Wednesday, November 16, 2016

There Will Be Blood: Carrie the Musical Opens TONIGHT!

Pig's Blood, Telekinesis and Prom.

Hear these three words and it can only mean one thing... Carrie the Musical.
Carrie (Amanda Mai) has her iconic moment at Prom.

After weeks of hard work and preparation, Carrie the Musical will celebrate its opening tonight in the Andreas Theatre! Directed by 3rd Year MFA Musical Theatre Candidate Erin Horst, this production features the talents of many seasoned MSU Performers. Combine those talents with brilliant direction and you're sure to be in for a terrifying treat!
At school, Carrie (Amanda Mai, center) is ridiculed by her peers, who are, from left, Sue Snell (Michaela Shapiro), Tommy Ross (Daniel PaulJohn Lane), Chris Hargensen (Emily Scinto) and Billy Nolan (Matthew Sather).

Carrie will run Nov. 16-19 in the Andreas and will even include two special MIDNIGHT matinees Friday and Saturday Nights. Tickets at or by calling 507-389-6661. Get your seats now, you won't want to miss this!
Carrie (Amanda Mai, center) sings the title song "Carrie", surrounded by her classmates.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Get Thee To The Henrys!

After a smashing opening weekend, The Two Henrys will re-open tonight!

As this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, director Dr. Paul J. Hustoles knew he wanted to create something spectacular in order to pay tribute. His result? An exciting and fascinating adaptation of Shakespeare's history plays, "The Two Henrys."

Combining Henry IV Part 1 & 2 with Henry V, this show takes its audience on an intense theatrical journey! Complete with a multitude of crowns, sword fights and tights, this show is sure to dazzle! The show will continue to play Nov.10-13 in the Ted Paul Theatre. Tickets may be purchased at or by calling the box office at (507) 389-6661.

Be sure to check out some photos from the production below! (Costumes by David McCarl)

King Henry IV (Doni Marinos) gives his sage wisdom to his ne’re-do-well son, Prince Hal (Gary Du Charme II), in The Two Henrys.

Sir John Falstaff (Gabriel Sell) amuses the Prince Hal (Gary Du Charme II) at a London tavern.

King Henry V (Gary Du Charme II) proposes marriage to Princess Katherine of France (Samantha Fairchild)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Spotlight On: Amanda Mai

It's time to get to know your MSU Performers!

Throughout the remainder of the year, we'll be spending time getting to know performers in both the Theatre and Dance Departments! You'll hear about how they got their start in their field, what projects they're working on and more! To kick us off, we sat down with seasoned Musical Theatre Major, Amanda Mai!! You may recognize her for playing roles such as Ariel in Footloose, Mayzie LaBird in Seussical and most recently, Estelle in The Full Monty. Read on to find our more about this talented girl! 

Name: Amanda Mai
Hometown: Beaver Dam, WI
Year/Major: Senior, Musical Theatre

How did you get your start in theatre? My hometown has a great children's theatre program, so I started doing shows there every summer around the age of 8. From there I fell in love with it, so I've been doing it ever since!
Amanda as Ariel in Footloose

What's your favorite thing about theatre? Telling stories and making audiences feel something. If I get to make somebody either laugh or cry, it's a good day.  Bonus points for both.
Amanda (Gold) in Xanadu

Favorite MSU Theatre Memory: I loved playing the role of Calliope in Xanadu. I just got to be silly and it was a lot of fun.  I don't like to talk about the rollerskating though...

Current Role: Carrie in Carrie!

What's your favorite part about playing this role?  My favorite part is trying to figure out her complex and unconventional relationships with the other characters, specifically her mom! I also love working with this amazing team of artists; every person involved in this show is fantastic. 

Plans After Graduation: Right now I am planning to do a lot of auditions next semester and I'll just see where that takes me!

Advice For Aspiring Performers? Own yourself.  Don't try to be the next Sutton Foster. There was no Sutton Foster before her and there will not be another after her. All you can do is be the best version of yourself and in reality, THAT is what will bring you success. 

We loved getting to know Amanda and we hope you did too! Stay tuned to hear more from your other favorite performers! 
Amanda as Mayzie in Seussical

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Frankenstein Opens TOMORROW!

