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Next year's season announced

April 2013

As we near our last production for the year, the question on many minds is, of course, "What's next?" Read on to get the scoop about what we are looking forward to during our 2013-2014 season.

[UNTITLED] - No, that's not the name of the show. But since we can't announce it to you just yet, we'll start by saying it is the first main stage show of the season, set to appear the first weekend of November 2013. This musical of epically comedic proportions may or may not include: not-so-heroic knights, a female in distress, an old Viking boat, and a foiled quest in search of a sacred drinking apparatus.

Guest directing will be Bill Theissen, a long-time friend of the St. Ambrose Theatre Department. Since 2004, Theissen has served as the Artistic Director of the Skylight Opera Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisc. He has produced over 100 shows for acclaimed theatre and opera companies across the nation, recently including Pirates of Penzance for the Santa Fe Opera and Sweeney Todd at the Cleveland Opera. Theissen will be starting his new position in the fall of 2013 as the Director of Opera at the University of Iowa. Professor Daniel Rairdin-Hale will assistant direct with Theissen, whose commitment to non-traditional casting will only add to the ensuing hilarity in this fall's production.

101 DALMATIANS - Directed by Dr. Corinne Johnson, the children's show is set for the first weekend of December 2013.

Robert and Anita live happily with Dalmatian parents Pongo and Perdita as they raise their Dalmatian puppies. Everything is quiet until the monstrous Cruella De Vil, Anita's former classmate, plots to steal the puppies for her new fur coat! Join all the dogs of London as they daringly rescue the puppies from Cruella and her bumbling henchmen. 

With a delightfully fun score, lovable characters, and one of the most deliciously evil villains in the Disney canon, this stage adaptation is certain to charm and delight all audiences.

"It has a flexible cast and great opportunity for creative input from the cast members," Johnson said. "I'm thrilled about it."

THE LARAMIE PROJECT - This docu-drama by Moisés Kaufman will be main stage the third weekend in February 2014. It is based on the true story of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo. The play has three acts and includes interviews from townspeople, published news reports, and the company members' own reactions recorded in their journal entries.

With over 60 characters, several actors will play multiple roles throughout the show. The ensemble nature of the show is something Director Rairdin-Hale appreciates. He also sees the content as a prime opportunity for students to examine elements of their society while practicing their craft.

"It's a chance to explore a modern tragedy and [use it to] gain a better understanding of our world through actual events," Rairdin-Hale said. "It should be a learning process for the actors, as well as myself."

The last play of the main-stage season is THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST - A classic in the world of theatre and Director Dr. Corinne Johnson could not be more excited to head up this production.

"It's just flat-out my favorite play," Johnson said. "Well, this and Hedda Gabler."

The most esteemed of Oscar Wilde's works, it takes place in early 20th century London. It is a comedic take on the triviality of marriage and outrageous social behavior of the Victorian Era's upper class. And, true to the dramatic elements of a farce, it doesn't fail to entertain the audience with mistaken identities and romantic entanglements.

Without a doubt, the upcoming season will be one of excellent variety. A broad-comic musical, a children's show, a serious contemporary piece, and a classical comedy will provide theatre students with a comprehensive array of learning opportunities. And that's something the department is always looking to do for their students.

"We're excited," Johnson said. "And it seems as though there are big enough casts to include a goodly sum of our students."

The Studio Theatre may provide some opportunities as well. Senior Jacob Hanenberger will direct David Mamet's play, Oleanna, in early September, and senior Molly Conrad will serve as a director again (she directed Almost, Maine this past year) with her interpretation of David Auburn's prize-winning play, Proof.

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