AU Theatre Opens Season Navigating Between Real & Virtual Worlds

AU Theatre Opens Season Navigating Between Real & Virtual Worlds

9/25/17 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University Department of Theatre opens the 2017-2018 season with Deborah Zoe Laufer's 21st century American drama, “Leveling Up.” Directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Teresa Durbin-Ames, performances run for one week with 7:30 p.m. evening performances on Wednesday, Oct. 11, through Saturday, Oct. 14, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Oct. 15, in the Studio Theatre. Audiences are advised that this production includes adult language and content.

The play is about three twenty-something roommates who are glued to their video games and have a hard time navigating the blurry line between their virtual and real worlds. They spend hours with people playing virtual war games and think they are their friends, but do they really know them. When one of them uses his gaming skills to land a job with the National Security Agency launching actual drones and missiles, he begins to realize that not everything is “just a game” and there are real consequences.

With the theatre season’s theme of “Building Bridges,” AU Theatre is striving to provide opportunities to better understand ourselves and others with performances that encourage dialogue about challenges in our world today. “Leveling Up” dramaturg and cast member Jake Riley explains, “This isn’t a play to merely present you with a meaning, but to get you asking questions about reality, friendships, futures, and anything else to start a discussion.”

Comprised of roles for three males and one female, the cast includes the three roommates who live in an apartment in Las Vegas, Nev., and one of their girlfriends. The most serious of the gamers, Ian, is played by sophomore theatre major Alejandro Ridolfi (Parma Heights); while his roommates Chuck and Zander are portrayed by senior vocal music major Jake Riley (Wooster) and freshman graphic design major Tristan Peterman (Canton), respectively. Jeannie, Zander's girlfriend, is played by sophomore musical theatre major Maya Rickard (Wooster). 

The show’s production staff includes guest lighting designer Wally Eastland. As a lighting and scenic designer for theatre, dance and opera in both the U.S. and Australia, he has worked for companies such as North Carolina Stage Company, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Lost Nation Theatre, Cumberland County Playhouse, Sly Rat Theatre Company, and LA MAMA Australia. His selected credits include: 4000 Miles, On The Verge, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Steel Magnolias, Driving Miss Daisy, The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and Valse Fantaisie. Eastland earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and is a proud Member of United Scenic Artists Local 829. 

Other production designers include AU Theatre Technical Director J. Michael Desper as the scenic and sound designer with assistance from student designers Ivey Buffenmyer (Ashland) and Nik Demers (Shelby), while Drew Berlin (Barberton) serves as the costume designer. Patricia E. Lanious is the show's production manager with senior theatre majors Jessica Dupee (Wellington) as the stage manager and Seth Morrison (Millersburg), the master electrician. Ashland University theatre alumni Justin Bilewicz (2009) and Dusten Welch (2007) round-out the production staff as the costume studio manager and stage combat choreographer, respectively.

Patrons attending the opening night performance are reminded that they are invited to the opening night reception with the cast and crew immediately following the Oct. 11 performance. 

Season tickets for the three theatre productions are still available and include admission to the three main stage productions at a reduced price compared to single tickets. Season tickets 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.  

To purchase tickets, call the Ashland University Box Office at 419-289-5125, Monday through Friday, 12 to 6 p.m.; or purchase online 24/7 at

For more information about the department of theatre, visit, find us on Facebook at or contact Tricia Applegate, coordinator of performing arts publicity and events, at 419-289-5950 or

Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2017, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( deeply 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.                                                                                ###