THE FANTASTICKS, LEVELING UP and More Set for Theatre UCF 2013-14 Season
The Theatre UCF 2013-14 season focuses on fun and collaboration while delivering shows that are relevant to the community and the university's theatre students.
Members of the UCF Theatre faculty and staff consider many productions each year in order to put together a coherent season that meets the needs of the department.
"Selecting a performance season is a complex process of meeting the needs of theatre students, the University of Central Florida, and Central Florida audiences," says Theatre Department Chair Christopher Niess.
"We are pleased to have met current budgetary challenges felt in all areas of higher education, and emerged with a season that includes new, relevant and challenging material, collaborative work that will enhance production, imaginative work in a variety of genre, and well-loved classics of the theatre as well."
The productions in fall 2013 focus on fun and fantasy. In order to have a production ready at the beginning of the fall semester, one of the summer shows is selected to return. This year the reprised production will be the beloved musical The Fantasticks, directed by Be Boyd. In the past several years, the department has presented a play rather than a musical for the reprise, but the simplicity and small cast of The Fantasticks makes it a show that can be performed during the summer, when fewer students attend classes.
Steve Martin's comedy The Underpants will follow in September. Based on a 1910 play about a man whose wife can't keep her underwear from falling down, the play is fast-paced, funny, and full of energy. It will be directed by Kate Ingram.
The fall musical is The Drowsy Chaperone, which provides great singing and dancing opportunities for the theatre students, as well as a fun evening for the audience. The songs are styled after 1920s tunes and include the show-stopping number "Show Off," where a young starlet sings about being ready to leave the spotlight of show business for marriage, while doing every possible physical stunt to get attention. Director Earl D. Weaver has created a walk-on guest role for each performance that will be filled by a UCF or Orlando community member.
In Shipwrecked! An Entertainment. The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself), which will run for the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, audience members will relive the fantastical autobiographical tales of Louis de Rougemont, a real-life would-be adventurer, who frequently blurred the line between reality and fiction. Director Mark Brotherton will expand the usual three-person cast to include more actors, providing more performance opportunities for the theatre students.
In the spring semester, the theatre department is focused on collaborations and partnerships. Leveling Up was read in the 2012 Playfest! The Harriett Lake Festival of New Plays. The contemporary play centers around four video gamers, who are recruited by the government to launch remote missiles. This will be the first UCF play directed by Mark Routhier, who is the Director of New Play Development at the Orlando Shakes, as well as a faculty member at Theatre UCF.
"The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby is one of those projects whose challenges make it a rare treat when performed," says Niess of the next production.
"The play embraces Dickens ability to give us characters with innocent optimism, through circumstance take us to the brink of despair, and through humor, hope and faith to wind up showing us some of the best sides of humanity."
Niess continues, "We are excited to participate with the Shakes, not just in bringing this production to a Central Florida audience, but we also embrace the educational value this project has for Theatre UCF and its young actors, assistant designers, and stage managers. Jim Helsinger and I are also investigating opportunity for cross-discipline work with other departments at UCF as well - a project such as this one has immense value not only for the University of Central Florida, but for other regional colleges and universities. Nicholas Nickleby is a ripe subject for scholarly scrutiny on a national level as well."
The collaborations continue, as the Theatre and Music Departments join forces for the spring musical, Meredith Willson's classic The Music Man. "This integrated and cooperative approach to performing affords students the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary environment, an environment that more closely reflects the world in which they will work as trained professionals," says Jeffrey Moore, chair of the UCF Music Department.