If this is a love song, it’s a solo

Marc Halsey plays “Bobby Long’ ” and everyone else ” in this weekend’s show

Tatum Fjerstad

Marc Halsey isn’t a math major, but he knows how to multiply his singular dramatic energy into almost a dozen characters.

Halsey, a senior Bachelor of Fine Arts acting student, wrote and stars in a one-man play; “The Staggering Box of Bobby Long” is housed not in a traditional theater, but the movie theater in Coffman Union ” a first for any production from the theatre department.

The first 100 people at each of the past two shows got free Jimmy John’s sandwiches ” another first.

So why so many firsts?

“If it explodes, I’m the only one who gets hurt,” Halsey said.

Halsey started writing “Bobby Long” during winter break and “still isn’t finished.”

The play tells the story of Bobby Long, a “vulgar, snide comedian who isn’t happy with anything or anyone.” God, with mannerisms strikingly similar to those of President George W. Bush, asks Bobby Long to help him find his book “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Being God But Were Afraid to Ask.” The book had been stolen by the evil Edward Nemesis.

Bobby has 24 hours and six characters commonly found in 17th-century commedia dell’arte (a slapstick form of Renaissance comedy) to help him find the book. Each of these characters, of course, is played by Halsey.

Much of the small production staff are big names in Twin Cities theater.

Randy Reyes, an actor and theater in education director at the Guthrie Theater (coach for the University’s October show “Madwoman of Challiot”), directs the show.

Santino Fontana, the University graduate playing the Guthrie’s Hamlet this spring, created the music.

Commedia dell’arte is a big part of the production, and Robert Rosen, one of the founding artistic directors at Theatre de la Jeune Lune, helped by coaching Halsey. Each comic character requires a different emotion.

“It’s great getting to work with people I want to work with,” Halsey said. “It’s like an all-star team.”

This production is a product of the monthlong “free play” period when seniors in the Bachelor of Fine Arts acting program are given free time with which to create their own works ” no holds barred.

To get the venue and afford the materials, Halsey needed to step outside the single number and ask for help.

Crisis Point and Showcase, two groups aimed at helping theater students get their work seen outside the school atmosphere, helped Halsey receive four grants from the University.

Even with money, expertise and help from some friends, one challenge remains.

In “Bobby Long” Halsey runs through nearly every emotion possible to create tension.

“Conflict is drama,” he said. “But how do you have conflict with yourself?”