KU News Release


June 15, 2011
Contact: Charla Jenkins, University Theatre, 785-864-2684

Kansas Summer Theatre to present comic melodrama

More Information

LAWRENCE — This summer, as part of the celebration of the Kansas Sesquicentennial, the Kansas Summer Theatre at the University of Kansas will present “Dirty Work at the Crossroads,” or “Tempted, Tried and True,” a comic melodrama by Bill Johnson. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. July 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9 and 10 at Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St.

KU theatre alumnus and Kansas City-based actor Kip Niven is directing the summer production. Dennis Christilles, associate professor of theatre, is scenic designer; Mark Reaney, professor of theatre, is costume designer; Kristina Banton-DeMaree, a spring 2011 graduate from Olathe, is lighting designer, assisted by Nate Selee, a senior from Garden City; Jakob Wozniak, a senior from Kansas City, Mo., is musical director and pianist; Scott C. Knowles, a doctoral student from St. George, Utah, is the assistant director; and J.T. Nagle, a spring 2011 graduate from Osawatomie, is stage manager.

Based on a melodrama first staged in 1890 and updated by Johnson in 1965, the romantic drama is an old-fashioned story of good versus evil with a beautiful and innocent heroine, a pure hearted hero and an evil villain. It tells the tear-jerking story of Nellie Lovelace, an innocent country girl, Adam Oakhart, the stalwart blacksmith’s son, and Munro Murgatroyd, the villain from the big city. Munro has a wife, but that does not prevent him from pursuing the innocent Nellie and tearing her from the arms of her dying mother, whom he has poisoned. Nor does it prevent him from driving Adam to drink, from blackmailing the rich Mrs. Upton Asterbilt or from bewitching her daughter, Leonie. Add to this colorful mix of characters the antics of a bumbling rustic, Mookie, who has his eye on the Asterbilt’s French maid.

Niven said he is enjoying directing the “terrific cast of some of the theatre department’s most talented students.”

“We’re having a great time working on this very stylized method of acting that was in vogue back at the turn of the last century,” said Niven. “It’s very presentational. Very over-the-top. Very melodramatic. I think the audiences will have a terrific time hissing the villains, laughing at the comic sidekick, weeping along with the heroine and cheering the hero and heroine as justice triumphs over evil. Audience participation during the show is certainly encouraged."

“Dirty Work at the Crossroads” features several musical selections, including “Why Did They Dig Momma’s Grave So Deep,” “That Old Cuckoo Clock That Hangs Upon the Wall,” “All That Glitters Is Not Gold,” “She Is More to Be Pitied Than Censured” and “I Saw Esau.” The audience will also be able to participate in a sing-along of turn-of-the-century music during intermissions.

Niven said presenting the musical over the Independence Day holiday and at Liberty Hall just adds to the production’s charm.

“What a tremendous way for Lawrence families to celebrate the Fourth of July and the Kansas Sesquicentennial right in the heart of downtown Lawrence,” he said. “It’s great for the University Theatre to take its act on the road, all the way to Seventh and Massachusetts. Liberty Hall is the perfect venue for this type of show. Back in the day, Liberty Hall saw shows just like this as they toured the region performing one-night stands in opera houses throughout the Midwest.”

Niven, who graduated from KU in 1968 with a degree in theatre, has had a 40-plus-year career on Broadway, off-Broadway and at regional theaters across the country. He has appeared in more than a dozen feature films, more than 100 television shows and numerous television and radio commercials. For the past 15 seasons, Niven has been a member of the award-winning radio comedy show “Right Between the Ears,” heard locally on Kansas Public Radio. He has worked in nearly every theater in Kanas City, including the New Theatre Restaurant, the Coterie, American Heartland Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Starlight Theatre, Kansas City Actors Theatre and Musical Theatre Heritage. In the next few months, he will be returning to Starlight for this summer’s “Cinderella” and “Xanadu” and to Kansas City Repertory Theatre for the season-opening “August: Osage County.” Niven, the project coordinator for EARTh (Equity Actors’ Readers’ Theatre), has been a University Theatre guest artist three times before: to direct “The Tempest” and “Hair” and to appear in “Translations.”

General admission tickets for “Dirty Work at the Crossroads” are available at the Lied Center box office, 785-864-2787, online at www.kutheatre.com and through Ticketmaster, www.ticketmaster.com. On nights of performances, tickets will only be available at Liberty Hall, beginning one hour before show time. Tickets are $12 for the public, $10 for KU students, faculty and staff and senior citizens and $5 for K-12 students.

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

BARTON COUNTY
From Hoisington 67544
Jackie Koester, spring 2011 graduate in theatre and Spanish; Richard and Pamela Koester; Hoisington High School; Little Nell.

DOUGLAS COUNTY
From Lawrence 66047
Laura Williams, junior in theatre; Brad and Sheila Williams; Lawrence High School; Leonie Asterbilt.

FINNEY COUNTY
From Garden City 67846
Nate Selee, senior in theatre; Scott and Linda Selee; Garden City High School; assistant lighting designer.

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Olathe 66061
Kristina Banton-DeMaree, spring 2011 in theatre design; Andrew and Cheryl Banton; Olathe High School; lighting designer.

From Shawnee 66217
Shannon Buhler, junior in theatre; Paul and Sherry Buhler; Shawnee Mission Northwest High School; Nellie Lovelace.

MIAMI COUNTY
From Osawatomie 66064
J.T. Nagle, spring 2011 graduate in theatre; Bill and Donna Nagle; Paola High School; stage manager.

RENO COUNTY
From Hutchinson 67501
Lynsey Becher, senior in theatre; Pat and Jan Becher; Hutchinson High School; Mrs. Upson Asterbilt.

From Hutchinson 67502
Taylor Geiman, junior in theatre; Lonny Geiman; Hutchinson High School; Adam Oakhart.

Julie Miller, senior in theatre; Don and Marla Miller; Hutchinson High School; the Widow Lovelace.

SHAWNEE COUNTY
From Topeka 66614
Laurie Winkel, junior in theatre; Jeff and Kelly Winkel; Washburn Rural High School; Fleurette.

WYANDOTTE COUNTY
From Kansas City 66109
Alex Roschitz, sophomore in theatre; Sherry Roschitz; Rockhurst High School; Mookie Maguggins.

MISSOURI
From Kansas City 64114
Jakob Wozniak, senior in theatre; John Wozniak and Cheryl Atkinson; Shawnee Mission North High School; musical director and pianist.

OKLAHOMA
From Bixby 74008
Garrett Lawson, spring 2011 graduate in theatre/voice; Robert Lawson and Desiree Jett; Bixby High School; Munro Murgatroyd.

UTAH
From St. George 84790
Scott C. Knowles, doctoral student in theatre studies; Keith and JaNecie Knowles; Pine View High School; bachelor’s degree from Southern Utah University; master’s degree from Florida State University; assistant director.

WASHINGTON
From Seattle 98115
Janet Summerfelt, spring 2011 graduate in theatre; Todd and Jane Summerfelt; Mercer Island High School; Ida Rhinegold.


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