Ashland University Theatre Presenting ‘A Season Of Comedy From Stage And Screen’

Aaron Arnold and Johanna Regan appear in Ashland University Theatre's fall 2011 production of Annie Baker's "Circle Mirror Transformation."

8/30/12 ASHLAND, Ohio - Ashland University Theatre has set its 2012-2013 season of "Comedy from Stage and Screen," which features four great stories that have experienced commercial and critical successes as both stage productions and Hollywood films. From romantic comedies to farce, satire and a horror musical, Ashland University Theatre offers a season of humor and fun.

The season opens with William Inge's “Bus Stop,” which first appeared on Broadway in 1955 and then on the big screen starring Marilyn Monroe in 1956. In this romantic comedy, a freak snow storm forces a passenger bus to have a weather-enforced layover in a Kansas road-side diner. Romantic relationships and friendships ensue while lives intersect among eight ordinary yet quirky characters. Directed by Professor of Theatre Ric Goodwin, evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. in the intimate Studio Theatre on Sept. 27-29, Oct. 4-6, along with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sept. 30.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde, the most famous of all comedies, opened on Broadway in 1895 and first appeared on film in 1952. Part satire, part comedy of manners, and part intellectual farce, the script revolves wittily around the most ingenious case of "manufactured" mistaken identity ever put into a play. It presents a world that is so blatantly and ostentatiously artificial while taking aim at self-righteous moralism and hypocrisy. Directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Dr. Teresa Durbin-Ames, performances in Hugo Young Theatre are Nov. 2, 3, 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 4 at 2 p.m.

The comedy horror rock-musical “Little Shop of Horrors” by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken went from the big screen in 1960 to Off-Broadway in 1982. An affectionate spoof of the 1950s sci-fi movies, the musical stars a hapless floral shop worker who becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant with a mysterious craving for fresh blood. Soon "Audrey II" grows into an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore who offers him fame and fortune in exchange for feeding its growing appetite. Directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre Fabio Polanco with senior music education major Eddie Carney as musical director, performances in Hugo Young Theatre are slated for Feb. 22, 23, March 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 24.

The season will close with “A Life in the Theatre” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet. This play opened Off-Broadway in 1977 and was made into a television movie in 1993 starring Matthew Broderick and Jack Lemmon. This comedy about the artifice of acting portrays a professional relationship and a shifting balance of power between an aging, less-than-successful veteran and an eager, often clumsy rookie. As the play ensues, the two actors are involved in a variety of productions and gradually their relationship begins to change. Starring Professor Ric Goodwin as the veteran actor, the show is co-directed by Goodwin and senior theatre education major Nathaniel Sayatovich. The performances in the Studio Theatre are April 10-13 at 7:30 p.m., and April 14 at 2 p.m.

Each main stage production will host one talkback session with cast and crew members following a Friday evening performance. Audience members may remain seated following the performance to discuss and ask questions about the show on the following dates: Oct. 5 for “Bus Stop,” Nov. 9 for “The Importance of Being Earnest,” March 1 for “Little Shop of Horrors,” and April 12 for “A Life in the Theatre.” 

With performances slated to begin at the end of September and continue through April, reserved season tickets are available at the Ashland University Central Box Office beginning Tuesday, Sept. 4. Season tickets include admission to all four season productions at a reduced price compared to single tickets. Season tickets for all four productions are $32 for adults; and $28 for senior citizens, students and Ashland University faculty/staff. Single tickets are $10 for adult; $9 for senior citizens, students, University faculty/staff; $8 for groups of 10 or more; and $2 for Ashland University students with Eagle Card.

The theatre department is also presenting school matinee performances for “Bus Stop” on Oct. 4, “The Importance of Being Earnest” on Nov. 9, and “Little Shop of Horrors” on March 1. All school matinees begin at 9 a.m. All seats are $2 and can be reserved by calling 419-289-5950.

Additional theatre presentations for the 2012-2013 season include a senior project by Johanna Regan and the annual Drop of a Hat Players showcase. Although free and open to the public, admission to these events requires a reservation through the University’s Box Office to guarantee a seat. This fall, senior musical theatre major Johanna Regan of Killingworth, Conn., presents a musical theatre revue titled “The Color of Love” in the Studio Theatre on Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. The theatre department’s musical revue troupe, Drop of a Hat Players, performs its annual showcase on April 13 at 2 p.m. in the Studio Theatre. 

To purchase tickets, call the Ashland University Box Office at 419-289-5125, Monday through Friday, 12 noon to 6 p.m. or order online anytime at www.ashland.edu/tickets (additional fees apply). For more information, visit the Web site at www.ashland.edu/theatre or contact Tricia Applegate, coordinator of performing arts publicity and events, at 419-289-5950 or tapplega@ashland.edu.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.