NU Theatre back at work

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Theatre department prepares 2017-2018 season

Sarah Emmerling

As the new school year begins, the Niagara University Theatre is preparing itself for another entertaining season. This year’s lineup is filled with variety, offering audiences musicals, short plays, Shakespeare, and masks. With a total of seven productions in addition to a weekend festival of ten-minute student-directed plays, the department has selected a wide range of material to bring to the NU campus.

The first show of the season will take place Oct. 12-16. “Men on Boats” by Jaclyn Backhaus tells the story of a 1869 expedition of the Colorado River. Although its characters are based on real people, such as explorer John Wesley Powell, the play aims to provide a different perspective by having women play men. It will be directed by Trevor Copp, a physical theatre professor at NU and the director of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” in the Castellani Art Museum last February.

“Julius Caesar,” one of Shakespeare’s popular tragedies, will be the next show to come to NU. Reflecting the themes of political corruption, fate, and betrayal, this show is a classic sure to keep audience members on the edge of their seats. Steve Braddock, the Artistic Director of NU Theatre, will direct this production. It will run Nov. 2-12.

The fall semester musical will be “She Loves Me,” a 1963 Broadway hit. Recently revived on Broadway in 2016, this uplifting show revolves around the romance between two Budapest shop workers who are completely unaware that they are each other’s pen pals. It features songs such as “Days Gone By,” “Will He Like Me?,” and “A Trip to the Library.” The show will run for two weekends at the end of the semester, taking the stage from Nov. 30 to Dec. 10.

Kicking off the Spring 2018 semester will be the annual Short Play Festival, featuring the directing work of the junior theatre class. Juniors are given the opportunity to each direct a ten-minute play of their choosing each year, resulting in a fun weekend of various dramas and comedies. The festival also showcases the talents of many different Niagara students, as it is a great way for students in other majors to get involved with the department.

Another addition to the 2017-2018 NU Theatre season is “Potato People in School Daze,” a unique family-friendly show originating from a company called Theatre Beyond Words. Robin Patterson, a physical theatre professor at NU, will direct the production. The show makes use of larval masks and focuses on communication through movement rather than text, making it far more physical than the rest of the season. It will run Feb. 15-18 in the Castellani Art Museum.

Each year the NU Players, a club comprised of theatre students, puts on a show at the Leary Theatre. It is directed, designed, and performed by theatre students and can be an extremely collaborative effort. This provides students with great opportunities to become involved and get hands on experience behind the scenes and on stage. This year’s Players’ show is “Recent Tragic Events,” a play by Craig Wright about a blind date the day after the horrific 9/11 attacks. It will take place Feb. 23-25.

Running March 22-26 is “The House of Bernarda Alba” written by Federico García Lorca. This play centers around a Spanish woman living in a house with her five daughters. It focuses on repression, rebellion, and women’s roles in society. Amanda Sharpe, a professor specializing in speech and dialects, will direct the production.

As the year comes to a close, Kander and Ebb’s musical hit Chicago will be featured in NU’s Theatre Gala. Chicago is known for its long-running success on both Broadway and the West End. With songs such as “All That Jazz,” “Cell Block Tango,” and “Razzle Dazzle,” this is definitely not one to miss. Steve Braddock will direct this production, which will run April 19-29.

With all the exciting theatre coming to Niagara this school year, students are reminded that they are allowed one free ticket per show. This is a great way to support the arts as well as to see some stunning productions right on campus.

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