August 22, 2007

Theater season offers favorites, rare treats

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Tickets are available now for the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Department of Theater Five Show Subscription Series at McLeod Theater.

This year's season runs the gamut from familiar to rare treat, seasoned with special guest stars and topped off with a special collaboration between SIUC and the St. Louis Black Repertory Theater.

Here's the season, in short:

Biloxi Blues, a comedy by Neil Simon, follows a Brighton Beach lad at a World War II boot camp. The play debuted on Broadway in 1985. Cinema fans may remember Matthew Broderick's go as Eugene on the silver screen in 1988. Here, teaching assistant Jennifer Holcombe directs. The play runs Oct. 4-7.

Talking With is a Jane Martin play, directed for McLeod Theater by assistant professor Susan Patrick Benson. "Talking With…" was the mysterious Martin's first play. It premiered at the 1981 Humana Festival of New American Plays at the Actors' Theatre of Louisville, just as most of Martin's plays have since. This one is a witty series of monologues used to share the lives of 11 women. The play runs Oct. 25-28.

Segun Ojewuyi directs Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka. A special feature is guest Ron Himes, executive director of the St. Louis Black Repertory Theater. SIUC and the St. Louis Black Rep Theater co-produce and present the play in conjunction with an International Symposium. The play centers on Elesin, the king's horseman, whose participation in a Yoruban tribal ceremony is interrupted by British colonial powers. Soyinka alters the historical incident on which the story is based, changing the focus of the story from colonialism to personal duty. The play runs at McLeod Theater from Feb. 28 through March 2. It plays in St. Louis from March 19 through April 13. SIUC announced that Soyinka will speak at 5 p.m. on March 28 during the jointly hosted symposium, but other details about the symposium are not settled yet.

The Fastest Woman Alive, by actress-turned-writer Karen Sunde, tells the story of Jackie Cochran, the famous World War II-era aviator who set more speed and altitude records than any of her contemporaries. Special guest artist, George Ferencz of La Mama Theater in New York City, directs this play. Unlike the other productions in this series, this one plays at the Christian H. Moe Laboratory Theater. It runs April 3-6.

The Full Monty is a musical with text by Terrence McNally and music by David Yavek, based on the 1997 British film. Overtly a comedy, the play follows the adventures of six unemployed steel workers who decide to make ends meet by forming a male striptease act. Underlying themes of unemployment, self-worth and camaraderie give the play added dimension. Assistant Professor J. Thomas Kidd directs. It runs from April 23 through April 27.

The five plays above are the Five Show Subscription Series. They play at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday during their performance weekends. The exception is "The Fastest Woman Alive," which includes a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets for the season are $60 for adults, $55 for seniors and $25 for students. Tickets to individual performances are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $6 for students.

The Department of Theater also offers the special Two Programs of New Works, which can be added to the Five Show Subscription Series for $10. The performance debuts two full-length plays by SIUC graduate student playwrights. This year, Randall Colburn introduces Verse Chorus Verse, directed by Segun Ojewuyi, and Laramie Dean presents The Summer of the Wolf, directed by J. Thomas Kidd. The performances are at Christian H. Moe Theater. The plays run from Nov. 29 through Dec. 2. "Verse Chorus Verse" plays on Thursday and Saturday of that weekend at 7:30 p.m., and "The Summer of the Wolf" plays Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The playbill and ticket include both plays.

For tickets, contact the McLeod Box Office at 618/453-3001 between noon and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tickets are also available before performances at the door.

Theater Patrons are those whose contributions – beginning at $50 for individuals, $100 for businesses – contribute to the success of the SIUC Department of Theater. Donations support the department's scholarship fund. Patrons receive preferred seating in a designated area, recognition at all McLeod Theater performances, personal invitations to patron receptions and invitations to special performances and events. Contact the publicity office at 618/453-7589 for more information.