Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Student Spotlight on Abby Okoneski and Regan O'Connor!


The MSU Spring Dance Concert is approaching fast and furious, but we had just enough time to stop and ask two veterans of the Dance department to talk about their excitement and process for the upcoming concert!

Abby Okoneski Junior Dance BFA
Q: Out of all of the dance pieces you are in, which one are YOU most excited to perform?

A: I am really looking forward to Reuben del Valle's hip hop piece because it is something that no one has seen our department do before, which I think is really exciting.

Q: What has been the most rewarding part about bringing these dance pieces to life?

A: The most rewarding part has been the time we have put into it. Every dancer and choreographer has been working extremely hard since the beginning of the semester, and it's always rewarding to see where we start and where we finish each semester. For me, personally, the overall "big picture" is the most rewarding. 

Q: What is something you hope the audience can take away from this particular concert?

A: I hope the audience gets a glimpse of all the different styles we can do. Our concerts tend to be more modern heavy, but I think this concert is all over the board with styles. I hope the audience can appreciate all the different styles we put on stage.

Regan O'Connor, Senior Dance BFA
Q: Out of all of the dance pieces you are in, which one are YOU most excited to perform? 

A: Honestly, I'm excited about all of them. Each of them is challenging in their own way. Julie Kerr-Berry's has lots of dynamic shifts and emotions. Ruben's has a completely different style that I'm not used to, and it's theatrical, which is really fun to explore. Melissa Rosenberger's requires a different energy. We've already done it, so it is up to us as dancers to find something new within it. 

Q: What has been the most rewarding part about bringing these dance pieces to life?

A: The most rewarding part for me personally is the fact that it's my last one. I feel like this is the concert where I can show how much I've grown as an artist with the people who have become my family (cheesy, I know, but true!). As a whole, our department has worked so hard, and this concert really showcases everyone in a positive light, and that's really cool to be apart of. 

Q: What is something you hope the audience can take away from this particular concert?

A: To be honest, I don't know what I want the audience to feel. I just want them to sit, relax, enjoy and break away from the outside world. Dance is a way to escape, and each piece requires us to go to a different time, space and style. And hopefully the audience will escape with us.

Come see these fabulous dancers along with many more beside them for the Spring Dance Concert! 
Performances are on Friday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m., along with a student dance showcase on Sunday, April 29, at 2 p.m.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Kiddie Tour takes on the Big Apple!

Every year, as a wonderful treat at the end of our traveling children's theatre tour, our cast gets a trip to New York City over spring break to be inspired by Broadway shows! Last week, our wonderful Kiddie Tour cast of "The Bluebird's Secret" had a blast seeing shows on Broadway! 

What shows did they see? And which were there favorites? 

Well we asked some of the cast members themselves! 

The top show that students loved the most was one of Broadway's biggest hits, currently: "Once on This Island."

Musical Directed by Michael Arden, Music and lyrics by Flahrety and Ahrens
About the show: Ti Moune, a peasant girl, rescues a wealthy boy from the other side of the island, Daniel, with whom she falls in love. Unbeknownst to Ti Moune, the pompous gods who preside over the island make a bet with one another over which is stronger, love or death, the stakes being Ti Moune's life. When she pursues Daniel, who has returned to his people, Ti Moune is shunned because of her lowly status. Her determination and capacity to love, though, is not enough to win Daniel's heart, and Ti Moune pays the ultimate price; but the gods turn Ti Moune into a tree that grows so strong and so tall, it breaks the wall that separates the societies and ultimately unites them.

Calli Medley, Ben Siglin, Lydia Prior and Kacie Riddle at "Once On This Island" on Broadway!

Calli Medley: My favorite show I saw was definitely "Once On This Island." From the moment the music started playing, I remembered how powerful the show was and had to stop myself from crying during the entire thing. The actors were amazing, the music was powerful, the set and the way they use the space was brilliant and beautiful. All of these elements combined with the theatre in-the-round experience made it one I will never forget.

Kacie Riddle: "Once On This Island" was the highlight show for me. The costumes, music, set and story were absolutely breathtaking, and it was unlike any other show I've ever seen.

Arianna Rotty: Once On This Island was my favorite show because of the modern twist. I also loved the cast because their voices were SPECTACULAR!

Congrats to the cast of The Bluebird's Secret on a great tour and an eventful trip to New York City! 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Student Spotlight

Spotlight on The Bluebird!

