Niagara University Theatre's 2011-12 season offers an array of entertainment options to suit a variety of tastes. The entire season will be produced in the renovated William P. and Marie Leary Theatre in the new Elizabeth Ann Clune Center for Theatre, with the exception of the annual collaboration with the Castellani Art Museum.
"This season, you will find two Broadway hits, a classic Shakespearean comedy, an inspiring drama based upon tragic front-page news, and a family-friendly musical fantasy," said Steven Braddock, the newly appointed director of Niagara University Theatre. "In addition, our readers' theater production will examine the value of art and the cost of crossing the line, and our annual student-directed Short Play Festival will offer comedies, dramas and everything in between. Also, our theater student group, the NU Players, will test their wings by entirely producing an adult tragicomedy."
"While many area theaters focus on producing one type of theater, here at NU, our season of theater is about variety and value," he said. "Now, with our $3.1 million renovation behind us, our first-class facility can offer audience amenities like never before: a circular driveway drop-off, a computerized box office, an elevator, air-conditioning, listening devices, comfortable seats with arm and leg room, and a new audience lounge for pre-show and intermission."
The new season includes:
•From Oct. 20-24, NU Theatre presents "The Women of Lockerbie" by Deborah Brevoort. Within the rolling green hills of Lockerbie, Scotland, seven years after the crash of Pan Am Flight 103, this poetic drama spotlights the triumph of love over hate. Inspired by true events and real people, the play won the silver medal in the Onassis International Playwriting Competition and the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award. Director of the production is adjunct professor Amanda Lytle Sharpe, who recently directed "The Pirates of Penzance" for NU Theatre.
"The Women of Lockerbie" will be on stage at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 and Oct. 24, and at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 21 and 22. Also, 2 p.m. matinees will be held on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23 (with a post-show discussion with the author of the play, Brevoort).
•From Nov. 10-20, fly balls, fielding and Faust will take center stage as NU Theatre presents the Tony-winning musical "Damn Yankees," with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.
The devil is in the details when the hapless Washington Senators take on their rivals, those "damn Yankees," in the race for the pennant. Much like the national pastime, "Damn Yankees" is an American classic, which hit a home run with audiences and critics after its Broadway premiere in 1955. The production will be directed by Braddock and choreographed by Terri Filips, associate professor/choreographer.
"Damn Yankees" is on stage at 7 p.m. on Nov. 10 and 17, and at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 11, 12, 18 and 19. Also, 2 p.m. matinees will be held on Nov. 12, 13 (with post-show discussion), 19 and 20.
•From Dec. 8-18, NU Theatre, in collaboration with Ontario's Theatre Beyond Words, presents "The Boy Who Could Sing Pictures," adapted by John Lazarus from the book by Seymour Leichman. The play is a Renaissance tale about a boy's unique gift, which attracts a large peasant following. The boy's popularity draws the attention of the king, and a royal performance is commanded. What follows is a surprise for all and fills the kingdom with outrage - both pro and con.
This production is directed by adjunct professors Robin Patterson and Terry Judd, and is a multimedia theatrical event for the whole family (and it includes puppets, masks, projections and music).
The production is on stage at 7 p.m. on Dec. 8 and at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 9, 10, 16 and 17. Matinees will be held at 2 p.m. on Dec. 10, 11 (with post-show discussion), 17 and 18.
•From Jan. 20-28, 2012, NU Theatre's annual Short Play Festival makes for a fascinating dose of theater - and a great entertainment bargain. Three cycles of 10-minute plays written by various playwrights will be presented over two consecutive weekends. Comedies, dramas, and everything in between, the debut of nearly two-dozen student directors produces a smorgasbord of professionally published plays. If one production is not to your taste, you only have to wait 10 minutes before the next one begins.
The Short Play Festival is on stage at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 (Cycle A) and 2 p.m. on Jan. 21 (Cycle A); on Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. (Cycle B) and 2 p.m. on Jan. 22 (Cycle B); and at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 (Cycle C) and 2 p.m. on Jan. 28 (Cycle C).
•From Feb. 16-19, in collaboration with the Castellani Art Museum, NU Theatre will present "Art" by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton. Winner of the 1996 Olivier Award for Best Comedy and the 1998 Tony Award for Best Play, this comedy is about the value and aesthetics of art and the toll it takes on friendship when the line is crossed. This production will be performed at the Castellani Art Museum amidst a specially curated art exhibit.
"Art" will be staged at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16 and at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 and 18. A 2 p.m. matinee will be held at the museum on Feb. 19.
•From Feb. 24-26, the NU Players will present an all student-designed and directed production of "The Twilight of the Golds" by Jonathan Tolins. This 1993 Broadway play is a thought-provoking tragicomedy about family genes and the choices that link and sever their bonds.
The adult subject matter of the production is not suitable for children.
"The Twilight of the Golds" is at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 and 25. In addition, a 2 p.m. matinee will be presented on Feb. 25 (with post-show discussion) and on Feb. 26.
•From March 22 through April 1, Niagara University Theatre presents the delightful Shakespearean classic, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," directed by Doug Zschiegner, associate professor/associate director of NU Theatre. Young lovers, powerful spirits and a troupe of thespians all collide in a forest in this contemporary production of one of the most magical romantic comedy in the history of the English language.
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" takes the stage at 7 p.m. on March 22 and 29, and at 7:30 p.m. on March 23, 24, 30 and 31. 2 p.m. matinees will be presented on March 24, 25 (with post-show discussion) and 31, as well as April 1.
•From April 19-29, Niagara University Theatre presents "Little Women - The Musical," by Jason Howland, Mindi Dickstein and Allan Knee. Based on the book by Louisa May Alcott, this 2005 Broadway musical celebrates the beloved March sisters: Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy.
Alcott once wrote of her unconventional, spirited heroine of this great work, "I am Jo." Despite hardships of the Civil War era, this classic story has entertained generations worldwide since its first publication in 1868.
Directed by Braddock and choreographed by Filips, this production is fit for the entire family. The March sisters are now off the page and in the flesh and - "Christopher Columbus!" - singing.
"Little Women - The Musical" is on stage at 7 p.m. on April 19 and 26, and at 7:30 p.m. on April 20, 21, and 27. 2 p.m. matinees will be held on April 21, 22 (with post-show discussion) and 29.
•On April 28, the Friends of Niagara University Theatre will host the 27th annual Friends of Niagara University Theatre Gala, including a 4 p.m. production of "Little Women - The Musical" at the Leary Theatre, and a cocktail reception, dinner and silent and live auction at the Niagara Falls Country Club. Tickets for the gala are $150 per person. For more information about the gala, contact Peg Lacki at 716-286-8483.
•During the summer of 2012, NU Theatre will once again present free children's theater for the community. The N.U.R.T. (Niagara University Repertory Theatre) troupe will present a rotating repertoire of children's stories during July and August. Suitable for children ages 3 through 10, the N.U.R.T. group will perform in the Leary Theatre and at the bandshell in Academy Park in the Village of Lewiston. Dates and times for performances will be announced in the spring. Reservations are not required; seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
For tickets, visit http://theatre.niagara.edu/, stop by the box office in the lobby of the Elizabeth Ann Clune Center for Theatre (Monday-Friday 2:30-5:30 p.m. and one hour prior to curtain), call 716-286-8685 or email [email protected]. Voicemail messages and emails are returned as soon as possible.