JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

JSU Drama Department
Announces New Season

August 27, 2003 -- The Jacksonville State University Department of Drama will produce six plays including a musical during its 2003-2004 theatre season, which opens on October 9 with a comedy.

George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's 1936 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy You Can 't Take It With You goes on stage in Stone Center, October 9 - 13. The film adaptation won the "Best Picture" Academy Award.

You Can't Take It With You is a visit with one of the most irrepressible families ever created for the stage -- the Sycamores of Manhattan. Headed by Grandpa Vanderhof, who has spent most of his life avoiding the IRS, this extended family is a completely uninhibited clan whose members simultaneously manufacture fireworks in the cellar, distribute left-wing propaganda in home-made candy, take ballet lessons in the living room, operate printing presses and xylophones, and turn out play after play on a typewriter that is delivered by mistake. As Grandpa says, "Why not do what you want to do?...after all - you can't take it with you!"

In addition to the antics of this madly unconventional family group making a lifetime out of playing at sixes and sevens, the play harbors a tender love story: the romance of Alice, the one "normal" member of the Sycamore tribe, and her fiancÚ Tony Kirby, son of a wealthy but very conservative Manhattan banker. When the Kirby family arrives for dinner at the Sycamores a day sooner than expected, the only thing louder than the fireworks exploding and the plates crashing is the laughter that fills the theater.

November brings a relatively new play THE HANDLER by Robert Schenkkan, a poetic, musical story of faith, love, forgiveness and redemption. Its life-affirming message is that love brings healing, love brings forgiveness, love brings faith.

THE STORY: Brother Bob leads the Holiness Way Church of the Living God, one of the many Pentecostal congregations scattered around Appalachia. The doctrine of the Holiness Way Church is based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, most notably the following passage from Mark 16: "And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."

The members of the congregation, in marathon services, work themselves into a musical, spiritual and physical frenzy. As the Holy Ghost enter them, some members speak in unknown languages, others lurch about on the floor, and others handle poisonous snakes that are taken out of pine boxes.

Handler begins as a member of Brother Bob's flock, Geordi, is released from prison. Geordi's wife Terri takes him back into their home, wary of his hard-drinking history and still mourning the loss of their little girl in an accident a few years back. Both in low spirits, Terri and Geordi go to Brother Bob's service where Geordi decides to handle a snake for the first time. The resulting tragedy shakes the congregation to its core, but the miracle that follows a few days later lifts it to heights never before reached. Terri and Brother Bob are thrust into a media circus as news of this miracle spreads.

The spring 2004 semester opens with the department's 30-year anniversary performance February 19 - 22 and 26 - 29 of WEST SIDE STORY by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.

When Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Laurents originally conceived the idea of writing a musical version of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, they planned to call it East Side Story and center it around a star-crossed romance between Jewish boy and an Italian Catholic girl. Because of other commitments, however, they were forced to shelve the project for six years, and by the time they returned to it, they decided that this idea had lost its social relevancy. Instead, they would tell the story of a native-born Polish boy and a Puerto Rican girl newly arrived in America -- and they would set it against the backdrop of clashing street gangs on the city's West side. At this point, Bernstein decided against writing his own lyrics and offered the job to a virtually unknown lyricist named Stephen Sondheim.

West Side Story remains true to its Shakespearean model. Things look good for the young lovers in the beginning, but when Tony --much like Romeo -- accidentally kills his lover's brother while trying to break up a rumble, violence erupts. The musical received rave reviews for its unflinching portrayal of gang life.

April 2004 will feature Alpha Psi Omega's production of TOWARD'S ZERO, an Agatha Christie mystery. The winner of the 2003 Southern Playwright's Competition, WISE WOMEN by Ron Osborne, will go on stage May 20-23.

The main stage season will close with a newly translated play, THE VENETIAN WAY in June, 2004.

The department will also be offering PROOF by David Auburn as part of a Second Stage series. Several other offerings are being considered for the Second Stage series. These will be in addition to the main stage series, and tickets may be purchased at the same time you purchase your season passes, or you may wait until the tickets go on sale to the general public.

Season passes are still available: adults - $34; senior citizens/JSU employees - $29; and students/military personnel - $24. Call 256-782-5648 to purchase with MasterCard, Visa or Discover.

Individual tickets will be processed after the season drive is complete.

Single ticket prices for West Side Story are: adults - $10; senior citizens/JSU employees - $9; and students/military personnel - $8.

All non-musical productions are $6 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and JSU employees, and $4 for students and military personnel.

For more information or to be placed on the drama program's mailing list or to "pre-reserve" your current seating, call 256-782-5648.


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