This past week, the cast of The Bluebird's Secret wrapped up their traveling tour and are headed to NYC Monday morning. Starting in early January, the cast performed for over 8,000 kids all over the southern Minnesota area. Before the cast heads of to the big apple for the week we caught up with the little bluebird herself, Kacie Riddle to talk about her Kiddie Tour experience!

Q:What was the most interest part about playing the bluebird?
A: The best part about playing the bluebird was being able to share her secret with everyone! And being able to wear amazing wings designed by Cam Pederson (Junior B.F.A. Musical Theatre Candidate).
Q: What was the best part about the overall Kiddie Tour Experience?
A:The best part about Kiddie Tour was performing for all different groups of kids. It was so fun to see their faces light up with laughter and its fun to form little friendships with some of them during the Q &A after.
Q: What was your favorite song from the show?
A: My favorite song in the show is definitely Patty Patience's song "Chill". Even though I'm not onstage during that number, I always am singing along backstage!

Best of luck to Kacie and the rest of the cast of The Bluebirds Secret as they celebrate the closing of their show and explore the big apple for one whole week!

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Bluebird has spilled her secret

After "flying" all over southern Minnesota and even up to the Metro, our traveling children's theatre tour is coming home this week for good. Spring Break, beginning Saturday, marks the end of "The Bluebird's Secret," a children's musical written by Billy Gleason, with music by John Nicol, about a group of explorers trying to capture a Bluebird, so she'll tell them the secret to happiness. Bluebird's pal the Penguin accompanies her along her way, all the while struggling with his own plight: lack of flight.

The group has two more days of performing, so we don't want to spill the secret to happiness ... NO SPOILERS! ... but we will say that the power of friendship and teamwork does a lot of good things in this world!

We hope the thousands of children who got to see our show enjoyed it! If we didn't come to your school this year, our next tour kicks off in January 2019. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

We've come to hear new music

                It was the music of the second week beginning!

The second week of "Ragtime" starts tomorrow! After the excitement of opening weekend we caught up with a few of our actors from the show for a short interview!

Gary DuCharme (Tateh) and Emily Swenson (Little Girl)

I promised you America...

Gary Scott Du Charme II (Senior BFA) who plays the character of Tateh:

Q: What has been your favorite part about the "Ragtime" process?
A: My favorite part about the "Ragtime" process has been working with a child actor (Emily Swenson). It's interesting working with my peers, but working on a project like this with a young child with a completely different background, experience and instincts has been very unique. The one on one time with Dr. H (Director Paul J. Hustoles), Emily and myself has been something completely different from anything I've done at MSU.

Q: What is something you want people to take from this show?
A: What I hope people take away is the idea of acceptance. Acceptance of race, nationality, monetary or social status. Regardless of these things, we're all looking for acceptance. That's something that people should take home with them.

Cam Pederson (Harry Houdini)

If you're trapped...and failure seems immminent...Think of Houdini! 

Cam Pederson (Junior BFA) who plays the role of Harry Houdini:

Q: What has been your favorite part about being in "Ragtime"?
A: I have never had the chance to play a historical figure in my career, so honestly the research prior to the rehearsals was so interesting to think about how to incorporate into the various Houdini sightings in the show. It's one thing to escape from the heavy chain harness and look cool, but then to actually think about why Houdini did escape from dangerous devices, it adds an extra treat for the audience.

Q: What is something you want people to take away from this show?
A: This story is a snapshot of a past era, but that doesn't mean that its themes aren't relevant today. We still have racial tension, we do still have a "godlike" corporate America, and we do still have the famous celebrities that distract us from the real issues. Whether it's performers on vaudeville or 21st century reality TV, this show is so relevant.

Ashley Ziegler (Mother) and Gabe Sell (Father)
We can never go back to before...

Ashley Ziegler (Senior BFA) who plays the role of Mother.

Q: What has been your favorite part?
A: My favorite part has been collaborating with people outside of the theatre department in order to tell this important story.

Q: What is something you want people to take away from this show?
A: I want this show to strike a conversation for everyone that sees it. (Of course, I also want them to walk away singing the baseball song). We have the ability to inspire. That, in turn, rallies a hope for change in the America we live in today.

Mitchell Evans (Coalhouse Walker Jr.) and Jessica Staples (Sarah)
Justice, Sarah, this is America...

Mitchell Evans (Junior BFA) who plays the role of Coalhouse Walker Jr.

Q: What has been your favorite part of the "Ragtime" process?
A: What's really funny is that I've been singing "Wheels of a Dream" and "Make Them Hear You" (two iconic songs from the show) for over a year now. Whether that be in classes or theatre competitions. What has been my favorite part is getting the chance to revisit these songs in an actual production. It's so fun as an artist to get to revisit pieces that resonate with you and getting to work with them in a new way!

