Monsters, Magic & Marshall 


Taylor Isaac

Nikki Riniti center stage as Tilly Evans

Taylor Isaac, Student Reporter

Slaying dragons—as well as box office sales—the Marshall theater department’s first play of the season dared audiences to find the hero inside themselves. 

Orchestrated in under four weeks, “She Kills Monsters” is the story of ordinary girl Agnes Evans who embarks on an extraordinary adventure after discovering her deceased sister, Tilly’s, “Dungeons & Dragons” notebook. 

With Tilly’s imaginary world as the last remaining link to her legacy, Agnes and her dungeon master, Chuck, venture into the game in this larger-than-life story about loss, identity and acceptance. 

The show featured a bombastic cast brought to life by Marshall students Sierra Lutz, Nikki Riniti, Noah Ritchie, Jimi Lee, Jaden Babbit, Kendra Williams, Samantha Phalen, Candace Maynard, Michael Martin, Caelum Burgess and Emma Welker. 

Eleven choreographed combat sequences, 120 different light queues, several on-screen animations, 90’s throwback music and 10 monstrously large puppets highlighted the performance. What made the show truly come to life was the hard work of those behind-the-scenes, according to junior actress Nikki Riniti, who played Tilly Evans.

“Our amazing tech crew deserves praise for breathing the magic into this show,” Riniti said. “Once we had the set, the lights and the costumes, it completed the picture and made the show feel real.”

Audiences did not need to be well versed in the world of “Dungeons & Dragons,” according to actress Sierra Lutz, who portrayed Agnes. She said that the viewers, much like the actors themselves, would be able to resonate with the show’s timeless messages.

“Theater department kids are famously known for being open about their identities,” Lutz said. “We are a bunch of nerds; a lot of us are LGBTQ+; we come from such diverse backgrounds and we are proud of it. It was delightful getting to share this show with the people that could really appreciate it.”

“She Kills Monsters” also marked the first faculty performance for Director Leah Turley, assistant professor of theater performance. Lutz, as well as several other cast and crew members, said she could not contain her gratitude for Turley. 

“Our director, Leah Turley, is truly one of the best directors I have ever worked with,” Lutz said. “She had such a clear vision and understanding of the show, and she was always so supportive of us as artists. The entire experience was so freeing.”

Running from Oct. 5 to Oct. 8, the show’s reception was overwhelmingly positive, according to cast and crew members. Senior cast member Kendra Williams, who played the characters Lilith and Lily, said that she could not have dreamed of a better turnout for one of her final shows at Marshall. 

“As actors, the love from the audience makes us so fulfilled because it shows that this type of play is something we can perform effectively,” Williams said. “This show was remarkably different from anything I have done at Marshall before—from the fight choreography to the puppets to the fantasy aspect of it all. I have loved every single second of it.”