Since our first production of Nathan Hale in 1913 under the direction of Caroline Medders with settings designed by Franklin Gilson, ESU Theatre has been a vital element of the cultural life of Emporia and the region. In the year in which we celebrate the 150th birthday of the university, we look forward to our next season of plays:
Oct. 10-13: All Shook Up! (Our 41st Homecoming Musical) by Joe DiPietro
Nov. 19-24: reasons to be pretty (comic-drama) by Neil LaBute
March 5-8: Boeing Boeing (Farce) by Camoletti, Cross and Evans
April 16-19, 23-26: Uncle Vanya (tragicomedy) by Anton Chekhov
May 2: Our Spring Dance Show by Lindy Bartruff
The 2013 season begins with Joe DiPietro’s All Shook Up! A musical comedy by the writer of Memphis and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, All Shook Up! is built around hit songs made famous by Elvis Presley. Set in 1955, a dreamer and a mysterious guitarist form an unlikely pair that inspires a small town to open its eyes to the magic of romance and the power of rock and roll. Borrowing some familiar plot devices from Shakespeare, the score highlights classics like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and the title song.
ESU has ties to the Broadway production of All Shook Up! It was stage managed on Broadway by ESU Alumna Lois Griffing who also stage managed Hairspray and (currently) Kinky Boots. This spicy musical, with music adapted by Tony-winning Stephen Oremus will have you dancing out of your seat. Jim Bartruff directs it, with choreography by Lindy Bartruff and musical direction by Penny Speedie.
Our winter production has been entered as a participating entry into the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Neil LaBute’s reasons to be pretty is a love story about the impossibility of love. The play is under the direction of senior Mike Koetkemeyer (Salina). LaBute introduces us to a couple, Greg and Steph, a flawed but likable twenty-something couple. When Greg is asked to comment on Steph’s “looks,” chaos ensues. A romantic and adult play, reasons to be pretty explores the hopelessness of romance in the 21st century. It earned its author and original cast numerous awards including a Tony Award nomination for Best Play in 2008. A sequel to the play, Reasons to Be Happy, enjoyed a celebrated off-Broadway run last spring starring Jenna Fisher (The Office).
The third production, Boeing Boeing, is a French farce adapted for the English-speaking stage. It was also a movie vehicle for Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis in 1965. Revived on Broadway in 2008 in a Tony-winning production, the farce features Bernard who is engaged to marry three different women, one French, one German, and one American. Each fianc�e is an airline hostess with frequent layovers. Bernard keeps “one up, one down and one pending” until unfavorable layovers bring them all to his apartment at the same time. Theresa Mitchell will direct.
Uncle Vanya, Chekhov’s classic tragicomedy will be the final production of the season. In Uncle Vanya, a retired professor and his beautiful young wife, Elena have return to the professor’s country estate. Uncle Vanya discovers his hopeless and unrequited feelings for the professor’s wife. Meanwhile, the professor’s daughter, Sonya, yearns for the doctor, Astrov, who only has eyes for Elena. If things don’t seem complicated enough, the professor has an announcement that could change the lives of the entire household. A timeless observation of human behavior and relationships, Uncle Vanya remains relevant to audiences of our time. Our production will be under the direction of Dr. Jim Ryan.
On May 2, we present our fourth annual spring dance show under the direction of Choreographer Lindy Bartruff. Further details will be made available at a later date.
ESU theater is launching a membership drive, too with a “BUILD the GUILD” campaign.
“Guild membership is one of the best entertainment deals in town with tickets to all summer-theater and regular-season productions plus two opening-night galas and a tax-free contribution to ESU Theatre,” said Jim Bartruff. For additional information, call Mary Sue Wade or Bartruff at 341-5256.
Learn more about the theater program at ESU at www.emporia.edu/theater.