AU Theatre Closes Season with Award-Winning Dark Comedy

AU Theatre Closes Season with Award-Winning Dark Comedy

3/25/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University Theatre closes the eclectic 2014-2015 season of four "Somethings" with John Guare's award-winning dark comedy "The House of Blue Leaves" as "Something Blue." Directed by Dr. Teresa Durbin-Ames, associate professor of theatre, the performances will be staged in the intimate Studio Theatre on April 9, 10, 11, 15, 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 12, at 2 p.m. Patrons are advised to secure their tickets early due to the limited seating in the Studio Theatre.

Set in Queens in 1965 on the day of Pope Paul VI's visit to New York City, the play follows nuns; a political bombing; a GI headed for Vietnam; a zookeeper who dreams of making it big in Hollywood as a songwriter; and his wife Bananas, a schizophrenic destined for the institution that provides the play's title.

Originally staged in 1965, the show opened in 1971 Off-Broadway with revivals produced Off-Broadway in 1986 and On Broadway in 2011. Throughout its runs in New York, the productions won numerous awards including the 1971 Drama Critics' Circle and Obie Awards for Best American Play; the 1986 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival, Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Play (Jerry Zaks), Best Featured Actor in a Play (John Mahoney), Best Featured Actress in a Play (Swoosie Kurtz) and Best Scenic Design (Tony Walton); and the 2011 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play (Edie Falco). 

A film adaptation was staged in 1987 specifically for a broadcast on the PBS series American Playhouse starring Swoosie Kurtz, John Mahoney, Christine Baranski and Ben Stiller.

Guare’s play is the result of an explosive combination of a lifetime of dreams and realities. Blending historical and personal events, he describes the play in his introduction as “a blur of many years that pulled together under the umbrella of the Pope’s visit.” 

Based on the playwright’s father (who referred to his Wall Street job as a “zoo”), zookeeper Artie Shaughnessy comes home to his insane wife Bananas, respectively played by senior theatre majors Nick Seemann (Bath, Ohio) and Taylor Stepp (Atwater, Ohio). Artie’s mistress, Bunny Flingus, who lives in the apartment below is played by sophomore musical theatre major Andrea Disch (East Liverpool, Ohio); while senior theatre major De'Andre Peterson (Garfield Heights, Ohio) plays his 18-year-old son, Ronnie, whom is currently a serviceman stationed at Fort Dix.

In the course of the play’s manic action, visitors arrive to see the Pope including Hollywood actress Corrinna Stroller played by sophomore musical theatre major Eryn Reynolds Tramel (Medina, Ohio); Hollywood director and Artie's childhood best friend Billy Einhorn played by senior theatre major Benjamin Isaiah Black (Akron, Ohio); and three nuns played by Tory Flemming (Plano, Texas), Natalyn Baisden (Wooster, Ohio) and Mary Joyce Myers (St. Joseph, Missouri). Rounding out the cast are first time actors Aaron Sensenbrenner (Miamisburg, Ohio) and Jesse Foertch (Mansfield, Ohio).

The production's set and lighting is designed by Assistant Professor of Theatre and Resident Scenic Designer Jason Coale with sophomore theatre major Elizabeth Davis Newhouse (Solon, Ohio) as the assistant scene designer, and freshman theatre major Seth Morrison (Millersburg, Ohio) as the assistant lighting designer. Assistant Professor of Theatre and Resident Costume Designer Sarah Russell designed the costumes while technical director J. Michael Desper is the sound designer, and sophomore musical theatre major Ceyanna Stasick (Sullivan, Ohio) is the show's stage manager. 

Single tickets for the performances are: $12 for adult; $10 for senior citizens, AU faculty, staff and alumni; $8 for groups of 10 or more, $5 for non-AU students and children, and $2 for Ashland University students with ID. They can be ordered by phone at 419-289-5125, Monday through Friday, noon to 6 p.m., or 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 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. ###