BUS STOP, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and More Set for USM Department of Theatre's 2014-15 Season

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BUS STOP, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and More Set for USM Department of Theatre's 2014-15 Season

The University of Southern Maine (USM) Department of Theatre is presenting an innovative and enlightening six-show season for 2014-2015, replete with skirt-chasing dames, lonely love-torn souls, original dance, a production at the Portland Stage Studio Theater featuring a satirical southern belle and her hypochondriac son, followed by a pistol-packing nun, and the Maine premiere of the sensational new musical, "Catch Me If You Can," as well as one of Shakespeare's most beloved comedies "shadowed" by American Sign Language interpreter-performers.

"The USM Theatre Department has a history of presenting both educational and groundbreaking productions, and our ambitious lineup for this season will continue that tradition," said Joan Mather, USM assistant professor of theatre and department chair. "This season, you'll see comedy, satire, drama, dance, a high-flying Maine premiere musical, and a cutting edge Shakespearean production. There truly is something for everyone!"

The season kicks off Sept. 25 with the naughty side of noir. Meghan Brodie, USM assistant professor of theatre, will direct an Actors' Lab concert reading of "The Well of Horniness," Holly Hughes' farcical radio play written as a response to the 1928 anti-homosexual novel, "The Well of Loneliness."

In the next production, eight strangers, stranded by a snowstorm at a roadside diner outside Kansas City, are compelled to examine their loneliness and their longing for love and companionship. "Bus Stop," William Inge's classic 1950s comedic drama will be directed by Thomas Power, USM professor of theatre, opening Oct. 31.

"Dance USM!," the bi-annual celebration of music and movement, directed by Maria Tzianabos, USM adjunct lecturer in theatre, will be presented early December. The performance will feature USM students performing the choreography of faculty, students and guest-choreographers. It will include numerous genres of dance, including contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, ballet and musical theater.

The USM department once again will present a production in downtown Portland; in Feburary 2015, it's a double dose of satire with An Evening with Christopher Durang, directed by William Steele, USM professor of theatre. Two of Durang's one-act comedies will be featured at the Studio Theater at Portland Stage: "For Whom The Southern Belle Tolls" (a twisted reincarnation of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie"), and "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You," which features an evangelizing, pistol-packing nun and a few of her former students who have some pretty strong opinions to share.

The Maine premiere of "Catch Me If You Can," opening March 13, 2015, is a collaboration of the USM Department of Theatre and School of Music. Wil Kilroy, USM professor of theatre, will direct, and Edward Reichert, USM lecturer in musical theatre, will serve as musical director. Vanessa Beyland will choreograph the astonishing real-life story -- first retold in the hit film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks -- of Frank Abignale Jr.'s cross-country adventure of forgery, womanizing and FBI-dodging. The musical premiered on Broadway in 2008 and features a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the team behind the Tony Award-winning musical, "Hairspray."

Closing the season in April, Assunta Kent, USM associate professor of theatre, will direct Shakespeare's pastoral comedy "As You Like It," which will feature American Sign Language (ASL) shadow-signing interpreters. ASL shadow-signed productions offer deaf and hearing-impaired audience members the experience of theater without having to watch a sole interpreter to the side of the stage. In Kent's production, the roles of the ASL "shadows" will be equal to those of the actors, and they will be integrated seamlessly into the story, offering an innovative manifestation of a story brimming with comedy and romance. Where "all the world's a stage," two female cousins (one daringly disguised as a wise-cracking boy) escape the tyranny of civilization for the Forest of Arden, where they meet lovelorn shepherds and disdainful shepherdesses, wise country folk and foolish yokels and discover the pleasures and pains of young love.

The popular "$5 at Five" Wednesday matinee performances will be offered for "Bus Stop" and "As You Like It," with a $10 matinee for "Catch Me If You Can." Tuesday-morning high school matinee performances will be offered for "Bus Stop" and "As You Like It." These 10 a.m. performances are an opportunity for students to experience professionally produced theater and for teachers to build educational activities around the subject matter of the show. All performances take place on the Main Stage of Russell Hall, USM, Gorham campus, with the exception of An Evening with Christopher Durang, which takes place in The Studio Theater at Portland Stage.


Actors' Lab Concert Reading: "The Well of Horniness"
By Holly Hughes
Directed by Meghan Brodie
Sept. 25-28, 2014
7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 25
7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 26
7:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27
5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 28

It's the naughty side of noir. "Reformed" lesbian Vicki has forsaken the sorority of sin, Tridelta Tribades, only to be plunged into monogamous monotony with her shag-carpet-pedaling, soon-to-be-husband Rod, whose sister, Georgette, happens to be a tried-and-true member of the Tribades. After a brief encounter between the two women, a shot rings out and a panicked Vicki scrams. So who is the femme fatale? Could it be Vicki? The hatcheck girl with a grudge? Detective Garnet McClit is on the case in this concert reading of Holly Hughes' farcical radio play.
Includes mature subject matter.

