WCU’s Mainstage Season includes musicals, tragedy – and zombies

by Jul 29, 2013A&E, Happenings0 comments

CULLOWHEE – A series of theatrical productions designed to keep audiences on the edge of their seats is scheduled for the 2013-14 Stage and Screen Mainstage Season at Western Carolina University – and one features a new role for a Broadway actor.

Tickets for individual productions and season passes go on sale Tuesday, Aug. 6, at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center’s box office.

Opening and closing with two musical dramas, with an experimental new comedy and a classic play by Ibsen sandwiched between, the season begins Wednesday – Saturday, Sept. 25-28, with the rock musical “Next to Normal,” directed by multiple Tony Award nominee Terrence Mann, who holds WCU’s Carolyn Plemmons Phillips and Ben R. Phillips Distinguished Professorship in Musical Theatre. Co-direction and musical direction is provided by Nathan Thomas, director of the musical theatre program, and choreography by Karyn Tomczak, WCU’s dance program director. The book and lyrics of Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt portray the struggle of a suburban mom with depression, memory loss, worsening bipolar disorder and the effects on her family members – as well as her unsure relationships with them. Suffused with humor and hope, the play won three Tony Awards during its original run – and does contain mature content and language. Curtain time will be 7:30 p.m. each evening in Hoey Auditorium.

“Zombies on Campus! A SlaughterPocalypse” premieres Nov. 13 in a large and familiar venue, but features an intimate stage setting in the space. Written and directed by D.V. Caitlyn, assistant professor of theatre, the comedic play-within-a-play tells the story of young theatre majors coming to terms with their lives, studies, lines for “Macbeth,” and the assault on their onstage refuge by the flesh-consuming undead. The conflict begins at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, through Friday, Nov. 15, and Sunday, Nov. 17, through Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Bardo Arts Center.

Henrik Ibsen described his 1879 “A Doll’s House” as a “modern tragedy”; it has since become one of the world’s most performed plays. It reveals the love, deceptions – and self-deceptions – that lead a woman with few alternatives to re-evaluate her own identity as a wife and mother, as well as her relationship to her husband … all complicated by an unexpected admirer. Performance time will be 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 12-15, with a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Feb. 16. Presented in Hoey Auditorium and adapted/directed by Brenda Lilly, School of Stage and Screen faculty member, this version is set in 1962 – a time when feminism was beginning to put the brakes on patriarchy.

Mann, who earned a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal of Javert in the original Broadway cast of “Les Miserables” in 1987, will take on the role of director for WCU’s April 3-6 performances of the musical in the Bardo Arts Center. The script by Alain Boubil and Claude-Michel Schonberg (based on the novel by Victor Hugo) and English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer portray policeman Javert’s relentless pursuit of main character Jean Valjean, an escaped convict who served five years for stealing bread to feed his sister’s starving family – and 14 more for an escape attempt. The play, originally produced in France in 1980, ran for many years on Broadway and in touring productions thereafter and was released as a successful motion picture last year. Thomas will provide musical direction and Tomczak, choreography. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 3, through Saturday, April 5, and the matinee performance Sunday, April 6, at 3 p.m.

Subscriptions for the entire Mainstage season of four shows, available Tuesday, Aug. 6 through Saturday, Sept. 28, provide a substantial savings over individual show prices. Subscription prices are $50 for adults, $40 for seniors and WCU faculty and staff, and $20 for students.

Individual tickets for the two musical dramas, “Next to Normal” and “Les Miserables,” are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and WCU faculty and staff, and $7 (in advance) and $10 (day of show) for students. Individual tickets for the play “Zombies on Campus” and the drama “A Doll’s House” are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and WCU faculty and staff, and $7 (in advance) and $10 (day of show) for students.

Two special events will precede and follow the regular Mainstage season.

“Belcher and Friends,” a musical variety show featuring Chancellor David Belcher and his wife, Susan Brummell Belcher, as well as colleagues and students, will have one performance only at the Bardo Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3. It will feature pianist Belcher performing George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Though tickets are free, they must be reserved by calling the box office at 828-227-2479.

Set for 7 p.m. Friday, May 2, at the Bardo Arts Center, the sixth annual Controlled Chaos Film Festival will feature the best films written, directed and produced by students from WCU’s Film and Television Production Program. All seats are $10, with cash only accepted at the door.

For more general information about the Mainstage season and the film festival, contact WCU’s School of Stage and Screen at 828-227-7491. To order season subscriptions and individual tickets, call the Bardo Arts Center box office at 828-227-2479 or go online to FAPAC.wcu.edu.