Q: What is something you want people to take away from this show?
A: To feel empathy for these characters and their stories; that's why we tell stories like this. So then an audience can realize what life was like for all the different characters in this show, not just Coalhouse's, but the rest of the African-Americans and the immigrants and even the wealthy New Rochelle characters. Hopefully they rethink a prejudice they might have had before seeing this show.

There are still 5 chances left to see "Ragtime"! Performances begin at 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, as well as 2:00 pm for the two matinees this Saturday and Sunday. Get your tickets at MSUTheatre.com!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Actors discuss '1984' characters, themes

                                              The Watchful Big-Brother

With last night's excitement of opening night in the air and the preparation just beginning within the "black box" Andreas Theatre, "Behind the Curtain" caught up with two of our leading actors of MSU's Mainstage production of "1984." 

We asked Junior BFA actor Billy Gleason and MFA actor Doni Marinos about their characters, the production and what a typical opening night for MSU entails!

Q: What character are you playing and what is the most interesting thing about the character?
Billy: I play Winston Smith, a disgruntled worker who is a member of the outer party. Winston is interesting because of his interest in the truth.
Doni: I play O'Brien. What's interesting about him is that no one knows whose side he's really on until the final act of the play.

Q:What is your favorite part about opening night for an MSU production?
Billy: Opening night at MSU is always full of exhilarating and nervous energy. Nothing beats running to the dressing rooms and high-fiving the cast after a good show!
Doni: The energy of the cast is always amazing. In each show we work our hardest for months to create a piece of theatre that will live with our audience for the rest of their lives.

Q: What is something that you want the audience to be able to take away from the show?
Billy: I want people to walk away from this show thinking about how they consume information, and where that information comes from. "Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past."
Doni: I want people to consider that there are some startling similarities. That they begin to observe the world around them in a different way and feel a want and need to be apart of changing it for the better.
Doni Marinos (M.F.A.)
The excitement of performances have already begun! "1984" runs nightly from through Feb. 11th at 7:30 p.m. in the Andreas Theatre of the Performing Arts Center, Minnesota State University, Mankato. For more information and to buy tickets, visit MSUTheatre.com or visit our Box Office in the lobby of the PAC 4-6 p.m. weekdays and one hour before each show.

Billy Gleason ( Junior B.F.A.)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Our Spring Season is full of bold and timely storytelling and themes

Spring semester is here already! And our theatres never sleep. 

Already THIS WEEK we're opening our first Mainstage show of the semester, "1984," and its themes couldn't be more timely. As the chair of the department, Paul J. Hustoles, has said ... the voters spoke at the last presidential election, and now it's the artists' turn to speak. We hope you all can join us to delve into George Orwell's timeless lessons and warnings of "1984" and examine them through the lens of our current administration and social and political climate. 

Below you will find the details on the rest of the season this spring, which features much lighter fare like "Bye Bye Birdie" and another timely and powerful musical, "Ragtime," which we open mid-February.

We'll see you at the show! 


(From time period 1968-1993)
By George Orwell; adapted for the stage by Michael Gene Sullivan
Feb. 1-4 & 7-11, 2018

Andreas Theatre

Detailed schedule here.
Based on the iconic novel by George Orwell, 1984 brings us the story of Winston Smith, a cog in the giant machine state of Oceania.  Physically and mentally under the omnipresent eye of Big Brother, Winston has been caught struggling for scraps of love and freedom in a world awash with distrust and violence.  With the brutal "help" of four Party Members, Winston is forced to confess his Thoughtcrimes before an unseen inquisitor, and the audience – which acts as a silent witness to his torture.  A ferocious and provocative adaptation of one of the most prescient works of literature of the last century.
Tickets: $16 regular, $14 discounted (over 65, under 16 and groups of 15 or more) and $11 for current Minnesota State Mankato students.

Ragtime (the musical)

(From time period 1893-1918)
Music by Stephen Flaherty; lyrics by Lynn Ahrens; book by Terrence McNally; based on the novel “Ragtime,” by E.L. Doctorow
Feb. 15-17 & 22-25, 2018

Ted Paul Theatre

Detailed schedule here.
At the dawn of a new century, everything is changing ... and anything is possible.  Set in the volatile melting pot of turn-of-the-century New York, three distinctly American tales are woven together – that of a stifled upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant and a daring young Harlem musician – united by their courage, compassion and belief in the promise of the future. Together, they confront history's timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair ... and what it means to live in America.
Tickets: $22 regular, $19 discounted (over 65, under 16 and groups of 15 or more) and $15 for current Minnesota State Mankato students.

