AU Releases Theater Season Lineup
By Lydia Gehring
ASHLAND — The Ashland University Department of Theatre is pleased to announce its 2008-2009 season.
The season opens in October with Arthur Miller’s chilling classic tale of the Salem witch trials in “The Crucible.”
The Pulitzer-prize winning comedy “Crimes of the Heart” follows in November. “The Spitfire Grill,” with rich melodies reminiscent of a classic all-American musical, warms up February. “The Shape of Things,” an outrageously clever play, closes the season with a brazen modern-day retelling of Adam, Eve and the fall of man.
Professor Ric Goodwin opens the season with his direction of “The Crucible,” an enduring piece that addresses tolerance and reason lost amidst an unparalleled mass hysteria.
Determined to have her way at any cost, young Abigail turns her romantic obsession into murder as the discovery of young girls dancing and chanting in the forest unleashes the jealously, greed and retribution simmering beneath the surface in the repressive Puritan society of 1692 Salem, sparking the famous witch trials. The zealous and unrelenting pursuit of personal passions, colored as religious fervor and righteousness, possesses the village, resulting in the most absolute sacrifice of human life.
The second production of the season is the 1982 Pulitzer-Prize winning comedy “Crimes of the Heart,” directed by Teresa Durbin- Ames. “I just didn’t like his looks,” is all Babe Magrath Botrelle says when asked why she shot her crummy Senator husband in the stomach. And so it goes for the three Magrath sisters who have endured one tragedy after another in “Crimes of the Heart,” set in rural Hazelhurst, Miss.
The shooting propels the past into the present as the ladies are again forced to face the unflattering picture painted so many years ago when their father walked out and their chain-smoking mother subsequently hanged herself in the cellar … with the family cat. Their tragic background kindles a surprisingly humorous and heartfelt story about three sisters on a soul-searching journey who must find the strength to overcome the past to face the future.
Directed by Fabio Polanco and praised for its soaring, folksy score reminiscent of Americana, “The Spitfire Grill” follows an unlikely heroine to a one-horse town in need of hope, which unexpectedly arrives in the form of Percy, an ex-convict in search of better lighting and a fresh start. To most of the citizens of Gilead, Wis., she’s no heroine, only trouble.
But Hannah, the aging, feisty owner of the Spitfire Grill, employs the combative Percy, exposing her to an unwelcoming gallery of critics. Together the women restore the fading town’s landscape in a most unusual way. With a rare simplicity in an age of big and brassy musicals, “The Spitfire Grill” takes theater-goers on a soulful musical journey of redemption, renewal and reawakening when Percy lights upon the idea of raffling off the grill in an essay contest.
“The Shape of Things,” directed by Goodwin, rounds out the AU Theatre season and asks “at what cost art?” In his witty and seductive play, Neil LaBute reshapes the artless Adam’s life when he introduces him to Evelyn, a beautifully painted graduate art student. As the relationship progresses, the coolly sophisticated Evelyn coaxes Adam to change his lifestyle. Not only does Adam succeed in losing his extra pounds, his glasses and his favorite ratty jacket, but also his friends and himself, for the sake of Evelyn who tests the boundaries of friendship, love and art in her surprising quest.
Societal norms are questioned, and life as art is interpreted literally in “The Shape of Things,” a cleverly twisted interpretation of the fall of man. This production contains adult themes and is not recommended for children.
Single ticket prices are $10 for adults; $9 for senior citizens, children, AU faculty and staff, and non-AU students; $8 for groups of 10 or more; and $2 for AU students with ID. Call 419-289-5125 for tickets or more information after Sept. 8, or stop by the box office inside the lobby of Hugo Young Theatre. Box office hours are Monday- Friday, noon to 6 p.m., and one hour prior to each performance.
Discounted season passes to all four shows are available. For more information on season passes or to receive a season brochure, contact Michelle Williams, coordinator of performing arts publicity and events, at 419-289-5950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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