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MU Theatre Department schedules productions

Sep. 01, 2012 @ 10:46 PM

HUNTINGTON -- The new school year has barely started and the actors, crew and stagehands at Marshall University's Department of Theater are already hard at work on a new series of plays.

There will be two productions each semester, one at the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse and one the Francis-Booth Experimental Theater.

The first play of the school year will be "The Crucible," which will be nightly at 8 p.m. Oct. 10-13, at the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse. Written by Arthur Miller "The Crucible" tells the story of the infamous Salem witch trials.

"Arthur Miller wrote 'The Crucible' in the 1950s as a response to the McCarthy hearings," said Jack Cirillo, theater program director at Marshall. "Many creative people were accused of being communist. Many of Miller's friends were being harassed and unjustifiably accused of things they weren't involved in. The play is deeply metaphorical, but it stands on its own merits."

From Nov. 7-10 and 15-17, The Francis-Booth Experimental theater will be hosting a production of Mary Zimmerman's adaptation of "Arabian Knights." All shows will start at 8 p.m.

"This is a wonderful adaptation of the Scheherazade stories," Cirillo said. "I remember as a kid reading 'Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves' and being mesmerized by it. Mary Zimmerman has created a very physical, very wonderful piece. I think audiences will be mesmerized by the ensemble work that happens in it."

The first play of the spring semester is "Doubt," which will play from 8 p.m. Feb. 20-23 and Feb. 28-March 2. Written by John Patrick Shanely, the play is centers around a priest facing allegations of improper conduct at Catholic school. The play was turned into a film in 2008 film starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

"John Patrick Shanley is well known in the circles of stage as well as movies," Cirillo said. "Film audiences know him as the writer of 'Moonstruck' years ago, though this is a very different story. As the title implies, there's a great deal of doubt as to whether the priest is justifiably harassed. That seems to be a running theme in our plays this year. This show will be directed by Cathy Sawyer, the artistic director of the Greenbrier Valley theater in Lewisburg, West Virginia, the only professional theater in the state."

The school year will go out with a bang as the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse will host a production of "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum," a classic comedy with a musical soundtrack by Stephen Sondheim. The play is an update on the classic comedies of the Roman playwright Plautus.

The show will run at 8 p.m. April 24-27, and 2 p.m. April 28.

"I will go on record and say 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum' is the funniest musical ever written," Cirillo said. "'Spamalot' and 'The Producers' would not have happened without 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.' I've had the honor of meeting Stephen Sonheim and Larry Gelbart in the past. We're very excited to bring this show to Marshall. I know the students are looking forward to it."

The theater department will also be hosting two special events. The Amused Dance Concert will be Oct. 19-20 and will feature a mix of classical and contemporary dance. MU senior Josh Meredith will take the stage with the "Josh M!" cabaret for an evening of music, comedy and dance on Jan. 17-18.

"We're pretty careful about our season," Cirillo said. "We spend a good deal of time looking at the kinds of material that we need to do. We have a very supportive list of subscribers who come to see our shows that look for variety in what we present. We also have a responsibility for our students to give them a variety of shows to give them challenges and teach them about the different genres of theaters out there. We also have a obligation to the theater department to present work that we can be excited out."

Main stage general admission tickets are $20 and $15 for faculty and seniors. Marshall students are admitted for free. Tickets for children ages 5-12 are $5. The box office is offering an Early Bird Special that will feature tickets to all productions including Amused Dance and the cabaret for $62. That deal is good until Sept. 30.

For more information, call the box office at 304-696-2787 or go online at www.marshall.edu/cofa/theatre/.

Upcoming productions at Marshall University

What: Marshall University Department of Theatre 2012-13 Season

Where: At Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center

When: Oct. 10-13, "The Crucible;" Oct. 19-20, Amused Dance; Nov. 7-10, 15-17, "Arabian Knights;" Jan. 17-18, Josh M! Cabaret; Feb. 20-23, Feb. 28-March 2, "Doubt;" April 24-28, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"

How much: $20 general admission, $15 for seniors and Marshall faculty/staff, $5 children ages 5-12, Marshall students are admitted free.

Information: 304-696-2787