"Bus Stop"
By William Inge
Directed by Thomas Power
Oct. 31-Nov. 9, 2014
7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 7
7:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1 and Nov. 8
5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 2 and Nov. 9
10 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 4; high school matinee
5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 5; "$5 at 5" performance
7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 6

Love, longing and loneliness are the desperations du jour when strangers are stranded in a Midwest diner by a snowstorm. Cherie, an aspiring nightclub singer, has been waylaid onto a cross-country escapade by her one-night-stand, Bo, a brazen cowboy who is intent on homesteading with his beloved. While the seasoned bus driver and lonesome diner owner take advantage of the close quarters, the charming, multiple-divorced professor recites romantic poetry -- between drinks -- to the countrified teenaged waitress. Lifelong triumphs and failures are confronted, and destiny forecasts who will end up together or ultimately alone.

"Dance USM!"
An original performance
Directed by Maria Tzianabos
Dec. 4-7, 2014
7:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 4
7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 5
7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6
5 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 7

"Dance USM!" features original works by USM students, faculty and guest-choreographers in a variety of genres - hip hop, ballet, contemporary, jazz, musical theatre and more. Join us for this bi-annual celebration of movement and music as students leap, spin, crank and two-step in a dynamic showcase of talent and skill.

An Evening with Christopher Durang: "For Whom The Southern Belle Tolls" and "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You"
By Christopher Durang
Directed by William Steele
Feb. 6-14, 2015
7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 6 and Feb. 13
7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 7 and Feb. 14
7:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 8
7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 10
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 11
7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 12
Performances take place off-campus at the Portland Stage Studio Theater.

Join USM Theatre at the Portland Stage Studio Theater for an evening with America's favorite parodist. First is a twisted incarnation of "The Glass Menagerie," where fading Southern belle Amanda readies her hypochondriac son Lawrence for a "feminine caller," though he'd rather focus on his treasured collection of glass cocktail stirrers. Sister Mary joins us for the second half of the evening to indoctrinate us on the dangers of sin, but a few of her old pupils weigh in with their own opinions. In typical farcical fashion, over-the-top characters abound as real-world dilemmas are dissected through an ironic lens of absurdity.

"Catch Me If You Can"
Book by Terrance McNally and score by Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman
Directed by Wil Kilroy
Musical Direction by Edward Reichert
Choreography by Vanessa Beyland
A co-production with the USM School of Music
March 13-22, 2015
7:30 p.m., Friday, March 13 and March 20
7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 14 and March 21
5 p.m., Sunday, March 15 and March 22
5 p.m., Wednesday, March 18; all seats $10
7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 19

Come along for the ride as teenager Frank Abignale Jr. ditches suburban life for a high-class world of glitz and glamour - and fake IDs, forged checks and a tail by the FBI! The world-class con artist successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, winning the hearts of women and the trust of men, all while playing a cat-and-mouse game with FBI agent Carl Hanratty. Based on the hit film and astonishing real-life story, "Catch Me if You Can" is a fast-paced new musical with infectious, hard-driving jazz and glorious big-band sound!

"As You Like It"
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Assunta Kent
April 17-26, 2015
7:30 p.m., Friday, April 17 and April 24
7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 18 and April 25
5 p.m., Sunday, April 19 and April 26
10 a.m., Tuesday, April 21; high school matinee
5 p.m., Wednesday, April 22; "$5 at 5" performance
7: 30 p.m., Thursday, April 23

Escape the tyranny of Civilization and the strictures of Winter into a Summer of Love! Join two female cousins (one daringly disguised as a wise-cracking boy) "chaperoned" by their Fool or a youngest brother with his aged manservant as they discover the pleasures and pains of pastoral love. Meet Shakespeare's lovelorn shepherds and disdainful shepherdesses, wise country folk and foolish yokels. Eavesdrop on the exiled Duke, his band of merry men, and the melancholy Jacques expounding on the "seven ages of man." Come to the Forest of Arden!


Season Flex Passes are available for $45. A Flex Pass includes six tickets to be used in any combination (with a limit of two for the musical). To purchase a Flex Pass or individual tickets, go to www.usm.maine.edu/theatre and click on "Purchase Tickets," or call the USM Theatre Box Office at (207) 780-5151. Plays: $15, general admission; $11, seniors, USM employees and alumni; $8, students Musical: $21, general admission; $15, seniors, USM employees and alumni; $10, students High School Matinee: Contact the USM Theatre Box Office at (207) 780-5151.

For more information about the USM Department of Theatre, go to www.usm.maine.edu/theatre. For more information about USM's College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, go to www.usm.maine.edu/cahs.

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