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March 24, 2006
Contact: Charla Jenkins, University Theatre, (785) 864-2684.

University Theatre to stage plays directed by undergraduate students at KU

LAWRENCE — Two undergraduate theater students at the University of Kansas have been selected to direct productions in the 2006 Student Play Festival, to be presented in April by the Department of Theatre and Film and University Theatre.

“Pippin,” a musical by Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz, directed and choreographed by Eric Avery, Topeka senior, will play at 7:30 p.m. April 6, 7 and 8 and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. April 9. “Stop Kiss” by Diana Son, directed by Rachael Perry, Topeka senior, will be staged at 7:30 p.m. April 13, 14 and 15 and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. April 16. All performances are in the William Inge Memorial Theatre in Murphy Hall.

Leayn Losh, director of vocal activities at Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kan., is music director for “Pippin.” Tim Boeshaar, Mission Hills senior, is scenic and lighting designer and Tiffani Hefley, Norwich senior, is costume designer.

Originally directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse in 1972, “Pippin” ran on Broadway for 1,944 performances, receiving 11 nominations and four Tony Awards.

In the musical, a band of traveling players takes the audience on a journey by telling the story of Pippin, the eldest son of Charlemagne. The young prince, searching for complete fulfillment, sets foot into the outside world. He tries different careers and finally decides he has no hope in achieving complete fulfillment. Pippin is then picked up off the street by an ordinary woman who charms him with her small son and large estate. But thinking that love isn’t complete fulfillment, he leaves her. With nothing else to try, there is only one thing left — the finale.

Avery said his production will have a heavy emphasis on movement and dance and will include some surprises.

“Even though many people are semifamiliar with ‘Pippin,’ I would rather not just refresh their memories,” Avery said. “I want the audience to be right there with the actors — in the moment.”

“Stop Kiss,” which enjoyed a successful 1998-99 run at New York’s Joseph Papp Public Theatre, is set in New York City in the present. It is a poignant and funny play about the ways, both sudden and slow, that lives can change irrevocably.

When Callie meets Sara, the two unexpectedly fall in love. Their first kiss provokes a violent attack that transforms their lives in a way they could never anticipate.

The playwright breaks the story midway, before the kiss and after, and runs the two halves together so it seems like two plays running concurrently: a sweet comedy about courtship and a drama about hate crime.

Perry said her production’s themes are thought-provoking.

“It’s a lesbian play, but it’s not avant-garde, radical or angry,” she said. “The real focus is on separating label from identity and finding the strength to give in to love.”

Working with Perry on “Stop Kiss” is Boeshaar, scenic and lighting designer, and Jessica Freeman, Shawnee junior, costume designer.

General admission tickets for the two plays are on sale in the KU ticket offices: University Theatre, 864-3982; Lied Center, 864-ARTS; and online at kutheatre.com. Tickets are $12 for the public, $10 for students and $11 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff. Both VISA and Mastercard are accepted for phone and online orders.

Students in the cast and other production roles are listed below by name, class, major, parents’ names, high school, show and role.

DICKINSON COUNTY
From Chapman
Kelsie Clark, junior theater and film major, daughter of Jim and Debby Clark; Chapman High School; “Pippin,” Catherine and Fastrada.

DOUGLAS COUNTY
From Lawrence
Pearson Skepnek, junior history major, son of Bill and Susan Skepnek; Lawrence Free State High School; “Stop Kiss,” Peter.

Christopher Trepinski, freshman theater and voice major, son of Robert and Celeste Trepinski; Lawrence Free State High School; “Pippin,” Baron and Noble.

JEWELL COUNTY
From Mankato
Jenna Bleecker, sophomore theater major, daughter of John and Jeanne Bleecker; Mankato Senior High School; “Pippin,” Courier and Field Marshal.

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Leawood
Courtney Schweitzer, junior theater and Spanish major, daughter of Ken and Linda Schweitzer; Blue Valley High School; “Stop Kiss,” Sara.

From Lenexa
Brandon Ford, junior theater major, son of Victor and Shelly Walker; Olathe East High School; “Stop Kiss,” George.

From Mission Hills
Tim Boeshaar, senior art major, son of Richard and Emily Boeshaar; The Pembroke Hill School, Kansas City, Mo.; scenic and lighting designer for “Pippin” and “Stop Kiss.”

From Overland Park
Alex Haynes, sophomore theater and psychology major; son of Martin Haynes and Patricia Thomas; Blue Valley Northwest High School; “Pippin,” Theo and Beggar.

From Shawnee
Jessica Freeman, junior in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, daughter of Nancy Freeman; Washburn Rural High School, Topeka; “Stop Kiss,” costume designer.

Niccole Thurman, senior theater major, daughter of Amy Thurman; Shawnee Mission North High School; “Stop Kiss,” Callie.

KINGMAN COUNTY
From Norwich
Tiffani Hefley, senior theater design major, daughter of Daryl and Sandra Hefley; Norwich High School; “Pippin,” costume designer.

RILEY COUNTY
From Manhattan
Blake E. Bolan, senior theater major, daughter of Wendy Adams and Jeb Bolan; Manhattan High School; “Stop Kiss,” Mrs. Winsley.

SALINE COUNTY
From Salina
Ricky House, freshman theater major, son of Ray House and Linda Lawrence; Salina Central High School; “Pippin,” Lewis and Head.

Lauren R. Marshall, senior theater and voice major, daughter of Eric and Barbara Marshall; Salina South High School; “Pippin,” Leading Player.

SHAWNEE COUNTY
From Topeka
Eric Avery, senior theater major, son of Mary Ann Avery and John and Vivian Avery; Highland Park High School; “Pippin,” director.

Adam R. Burnett, sophomore theater major, son of Russell Burnett and Vicki Fulmer; Topeka High School; “Pippin,” Pippin.

Brandon E. Durkes, freshman film major, son of Kevin and Michelle Durkes; Topeka High School, “Pippin,” Charles and Berthe.

Hadley Galbraith, sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, daughter of Marc and Kay Galbraith; Topeka High School; “Stop Kiss,” Nurse.

Rachael Perry, senior Spanish and theater major, daughter of John and Jennifer Perry; Hayden High School; “Stop Kiss,” director.

ILLINOIS
From Downers Grove
Meg Saricks, junior theater and communications major, daughter of Chris and Joyce Saricks; Downers Grove South High School; “Pippin,” Giselle and Female Courtier.

From Hoffman Estates
Jordan Bond Harper, freshman theater and film major, daughter of Steve and Becky Harper; St. Viator High School, Arlington Heights, Ill.; “Pippin,” Duck and Peasant.

MAINE
From Falmouth
Carter Royce Waite, junior theater and film major; son of DeDe Waite and David Waite; Falmouth High School; “Stop Kiss,” Detective Cole.

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