2015-16 FHSU Theatre Season tailored to audiences and actors

FHSU University Relations and Marketing

By Rachel Rayner

HAYS, Kan. — For 102 years, Fort Hays State University theatre productions have brought college artists and community audiences together, and director Tomme Williams, instructor of music and theatre, is excited to continue that tradition with the 2015-2016 season.

“It’s an important part of campus and has always played an important role in the community,” said Williams. “Along with Encore, it’s a good way to see live shows.”

The Department of Music and Theatre will offer a musical, two plays and an opera this year. Williams picks the literature carefully. In order to produce successful plays, she must accommodate the students’ abilities, consider the sizes of casts and audience tastes, and set restrictions and budgets. Stacks of scripts Williams has read and rejected sit on a table in her office, but months of searching led her to plays tailored for the department and the community.

The season begins with “Footloose” at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct. 2. A matinee performance will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4. All performances are in Felten-Start Theater in Malloy Hall. Due to Homecoming, there will not be a show on Saturday, Oct. 3.

The Tony nominated musical is based on the hit 80s movie about a boy who moves to a small town where dancing is banned. Williams said the musical is fresher, more physical and more energetic than previous shows, such as “Hello, Dolly!”

Williams was drawn to “Footloose” because it has so many roles, enabling her to cast returning members in more substantial parts than the chorus. The cast for the FHSU musical is always large, consisting of a mixture of music majors and theatre students. Many of the students have participated in multiple years.

The second production, “The Fifth of July”, with only eight roles, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 12, Nov. 13 and Nov. 14. A matinee performance will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 15 in Felten-Start.

“The Fifth of July” was written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Landford Wilson, one of the most influential American playwrights of the 20th century. Wilson explores the disillusionment in America following the Vietnam War by focusing on Ken Talley, a paraplegic Vietnam veteran who lives with his boyfriend Jed in his childhood home in rural Missouri in 1977.

The season continues with the light-hearted, high-energy play, “A Servant of Two Masters” by Carlo Goldoni at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 3, March 4 and March 5. A matinee performance will be held at 2:30 p.m. on March 6 in Felten-Start.

“A Servant of Two Masters” is based in the commedia dell’arte tradition — improvisational theatre in which actors played stock characters such as foolish old men, lovers and devious servants. The form was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries. Commedia dell’arte troupes performed in the streets and improvised the dialogue, allowing them to tailor performances to audiences and make sly jabs at current events and politics.

Williams plans to keep much of the atmosphere of commedia dell’arte. Actors will interact with audiences, wear over-the-top costumes, perform acrobatics and act like street performers.

The story centers on Truffaldino, a servant who attempts to double his wages, and meals, by serving two masters simultaneously. He does not know that one of his masters is actually a woman and the other master is her lover. Truffaldino finds it difficult to juggle, sometimes literally, his duties.

“The joy of ‘The Servant of Two Masters’ is watching the wheels of the plot spin faster and faster,” said Williams. “It was one of Mozart’s favorite plays. He wanted to turn it into an opera. It’s very much in the same vein as ‘Figaro’ or the ‘Barber of Seville.'”

The season will end with the FHSU opera at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 8, and a matinee performance at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 9. The opera has yet to be announced, but past performances have ranged from Mozart to Bernstein operas. Dr. Joseph Perniciaro, assistant professor of music and theatre, will direct the production and the FHSU orchestra will accompany, directed by Shah Sadikov, assistant professor of music and theatre.

Williams said she hopes that students come to see the shows so that they can watch their peers. Many of the cast members are experienced fourth-year students who are passionate about what they do.

“I’m proud of them,” said Williams.

The tickets are affordable at $15 for the general public and $10 for seniors and students. Season tickets cost $50 for the general public, $30 for senior citizens and $25 for FHSU students, saving ticket holders an average of $10 per show and allowing them to reserve their seats. Season tickets go on sale Sept. 1.

Patrons can also purchase all-event passes for $125, which gives admission to more than 30 Music and Theatre Department Events.

To reserve tickets, visit webapps.fhsu.edu/theatreonlinereservations.

For more information, call 785-628-4533 or email fhsu.musicandtheatre.boxoffice@gmail.com.

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