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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, KINDNESS and More Set for Kean Department of Theatre's 2014-2015 Season

Kean University's Department of Theatre will present a classic comedy of manners, the winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a family-friendly musical about a boy who famously refuses to grow up, and a play for young audiences based on the playwright's interviews with real-life middle school students as part of its much-anticipated 2014-2015 season.

"We are looking forward to entertaining our audiences with a comedy, a drama, a high-flying musical and a topical anti-bullying play for children," stated Department of Theatre spokeswoman and faculty member Holly Logue. "We look forward to welcoming audiences to our theatres during the academic year, and hope every audience member will become one of our 'regulars.'"

The 2014-2015 season, which includes Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Lynn Nottage's Ruined, a musical version of James M. Barrie's Peter Pan, and Dennis Foon's Kindness, "was selected as part of our systematic approach to assuring that students and audiences are exposed to a wide range of theatre genres, styles, and topics," Ms. Logue continued. "We also look to provide our theatre design and technical students the opportunity to experience different design aesthetics and develop skills in scenic design, painting and construction, costume design and construction, prop-making, sound effects and enhancements, and projections that align with those artistic choices."

The season opens with Oscar Wilde's much-loved The Importance of Being Earnest (October 17 - 25, 2014), directed by faculty member E. Teresa Choate, in Kean's Zella Fry Theatre. In late Victorian England, Jack and Algernon, two young men-about-town, escape from tedious social obligations by pretending to be someone that they are not: "Ernest." Double lives and double standards lead to manic confusion when the loves of their lives, Gwendolyn and Cecily, both fall in love with the man they think is Ernest. In a tangle of mistaken identity and sparkling wordplay, the lovers also face the formidable obstacle of Lady Bracknell, a woman who would beat Cupid into submission if social status and public opinion were in jeopardy.

"Oscar Wilde said of his philosophy concerning Importance, 'that we should treat all trivial things very seriously and all the serious things in life with sincere and studied triviality,'" said Ms. Choate, who also helmed last season's thoughtful production of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt. "Oscar Wilde's 'Trivial Comedy for Serious People' skewers social customs and the maniacal obsession with keeping up appearances, making it as relevant in today's socially-connected and preoccupied times as it was in Victorian England. The two sets of young lovers are trying to be the height of propriety, while simultaneously breaking every rule in the book. Something desperate lovers have been doing since love was discovered."

The Department of Theatre will follow Mr. Wilde's delightfully airy confection with Ruined (November 14 - 22, 2014), Lynn Nottage's harrowing play about sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, directed by faculty member Ernest Wiggins in the Zella Fry Theatre. As sexual violence against women escalates worldwide, the rape of women has increasingly become, as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton termed it, a "weapon of mass destruction." While set in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, Ms. Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning play sounds a note of universal warning, demanding immediate and unequivocal global action. Theatre critic David Cote praised the original New York production as "intense and gripping... the kind of play we desperately need - a crackling thriller with humor, plot twists and lots of humanity."

The Department will kick off its spring semester with the high-flying Broadway musical Peter Pan (February 20 - 28, 2015) in Wilkins Theatre. Based on the play by Sir James M. Barrie, Peter Pan features lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and music by Morris "Moose" Charlap (with additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and additional music by Jule Styne), and will be directed by Holly Logue with choreography by Michele Mossay. In this timeless classic, Peter and his mischievous fairy sidekick Tinkerbell visit the nursery of the Darling children late one night, and - with a sprinkle of pixie dust - begin a magical journey across the stars that none of them will ever forget. In the adventure of a lifetime, the travelers come face to face with a ticking crocodile, a fierce Indian tribe, a band of bungling pirates, and - of course - the villainous Captain Hook.

The 2014-2015 season concludes with Dennis Foon's Kindness (April 1 - 8, 2015), which will play Kean's Zella Fry Theatre before embarking on a tour of area schools and community groups. Directed by Kean Theatre and Education major Becca Dagnall and recommended for grades 1 - 6, this remarkable play is based on the playwright's real interviews with Canadian middle school students, and uncovers the compassion and empathy that students express to each other in the face of adversities. Without ignoring the problems and tough decisions young people face, Kindness invites its audience to see themselves onstage, and guides them toward coping skills. Performances begin April 1, with touring dates available.

Standard tickets to all Department of Theatre performances are $15, with $12 tickets available for Kean faculty, staff, and alumni, and $10 tickets available for students. To purchase tickets or request a season brochure, call the Kean Stage box office at 908-737-SHOW (7469), email ticket@kean.edu, or visit www.keanstage.com.

Founded in 1855, Kean University is New Jersey's most affordable comprehensive public university. As one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, Kean boasts a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment serving nearly 15,000 students. The Nathan Weiss Graduate College offers three doctorate degree programs and more than 60 options for graduate study leading to master's degrees, professional diplomas or certifications. With locations in Union Township and Toms River, New Jersey, the University's five undergraduate colleges offer 49 undergraduate degrees over a full range of academic disciplines.



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