2016-2017 AU Theatre Season Pursues Happiness

2016-2017 AU Theatre Season Pursues Happiness
Associate Professor of Theatre Dr. Teresa Durbin-Ames and Assistant Professor of Theatre Robert Sean Parker

9/12/16 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University Theatre has made public its 2016-2017 season schedule that reflects on the pursuit of happiness. From coming of age, to young love and mid-life crisis, people all learn and grow from life experiences and hope to find happiness along the way. This year, AU Theatre presents a collection of live theatre that offers humor, fantasy and drama on the journey to a fulfilled life beginning with Lillian Hellman's drama The Autumn Garden; followed by Pippin, winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival; and closing with the romantic comedy Almost, Maine.

The season opens on Friday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Hugo Young Theatre with The Autumn Garden directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Dr. Teresa Durbin-Ames. Set in a summer resort home in the Deep South in 1949, this drama uses humor, sharpness, integrity and toughness as old acquaintances in their 40s gather for their annual reunion. As they reflect on their misspent lives and paralyzing regrets, they realize that life isn’t what everyone thought it would be. Rather, it is about being honest with yourself and creating an identity that you can live with. In addition to opening night, performances continue on Oct. 22, 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 23, at 2 p.m.

For the second production, the season presents Stephen Schwartz’s hard-driving musical fable, Pippin, on Feb. 10-11, 17-18 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 12 at 2 p.m. in Hugo Young Theatre. For his Ashland directing debut, Assistant Professor of Theatre Robert Sean Parker joins musical director Dr. Rowland Blackley as they bring the story of the young prince Pippin to life as he searches for the secret of true happiness and fulfillment. From the glories of the battlefield, the temptations of the flesh and the intrigues of political power, Pippin finds that happiness lies not in extraordinary endeavors, but in the ordinary every day moments.

The season closes with John Cariani’s Almost, Maine directed by Durbin-Ames and is slated for March 29-April 1 at 7:30 p.m., and April 2 at 2 p.m. in the Studio Theatre. In the remote, mythical town of Almost, Maine, the northern lights hover in the star-filled sky as residents find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and often hilarious ways. A series of nine amiably absurdist and whimsical vignettes about love laced with magic realism, uncanny coincidences, metaphors taken literally and idioms come to life; basically a higher concept and more clever version of Hollywood hits like “Love Actually“ and “Valentine’s Day.”

New to the 2016-2017 season are opening night receptions for each of the main stage shows. The receptions, held on Oct. 21, Feb. 10 and March 29, will begin immediately following the performances and offer the audience a chance to celebrate with the cast and crew. The receptions are free with admission to the performance.

“Inside the Season” pre-show talks continue this season for each production and are free and open to the public. Patrons are invited to join the shows’ production teams at 6:45 p.m. on Fridays, Oct. 28, Feb. 17 and March 31 for a pre-show conversation. Audience members can get the inside story as they learn more about the history of the production and the artists who created it. The director and/or designers will prepare those attending for what they are about to see and leave them with a deeper understanding of the playwright and world of the play.

Season tickets are now on sale and include admission to all three season productions at a reduced price compared to single tickets. Season tickets for all three productions are: $28 for adults; $24 for senior citizens, Ashland University faculty, staff and alumni; and $12 for non-AU students. Single tickets 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 $2 for Ashland University students with ID.

The theatre department is also offering special school matinee performances for all three shows at 9 a.m. on Oct. 28 for The Autumn Garden, Feb. 17 for Pippin, and March 31 for Almost, Maine. All seats are $2 and can be reserved by calling 419-289-5950.

In addition to the above events, the theatre department will also present two free events that are open to the public. On Saturday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Studio Theatre, senior theatre major Andrea Disch along with another actor will perform scenes from Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon For the Misbegotten. On Sunday, April 9, at 2 p.m. in Hugo Young Theatre, the Drop of a Hat Players music theatre revue troupe will perform a joint spring showcase with the a cappella ensemble Surround Sound. Although free and open to the public, admission to these events require a reservation through the University’s Box Office to guarantee a seat.

To secure your 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 2016, 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.                  

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