KU News Release

Feb. 17, 2011
Contact: Charla Jenkins, University Theatre, 785-864-2684

University Theatre to stage modern version of comedy ‘The Beaux’ Strategem’

More Information

LAWRENCE — University Theatre at the University of Kansas will stage George Farquhar’s Restoration comedy “The Beaux’ Stratagem,” adapted by Thornton Wilder and Ken Ludwig. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24-26 and March 4-5 and at 2:30 p.m. March 6 in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre. A free matinee for Kansas high schools is set for at 1 p.m. March 3.

Directed and choreographed by John Staniunas, associate professor of theatre, the play features musical direction by Ryan McCall, University Theatre accompanist, who composed seven original songs for the score for the production. Scenic and costume design is by Delores Ringer, associate professor of theatre; lighting design is by Kristina Banton, a senior from Olathe; and hair and wig design is by Jim Grimes of Headmasters of Lawrence.

Staniunas is returning to his relationship with the Farquhar comedy after more than 30 years. When he was a freshman theater major at the University of Arizona, he landed his first major role playing Sir Charles Freeman in a production of ‘The Beaux.’

Farquhar, whose life was cut short in 1707 at age 30, began writing the play during his final illness. Many years later, a more modern version was begun, first by the great American playwright Wilder, who wrote “Our Town,” and completed more recently by the currently popular American playwright Ludwig, who wrote such hits as “Lend me a Tenor.”

“Our desire in designing the production was to stay true to the original play, but to marry that play with the traditions of modern theater,” Staniunas said. “We like to use the phrase ‘Rock and roll meets Rococo,’ when describing the style of what we are presenting.”

Staniunas says he continues to marvel at Farquhar’s “witty characters and intricate plots, his insight into human nature and his splendid sense of comedy and timing. The newer version is an adaptation of an adaptation of a great work of English literature, brought to life with crisp new dialogue.”

In the play, two young gentlemen find their money spent so their only alternative is to marry money or to sell their swords for the wars. Down to their last 200 pounds, they conceive a shrewd plan where one plays the fine lord, the other his servant as they travel through small towns to entrap young heiresses, steal their money and move on. The winner will then split half of his share with the other.

In Lichfield, in the English countryside, they learn that Lady Bountiful, a local healer, has a beautiful daughter, Dorinda, with a large dowry. They set their sights on Dorinda, but Aimwell falls truly in love, and madcap comedy ensues.

Staniunas said the audience will experience an “experiment” he is undertaking with the show.

“It was not uncommon for Restoration plays to have songs interlaid into the action of the production. We have begun what may be a long journey in finding a way to ‘musicalize’ this text in what may eventually be a full-fledged musical theatre version of the play.”

The director and McCall have worked closely together to retain the original intent of the text, but to bring to life the emotions and witticisms of the characters’ journeys through song.

Reserved seat tickets for “The Beaux’ Stratagem” are on sale in the KU ticket offices: University Theatre, 864-3982, and Lied Center, 864-ARTS, and online at kutheatre.com. Tickets are $18 for the public, $10 for students and $17 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff. All major credit cards are accepted for phone and online orders.

Members of the cast for the KU comedy production are listed below by hometown, class and major, parents’ names, high school and role.

From Baxter Springs 66713
Nick Kellum, freshman, theatre/voice major, son of Bert and Lori Kellum, Baxter Springs High School, Sir Charles Freeman.

From Dodge City 67801
Tarek Shaath, senior, microbiology and pre-medicine majors, son of Samir and Nahed Shaath, Dodge City High School, Hounslow.

From Leawood 66206
Ian Schoeck, sophomore, chemical engineering major, son of Robert and Nancy Schoeck, Rockhurst High School, Daniel.

From Lenexa 66215
Justin Thornbrugh, freshman, undecided major, son of Darrell and Christina Thornbrugh, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Servant.

From Merriam 66202
Ryan Harvey, freshman, broadcast journalism, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Harvey, Shawnee Mission North High School, Boniface.

From Merriam 67203
Austin Robinson, senior, Spanish and theatre majors, son of James Robinson and Sharon Riley, Shawnee Mission North High School, Tom Aimwell.

From Olathe 66061
Kristina Banton, senior, theatre major, daughter of Andrew and Cheryl Banton, Olathe High School, lighting designer.

From Overland Park 66212
Margaret Hanzlick, sophomore, theatre and sociology majors, daughter of Janee and David Hanzlick, Shawnee Mission South High School, Dorinda.

From Shawnee 66217
Tim Wilkinson, freshman, theatre major, son of Bruce and Lauren Wilkinson, Shawnee Mission West High School, Servant.

From Hutchinson 67501
Lynsey Becher, junior, theatre major, daughter of Patrick and Jan Becher, Hutchinson High School, Lady Bountiful.

From Hutchinson 67502
Taylor Geiman, sophomore, theatre major, son of Lonny and Audry Geiman, Hutchinson High School, Jack Archer.

From Topeka 66604
Jennifer Walker, junior, theatre and dance major, daughter of John and Laurie Walker, Topeka High School, Bagshot.

From Topeka 66614
Laurie Winkel, sophomore, theatre major, daughter of Jeff and Kelly Winkel, Washburn Rural High School, Cherry.

From Kansas City 66109
Alex Roschitz, sophomore, theatre major, son of Sherry Roschitz, Rockhurst High School, Scrub.

From Neola 51559
Troy Clifford Dargin, doctoral student, speech pathology major, son of Dennis Dargin and Cathy Eckmann, Tri-Center High School, Sullen.

From Kirkwood 63122
Festus Wade Shaughnessy IV, junior, English major, son of Festus and Mary Clair Shaughnessy, Kirkwood Senior High School, Gloss.

From St. Louis 63141
Mary McNulty, senior, theatre/voice major, daughter of Patrick and Tina McNulty, St. Joseph’s Academy, Mrs. Kate Sullen.

From Lincoln 68502
Sam Voelker, freshman, journalism major, son of Robert and Patricia Voelker, Lincoln Southeast High School, A Lady and Foigard.

From Lincoln 68504
Anna May Smith, senior, theatre major, daughter of Mary and Dale Smith, Lincoln Northeast High School, A Country Woman.

From Brookings 57006
Rachel R. Sorrels, junior, theatre major, daughter of Roland and Susan Goens, Brookings High School, Servant.

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