Bye Bye Birdie (the musical)

(From time period 1943-1968)
Music by Charles Strouse; lyrics by Lee Adams; book by Michael Stewart; originally produced by Edward Padula
April 5-7 & 12-15, 2018

Ted Paul Theatre

Co-sponsored by Community Bank, Jones & Magnus and Tailwind Group
Detailed schedule here.
It is 1960, and a chorus of young girls energetically sings the praises of rock & roll idol Conrad Birdie.  At Almelou Music Corp. in New York, Conrad’s managers, Albert Peterson and Rosie Alvarez (who’ve been dating for years), learn that their client has been inducted into the Army. Though she’d prefer that Albert settle down and become “An English Teacher,” Rosie concocts a plan: as a publicity stunt, Conrad will bid a typical American teen-age girl goodbye with a public farewell kiss. Rosie randomly selects the name of the lucky girl: 15-year-old Kim McAfee of Sweet Apple, Ohio.
Tickets: $22 regular, $19 discounted (over 65, under 16 and groups of 15 or more) and $15 for current Minnesota State Mankato students.

Studio Season

Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them

By Christopher Durang
Sept. 13-16, 2017

Andreas Theatre

Detailed schedule here.
The play tells the story of a young woman suddenly in crisis: Is her new husband, whom she married when drunk, a terrorist? Or just crazy? Or both? Is her father's hobby of butterfly collecting really a cover for his involvement in a shadow government? Why does her mother enjoy going to the theatre so much? Does she seek mental escape, or is she insane? Honing in on our private terrors both at home and abroad, Durang oddly relieves our fears in this black comedy for an era of yellow, orange and red alerts.
Tickets: $10 regular, $9 discounted (over 65, under 16 and groups of 15 or more) and $8 for current Minnesota State Mankato students.

These Shining Lives

By Melanie Marnich
Nov. 15-18, 2017

Andreas Theatre

Detailed schedule here.
These Shining Lives chronicles the strength and determination of women considered expendable in their day, exploring their true story and its continued resonance. Catherine and her friends are dying, it's true; but theirs is a story of survival in its most transcendent sense, as they refuse to allow the company that stole their health to kill their spirits—or endanger the lives of those who come after them.
Tickets: $10 regular, $9 discounted (over 65, under 16 and groups of 15 or more) and $8 for current Minnesota State Mankato students.

Talley's Folly

By Lanford Wilson
March 28-31, 2018

Andreas Theatre

Detailed schedule here.
The scene is the ornate, deserted Victorian boathouse on the Talley place in Lebanon, Missouri; the time 1944. Matt Friedman, an accountant from St. Louis, has arrived to plead his love to Sally Talley, the susceptible but uncertain daughter of the family. Bookish, erudite, totally honest, and delightfully funny, Matt refuses to accept Sally's rebuffs and her fears that her family would never approve of their marriage. Charming and indomitable, he gradually overcomes her defenses, telling his innermost secrets to his loved one and, in return, learning hers as well. Gradually he awakens Sally to the possibilities of a life together until, in the final, touching moments of the play, it is clear that they are two kindred spirits who have truly found each other—two "lame ducks" who, in their union, will find a wholeness rare in human relationships.
Tickets: $10 regular, $9 discounted (over 65, under 16 and groups of 15 or more) and $8 for current Minnesota State Mankato students.

Melancholy Play

By Sarah Ruhl
April 18-21, 2018

Andreas Theatre

Detailed schedule here.
Tilly’s melancholy is of an exquisite quality. She turns her melancholy into a sexy thing, and every stranger she meets falls in love with her. One day, inexplicably, Tilly becomes happy, and wreaks havoc on the lives of her paramours.
Tickets: $10 regular, $9 discounted (over 65, under 16 and groups of 15 or more) and $8 for current Minnesota State Mankato students.

Dance Concerts

Fall Dance Concert

7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1
2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2
Student Dance Showcase: 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3
Tickets: $10 regular, $9 discounted (over 65, under 16 and groups of 15 or more) and $8 for current Minnesota State Mankato students.

Spring Dance Concert

7:30 p.m. Friday, April 27, 2018
2 p.m. Saturday, April 28, 2018
Student Dance Showcase: 2 p.m. Sunday, April 29, 2018
Tickets: $10 regular, $9 discounted (over 65, under 16 and groups of 15 or more) and $8 for current Minnesota State Mankato students.