New Theatre UCF Season Filled with Laughter, Collaborations
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,” said 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.
“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,” said Jeffrey Moore, chair of the UCF Music Department.
“Joint projects like this help provide the students and audience with an outstanding evening of musical theater, while also underscoring the enhanced value that the new performance spaces will bring to the shared experience.”
The academic season comes to an end with the Annual Dance Concert, which will retain its format of short dance pieces choreographed and danced by students. This event is a showcase for the dance minor program, and includes many students who are majoring in fields outside of theatre. The event is also a showcase for the department’s design students, with a heavy emphasis on lighting and costumes.
There will be two additional shows in Summer 2014, which are yet to be announced. It is expected that one will be a musical and the other a comedy.
Book and lyrics by Tom Jones
Music by Harvey Schmidt
Directed by Be Boyd
Remember the days of sweet young love in this romantic charmer of a musical. The Fantasticks is the longest running production in American theatre history for good reason: the intimate and funny poetry of the script, the catchy songs, the nostalgic story…everyone in the family will be enchanted.
Aug. 22-Sept. 1
By Steve Martin
Adapted from Carl Sternheim
Directed by Kate Ingram
Much to the dismay of boorish Theo Maske, his wife became a public scandal when she accidentally dropped her undergarments in public. Theo decides to keep her out of public view to avoid future incidents, but chaos ensues when some witnesses to the incident decide they’d like to see a little more. Steve Martin’s laugh-out-loud comedy is a retelling of Carl Sternheim’s 1910 play Die Hose.
“An ambitious amalgam of comic book and social commentary, made out of sex jokes, slamming doors and sophisticated repartee.” – New York Times
Sept. 19-Oct. 5
The Drowsy Chaperone
Music & Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison
Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar
Directed by Earl D. Weaver
When a die-hard musical-theater fan plays his favorite cast album on his turntable, the 1920s musical literally bursts to life in his living room, telling the rambunctious tale of a brazen Broadway starlet, her boozy chaperone, and a rambunctious crew of wedding guests.
“Here is a musical that frankly sets itself up as a short [1 hour 40 minutes], happy exercise in escapism, adorned with just enough postmodern footnotes to make you feel all insiderly. It’s sort of like being able to eat your cake and diet too.” –New York Times
Oct. 17-Nov. 2
Shipwrecked! An Entertainment—The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself)
Written by Donald Margulies
Directed by Mark Brotherton
An adaptation of the Victorian memoirs of would-be adventurer Louis de Rougemont, Shipwrecked! spins together anecdotes of a man-eating octopus, flying turtles, and pearl-fishing expedition gone mightily awry. Suitable for ages 10 and up.
Written by David Edgar
Adapted from Charles Dickens’ novel
In collaboration with Orlando Shakespeare Theater
Directed by Jim Helsinger and Christopher Niess
A cast of 30 plays more than 150 characters in this exhilarating two-part play following a virtuous young Nicholas as he meets and masters the challenges of poverty and corruption in Victorian England. Winner of both the Tony Award for Best Play and The Olivier Award for Play of the Year, this epic event has never been produced in Central Florida. The cast is pulling out all the stops to capture Dickens’ genius for combining exuberant characters, theatrical spectacle, and genuine emotion.
Jan. 22-March 9 (Tickets to be sold through the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre box office.)
Written by Deborah Zoe Laufer
Directed by Mark Routhier
Ian, Zan, and Chuck are two years out of college and playing video games 20 hours a day when the government comes looking for expert gamers to launch remote missiles. And the bombs, the guns, the screams, the victories are eerily similar to the ones on their Xbox.
“Leveling Up couldn’t be more topical.” –Cincinnati.com “Arts in Focus”
Meredith Willson’s The Music Man
Book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson
Story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey
Directed by Lani Harris
Dust off those trombones, we’re heading to River City, Iowa, where fast-talking salesman Harold Hill is about to have all of his schemes foiled by Marian, that lovely librarian. This long-beloved musical will be a joint production between the Theatre and Music Departments.
Feb. 20-March 2
8th Annual Dance Concert
Directed by Earl Weaver
A perennial favorite! UCF dancers, choreographers, and designers showcase their talents.
Subscription pricing is available at theatre.ucf.edu. Single tickets will be available mid-summer.
Box Office Phone: 407-823-1500
Box Office Hours: Monday through Friday: noon to 6 p.m. and 2 hours before performances
For more information about Theatre UCF, visit http://theatre.ucf.edu.