Arts & Culture Editor
With the fall season starting and in the midst of allocations and budget cuts, Dr. Tony Elliot, Communications professor and Director of Dramatics at Millersville University, declares, “The show must go on.”
The 2014 school year is already anticipated to be a big year for University Theatre. For their fall musical, which they have every other year, Dr. Elliot will be directing “Rent”, which will be running in Clair Performance Hall in the Winter Visual and Performing Arts Center from November 13-16. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, John Larson’s “Rent” follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young bohemian artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. With its rock sound and provocative subject matter, “Rent” is a musical that’s also about falling in love, finding one’s voice and living for the day.
“Most people only know about ‘Rent’ from the film, so we wanted people at Millersville to see a true stage version of it,” says Dr. Elliot. “And it’s still very relevant for today – it’s about these young, urban people testing their independence and trying to figure out who they are.”
“Rent” is also going to be a vast departure from University Theatre’s last musical, fall 2012’s “Pirates of Penzance”. “‘Pirates’ is a very traditional, old-fashioned musical, while ‘Rent’ is a very aggressive and violent rock musical,” says Dr. Elliot. “It’s definitely not your average high school musical.”
Scheduled for the early spring semester is Moliere’s “The Miser”, which has been described as one of the funniest plays in dramatic literature. In “The Miser”, the son and daughter of a miser fall in love and are about to declare their intentions when the miser announces his own wedding plans: he, to the girl with whom his son is in love, and his wealthy friend, to his daughter. However, it is revealed that the rich friend is the long lost father of the boy who loves the miser’s daughter and of the girl who is loved by the miser’s son. “The Miser” will be directed by David Donovan and will be performed in Rafters Theatre in Dutcher Hall on selected dates from February 20 – March 1.
“We like to put on a variety of shows,” says Dr. Elliot. “‘Rent’ is a very contemporary musical, while ‘The Miser’ is a 400-year-old French comedy, and we hope people enjoy it.”
Scheduled for the stage in April is “Bury the Dead”, a 1936 anti-war drama by the American playwright Irwin Shaw. It dramatizes the refusal of six dead soldiers during an unspecified war to be buried. Each rises from the grave to express his anguish, the futility of war, and his refusal to become part of the “glorious past” to the woman who has survived him.
“What’s amazing and powerful about ‘Bury the Dead’ is that it is so timeless,” said Dr. Elliot, who will be directing it. “It could be during World War I, Vietnam, even Iraq.”
Another essential part of theatre at Millersville University are the Citamard Players, a student-run organization that, true to their name (they are “dramatic” spelled backwards, after all), gives students the chance to act, direct, write, manage, design, promote and appreciate theatre. In fact, some members of Citamard also partake in University Theatre productions. Each fall, Citamard performs two nights of short (10-15 minute) plays that are written by students, which gives students an opportunity to start their acting careers. Submissions are due on October 10 and auditions will be held October 20-21. Additionally, at the end of every semester, they host Citamard Night Live, where they perform several stand-up comedy acts, which include special appearances from Millersville’s improv comedy troupe, Improv Molotov. Improv Molotov also hosts about five improv shows a semester with their first show on Sept. 18.
“Students should see Citamard productions because it is a great opportunity to see cheap local theatre done by their peers,” said Meg Danison, president of Citamard. “It’s a great way to support the arts and your friends in the organization. Any one can be a member so we love to see new faces around Dutcher Hall.”
“Theatre has always been a valued activity at Millersville University,” said Dr. Elliot. “We love and appreciate any support we get.”
Auditions for “Rent” will be held September 15-16 in Dutcher Hall, with callbacks September 17-18. Dr. Elliot encourages anyone and everyone to audition. Citamard holds their General meetings the first Wednesday of every month at 9:15pm in the Studio Theatre located inside of Dutcher Hall. Practice schedules are based on the availability of the director and performers.