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Silent Sky: The stars aren’t silent after all

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By Tris DeRoma

Los Alamos Little Theater Director John Cullinan and producer John Gustafson’s production of Lauren Guderson’s “Silent Sky” is a play built for Los Alamos. 

Silent Sky tells the tale of famed astronomer Henrietta Leavitt (played by Katrina Koehler) and her journey to becoming a renowned astronomer at a time when women, at least at the Harvard Observatory anyway, weren’t even allowed to look through the  observatory’s telescope. 

Her journey was not an easy task for a woman in the early 20th century, a story that 

Cullinan does a great job of portraying, balancing her story against the universal importance of pursuing one’s dreams, no matter the odds. 

It’s so tempting to reveal all the inspiring moments this play and the lessons it holds for children and adults alike, but rest assured there are many, which keeps the story moving to its thrilling conclusion. 

There’s a lot going on in this play and actors Koehler, Jess Cullinan, Kathi Collins, Andi Bishofberger and Kevin Pelzel are brilliant in bringing to life the characters involved in this obscure part of scientific history to life. One really feels Henrietta’s passion and personal sacrifices she made for science come through in Koehler’s portrayal of the astronomer, so much so that it’s easy to feel the disappointment when her goals, both personal and scientific, are thwarted through no fault of her own. Bishofberger and Collins portray the difficulties and the humor in working at Harvard Observatory during that time as they forged their own careers.  Pelzel, as Leavitt’s love interest Dr. Peter Shaw, and Cullinan, as Leavitt’s sister Margaret, also do a fine job of coloring in Leavitt’s personal story. 

Cullinan’s role as early 20th century composer Margaret Leavitt, is weaved into this tale brilliantly also. Cullinan has a wonderful singing voice, which she gets to use frequently in this two-hour production. It goes perfectly with this story about stars, music and discovery. One of the greatest moments in this play happens when it’s revealed how each of the sister’s vocations come together to help Henrietta make her first scientific breakthrough. 

The only thing we will reveal is Leavitt did eventually get to peer through that telescope, the rest of her story we will leave for the audience to discover on their own.

Playgoers have one more chance to see Silent Sky, which is playing at the Los Alamos Little Theater, located at 1670 Nectar Street. 

Times are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be bought at C.B. Fox in Los Alamos. Tickets are $15 and $13. There will also be tickets available at the door.