Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Illinois Wesleyan's Fall Season

If the midsummer heat is getting to you, and you'd like to start thinking ahead to cool fall shows, Illinois Wesleyan's fall theater schedule is ready for you. IWU has become known for edge as well as excellence, going the extra mile to pay off cutting-edge work, especially when it comes to musicals. The 2011-12 season will continue that trend, taking on challenging shows as well as a couple of classics.

First up in McPherson Theatre, Thomas Anthony Quinn (right now on stage in "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival) will direct Lillian Hellman's 1934 play, "The Childen's Hour," a scary story of just how much trouble malicious gossip can cause when unleashed at a small boarding school for girls. "The Children's Hour" opens September 27 and runs through October 2.

Josh Tobiessen's "Election Day" is up next in the E. Melba Kirkpatrick Laboratory Theatre, directed by Allison Sutton. "Election Day" is a fast and furious comedy about a politically incompatible boy and girl, ecoterrorists, and a mayoral campaign that is totally out of control. Just in time for fall elections, this one plays October 20-22 at the Lab Theatre.

"Hello Again," Michael John LaChiusa's musical about lonely people circling each other's love lives, comes to McPherson November 15-20 under the direction of Scott Susong. Susong brought us selections from LaChiusa in "Lonely Nurse" last season, and this time he goes for the full-length "Hello Again," which is based on the 1897 play "La Ronde" by Arthur Schnitzler. Like Schnitzler, LaChiusa tells the story of ten different people, from a whore to a soldier and senator, two at a time, as they meet up and try to find some connection. "Hello Again" is sexy and dark, and it will be very interesting to see what Susong does with it.

Molier's "Tartuffe," the 17th century French satire that punctures religious pomposity, is back at McPherson February 14-19, directed by Nancy Loitz, with "Promenade," directed by Jean Kerr, taking the stage in early April. "Promenade" is is an oddball mix of musical comedy (with book and lyrics by María Irene Fornés and music by Rev. Al Carmines) and Theater of the Absurd, involving two escaped prisoners and what they make of the world outside their prison bars. Look for "Promenade" April 5-10 at McPherson Theatre.

Rounding out the season are two "To Be Announced" choices for the E. Melba Kirkpatrick Laboratory Theatre, one in March and one in May.

You can see the whole schedule here or call 309-556-3232 to speak to someone at the box office.


  1. La Ronde as a musical! Oo la la!

  2. I love that "round" structure. I've always wanted to write something like that, where one character moves into the next scene with someone new, and then the new person moves into the next scene with someone even newer, who moves into the next scene... It's very intriguing. With "Hello Again," it's also verra, verra sexy. When it was done recently in NY, all the reviews talked about the in-your-face nudity and sex. So I'm guessing it will be somewhat less naked at IWU. But probably still provocative.

  3. The original production, though no doubt provocative, wasn't that naked either -- not at all, as far as I ever heard. So it's definitely not required. That cast, by the way, was one of those great off-Broadway collections of future big names: among them were Donna Murphy, Judy Blazer, Michael Park, Carolee Carmello, John Cameron Mitchell, Malcolm Gets, Michele Pawk, John Dossett. (Yes, this is when now-long-married Michele and John met.)

    One difference between this and other versions of the "la ronde" idea is that the historical period jumps between one episode and the next. So we have 10 scenes in 10 different decades, and not in chronological order. This gives LaChiusa the chance to play with different musical styles: opera, disco, swing, etc.

  4. How very interesting! Wesleyan has a great musical theater program, so for all we know, we may be seeing the next Donna Murphy or Judy Blazer or Malcolm Gets in this production! (I'm going to have to look up who played whom in that production. Michael Park the soldier and John Dossett the senator? And which one of those ladies is the ho? None of them see ho-like to me.)

    I know that the director, Scott Susong, is very fond of Michael John LaChiusa's work, so that bodes well for the production.

  5. Well, I got John Dossett right. But Michael Park was the College Boy, and classy, stunning Donna Murphy was the Whore. D'oh!

  6. Keep an eye on Laura Williams (The Whore). She played Percy in the Spitfire Grille and Lady Larken in Once upon a Mattress.