Cast members rehearse for a play

Cast members rehearse for “The Prom,” which opens June 14 as part of the 2024 McLeod Summer Playhouse.  The season opens Friday, May 31, with the “Singing with the Stars” fundraiser at McLeod Theater. (Photo provided)

May 24, 2024

‘Singing with the Stars’ kicks off SIU’s McLeod Summer Playhouse 50-season celebration

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The 2024 edition of the iconic McLeod Summer Playhouse at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is celebrating 50 seasons of bringing performances from some of the region’s finest amateur singers and dancers this summer.

“Singing with the Stars,” which serves as a fundraiser for three productions during the MSP season, returns to SIU’s McLeod Theater at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 31. This year’s performances — “The Prom,” “Dragons Love Tacos” and “Hello, Dolly!” — will be staged at the McLeod Theater or Christian H. Moe Laboratory Theater on campus. The productions feature the combined talents of students and professional actors.

Media availability

H.D. Motyl, associate professor and director, School of Theater and Dance, and Joan Sherwood, president of Friends of McLeod Summer Playhouse, are available for interviews about the upcoming 2024 season of McLeod Summer Playhouse. Motyl can be reached at or 618-453-7583, and Sherwood is available at

The theatrical performance schedule is:

  • “The Prom,” 7:30 p.m. June 14-15 and June 21-22, and 2 p.m. June 16 and June 23, McLeod Theater. The musical follows four Broadway actors lamenting their days of fame, as they travel to the conservative town of Edgewater, Indiana, to help a lesbian student banned from bringing her girlfriend to high school prom. The show played on Broadway and was made into a movie.  
  • “Dragons Love Tacos,” 10 a.m. June 12, 15, 22, 26, 29 and July 10, 13, 17 and 20, Christian H. Moe Laboratory Theater. Based on a popular children’s book, the performances will give young audiences a closeup experience to actors and dragons. Two of the performances, July 10 and July 17, are already sold out.
  • “Hello, Dolly!” 7:30 p.m. July 12-13 and July 19-20 and 2 p.m. July 14 and July 21, McLeod Theater. The time-honored, hit Broadway musical about the romantic and comic exploits of matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi as she pursues the unmarried half-a-millionaire Horace Vandergelder was presented in MSP’s first season.

Joan Sherwood, president of Friends of McLeod Summer Playhouse, noted the excitement building in celebrating this special season.

“We thought this was the perfect way to celebrate 50 seasons of MSP in Southern Illinois,” Sherwood said. “We plan to have a hat parade during the intermission of each show, so everyone should be visiting their favorite hat shop to prepare for the fun!”

For more information about the performances, visit the MSP website. Beer and wine from the university’s Fermentation Science Institute will be served at cash only bars in the lobby before performances and during intermissions, except for “Dragons Love Tacos,” when no alcohol will be served.

“This is going to be an exciting season, and already we can feel it with the young and exuberant cast of ‘The Prom’ in rehearsal,” said H.D. Motyl, associate professor and director of SIU’s School of Theater and Dance.  “The mix of seasoned professionals and emerging talent from around the country is what MSP has always been about, and we worked hard to get back to that model this year.”

The ‘stars’ will shine May 31

Festivities for the May 31 “Singing with the Stars” begin at 6 p.m. in the lobby area outside of McLeod Theater, located in the Communications Building on campus. Tickets are $50 apiece and include hors d’oeuvres and desserts and an open beer and wine bar.

A varied list of entertainers will be vying for MSP Entertainer of the Year, and audience members will be able to help choose the winner by purchasing $1 tickets or votes. The audience can vote as often as they like.

On display that night will be the talents of performers including Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens; Dr. Morgan Torrez, Shawnee Health Care; Matthew Wilson, an SIU Carbondale graduate student in social work; SIU Press director Amy Etcheson and company; Eva Fisher, public relations officer, city of Carbondale; Daniel Killins, a master’s student in professional media and media management at SIU Carbondale, and The Barbie Girls, comprising many young professionals from the region.

Former SIU Carbondale women’s golf coach and Saluki Hall of Fame member Diane Daugherty will serve as event host. The judges are The Hackstreet Boys — Dr. Travis Cripps of Little Egypt Pediatric Dentistry, Capt. Sean Sherwood of the Carbondale Fire Department and Daniel Sherwood, physician assistant, SIH Brain and Spine Institute.

MSP tickets available

Tickets are available for the season and single performances of “The Prom,” “Hello, Dolly!”  and “Dragons Love Tacos.” Tickets can be purchased by phone (618-453-6000), in person at McLeod Theater or Banterra Center box offices, or online. McLeod Theater box office hours will be open one hour before each performance. Banterra Center ticket office hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.