who acts like a kid, and Lustenader described hers as a mother whose overeating causes a major issue in the story.

“When the yeasts overeat that’s how they procreate, they divide from eating,” she said. “So you don’t want any more yeasts because they’re running out of food, and Famished keeps eating and becomes pregnant, so that is my character’s role in the story. She’s the problem.”

Though “Yeast Nation” is a musical, the actors said their specific roles don’t involve as much singing or dancing as other parts, but Glazer was able to disclose one interesting piece about costuming, another aspect of the production.

“I know there will be a cool LED-type light in the middle, which is called our ‘jellies,’ so it’s part of our costumes,” he said. “It’s basically a light, so it’ll light up different colors. I haven’t seen it yet. I know it’s gonna be really cool and a really cool aspect of the show.”

Glazer and Lustenader said working with Hoover has been a pleasant experience because of his clear direction and vision for “Yeast Nation.” Glazer added that the cast’s talent and energy can’t be missed as well, and will provide a good experience for viewers.

“It’s just a fun group of people to be around and to be with,” he said. “They’re all super funny and great singers so I think just the two combined will make a great show.”

“Yeast Nation (the triumph of life)” premieres at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, and runs through Nov. 1 at San Francisco’s The Victoria Theatre, located at 2961 16th St. (at Mission Street.) Tickets are $15-$36 and can be purchased online at Ray of Light Theatre’s website.

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