EMPORIA STATE -- ESU Theatre announces its 56th annual summer theatre season:
June 9-12: Are We There Yet? (Musical revue)
June 23-26: Almost, Maine (Romantic comedy) by John Cariani
July 7-10: Unnecessary Farce (Comedy) by Paul Slade Smith
July 21-24: On Froggy Mountain (Tales from around the world)
The opening production "Are We There Yet?" by John Glaudini, James Hindman, Ray Roderick, and Cherl Stern is a charming musical romp through life. Subtitled “A Family Survival Guide,” Are We There Yet? premiered in Wichita in 2005 and played to sellout houses in Kansas City last summer. The show takes us on a roller coaster ride through two dozen vignettes of all the stages of life, examining marriage, family, career, and retirement. Beginning with a family trip and the inevitable whine from the backseat, the first act is hilarious as the characters deal with young family issues. The comedy matures in the second act as the ensemble deals with issues of aging, all the while showing us how life is all about the journey. Using song, dance, and sketch comedy, this entertaining family musical is under the direction of Jim Bartruff and is being choreographed by Lindy Bartruff. Guest artist Rick Rasmussen will design sets, lights and costumes. Student designer Emily Warren will design makeup and hair. Brianne Simon is the stage manager.
Next up is the comic-romance, "Almost," Maine written by John Cariani. The play takes place on a cold, clear, moonless Friday night in the middle of winter in the remote, mythical town of Almost, Maine. A series of two-character scenes exposes love and the effects it has on those who experience it. A whimsical take on the joys and perils of romance, susceptible hearts will be left tingling at these tales of love lost and found. Theresa Mitchell will direct Almost, Maine and the stage manager is senior Gabe Moyer. Rick Rasmussen is the set and costume designer. Craig Moxon is the lighting designer.
The third production is "Unnecessary Farce," a new play by Paul Slade Smith. A comedy in the tradition of "Lend Me A Tenor" and "Noises Off," this is an evening of non-stop laughter. It is early morning at two adjoining rooms in an economy motel where two young police officers are set to videotape the mayor and the town's accountant. Are they embezzling while Todd, the Highland hitman wanders about? Can the cops catch the wrongdoers? The play is laugh-so-hard-you-cry funny with one bit overlapping the next like a Marx Brothers comedy. A twisted plot with slamming doors and hilarity, Unnecessary Farce is under the direction of Jim Ryan. Cassandra Jim is the production stage manager. The set design will be created by ESU Theatre alum Josh Christoffersen. Amanda Dura is the costume designer with Josh Taylor as the lighting designer.
Closing out the season is "On Froggy Mountain" by Robb James. A show for the entire family, On Froggy Mountain tells several tales from Japan, Africa, Greece, Germany, Spain, and the Americas. A city frog and a country frog set out one day to see the world. Along the way, they encounter pirates and hedgehogs, foolish boys and ancient gods, a wily coyote and a kind fisherman. This production will be under the direction of Jim Bartruff and the stage manager is Christina Thomas. ESU Theatre alums Aaron Kennedy and Josh Christoffersen will design the sets and costumes. Craig Moxon is the lighting designer. 2010 Grad Chris Lohkamp will serve as Technical Director. The final performance on Saturday July 24th will be a 2:00 p.m. family matinee.
All performances are in the Karl C. Bruder Theatre in King Hall, with a 7:30 p.m. curtain. (As previously noted, the final performance of On Froggy Mountain will be at 2 p.m.) Individual tickets and season passes are available from the university box office at 620-341-6378.