Theatre department’s spring lineup sure to dazzle

Erin Mullins , Reporter

NKU’s theatre department is doing things a little different with this spring’s line bringing to life three very different productions: “Les Miserables,” “Mud Nostalgia” and The Y.E.S. Festival.

Michael Hatton, assistant theatre department chair, said the variety of productions the theatre department does every year is really important to help the students understand the “cannon and the depth…of dramatic literature.”

“It allows them to be well versed in all the different styles and genres…and to have experience working in those styles will serve them well in their careers,” Hatton said.

Les Miserables

The world famous story of Jean Valjean, a man who was wrongly imprisoned for 19 years in 19th century France who attempts to change his life after he is paroled while Police Inspector Javert relentless pursues him, comes to our NKU stage and will enchant and enthrall audience members of all ages.

Director Ken Jones said the department has always wanted to do Les Mis, but Broadway held the rights to it for years.

“It was only in the past few years that they released the rights to universities to do [it],” Jones said. “With the new revival of Les Mis on Broadway, the rights were going to be taken back, so we knew we had to make our move now. “

Jason Vest, assistant professor of voice, has been cast to play the lead Valjean as a guest performer and will bring a professional perspective to the role.

“It’s a great learning experience for the students to hear this guy who can sing like nobody’s business,” Jones said. “They get to learn what professionalism is really [with] somebody who’s been out in the business singing in opera, singing in musical theater, making a living at it is on the stage with them.”

Jones experienced professional guest performers while he was at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard and understands how some students might be upset.

“You might be frustrated that you didn’t get a shot at that role, but that soon left your mind when you saw how good they were,” Jones said, “and you got to make that connection with that actor too.”

Auditions for the smash-hit musical were Monday with rehearsals beginning Wednesday until the show opens Feb. 19 in NKU’s Corbett Theatre.

Mud Nostalgia

Professional actress and NKU’s own provost, Sue Ott Rowland, will perform a one-woman show that explores the rich culture and history of the unique snake handling religions of the Appalachian regions.

Playing the wife of a snake-handling preacher, Ott Rowland tells an intriguing story of faith and redemption through humor, music and the beauty of life and love.

“It presents a lot of complex issues that we hear about but we don’t really know about so I think it will be a neat eye-opening experience,” Gabbard said.

The show runs from March 26-28 in NKU’s Corbett Theatre.

The Y.E.S. Festival

The 17th Biennial Year End Series (Y.E.S.) Festival of New Plays will host the world premiere of three new plays.  In the fall, the theatre department received hundreds of submissions that were narrowed down by a group of faculty and staff members, according to Tyler Gabbard, fine arts manager.

Opening the festival will be “It’s a Grand Night for Murder” by Joe Starzky, directed by Terry Powell.  This play tells the tale of the twist of events that transpire when an older man decides to act on his impulse to kill his wife so he can be with his younger mistress.  

“The Divine Visitor” by David L. Williams, directed by Michael King, is the story of a man who, after faking his own death, begins seducing the townswomen as his ghost and finds himself confused for a messenger from God.

“Encore, Encore” by Colin Speers will feature guest director Ed Cohen to finish out the festival. This tragicomedy tells the story of legendary drama critic Dorothy Parker; her turbulent marriage, her rise to fame and the price of living her life in the spot light.

The three plays will be performed in NKU’s Robert & Rosemary Stauss and Corbett Theatres from April 16-26.

Hatton said people should get their tickets soon because they will sell out quickly and that while they are at the box office outside of Corbett Theatre or while they are online, they should take a peek at the summer dinner theatre season too.

“We have two amazing productions for the summer; the great comedy ‘Sunshine Boys’ followed by musical, ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,’” Hatton said.

Also, the theatre department will be announcing next year’s season soon so stay tuned!