In true MSU Theatre fashion, the closing of one show brings the opening of another...While The Full Monty was warming up the mainstage for the year, another show and cast/crew of brilliant performers was prepping for their opening night.

Lead by director Heather Hamilton, MSU's all female production of Frankenstein will hit the Andreas Theatre stage beginning tomorrow! The show runs October 13th-16th and will re-open the following weekend with performances on the 19th-23rd. Visit for tickets or give the box office a call at (507) 389-6661.

Check out some photos and a description of the production below! You won't want to miss this one!

Harking back to the original concept of Frankenstein, this version amplifies the film's suspenseful horror and adds greater depth of character and motivation as well as a new and different love story. All of the eagerly anticipated elements are here: the stone walled laboratory, the crazed scientist, angry villagers, a swooning heroine, a fearful storm and the hideous yet pathetic, deadly creature with its confused mind and powerful, undisciplined body. 

Alyssa Johnson is Dr. Victor Frankenstein

Gorgo (Martha Juliana Cubillos, left) and Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Alyssa Johnson) react to their creatures awakening.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Moons Over Mankato - The Full Monty Opens TONIGHT!

MSU's cast of The Full Monty has been hard at work for weeks getting ready for their big Opening Night - and it's finally here! The show opens tonight on the Ted Paul Stage and runs Sept. 29-Oct. 1 & Oct. 6-9!

Recommended for mature audiences only, The Full Monty follows a group of unemployed steelworkers who decide they want to change their luck and shake what the Good Lord gave them for some cash. Get your tickets to this hilarious show by visiting or calling the box office at (507) 389-6661.

And if you're still not convinced, check out some photos from the rehearsal process and more below! This show definitely isn't one you'll want to miss!!

Directed by: Paul Hustoles
Scenic Design by: John Paul
Lighting Design by: Steve Smith
Costume Design by: David McCarl 
The Boys of The Full Monty get ready to "Let It Go"(L-R: Gabe Sell, Mitchell Evans, Matthew Sather, Andrew Anderson, Daniel PaulJohn Lane and Mack Spotts-Falzone) 
Jerry (Matthew Sather) tells Malcolm (Daniel PaulJohn Lane, middle)
that a great way to end his life is with a "Big Ass Rock", while Dave (played by Gabe Sell), lends his support.

Early on in the process, the men rehearse the Opening Number "Scrap"

Erin Horst (center) rehearses her number "It's A Woman's World" with the Ensemble Ladies

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Students on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: A Week with David Yazbek

If you happened to walk through the Earley Center for the Performing Arts within in the last four days, you were sure to have seen Theatre Majors and Music Majors alike in a flurry of excitement, wonder and nerves. But above all, you'd hear mention of one very important name - David Yazbek.

During this past week, MNSU's Department of Theatre & Dance has been honored to have played host to Two-Time Tony Nominated Composer/Lyricist, David Yazbek. Among his most popular works are Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and The Full Monty (which happens to be the first show in MNSU's 2016-2017 Mainstage Season!) 

Throughout his residency, Yazbek was kind enough to hold a series of workshops and Master classes for students. Beginning Thursday afternoon, he held a Pop and Rock and Jazz Master class for musicians and composers and a Songwriting Master class for composers and lyricists. That evening, Yazbek spent time working with the Orchestra Members of MSU's production of The Full Monty. Here he gave advice, worked through problem spots, and gave input on what he heard (No surprise, he LOVED it!)

Nick Wayne (Music Director/Conductor) and David Yazbek work through the score!
Friday was spent in a series of Q&A sessions. The first, titled Making a Broadway Musical, was a discussion about all aspects of mounting a major musical. With his multitude of experience, it was fascinating for students to hear what he said to say! Following that, he held an open Q&A session where students could ask whatever they pleased! Yazbek, being the kind and open man that he is, was thrilled to answer anything that came his way, which was absolutely wonderful for the students!

That evening, the cast of MSU's The Full Monty was elated (and maybe a bit nervous) to have David Yazbek join them for a sing-through of the show! Much like his time spent with the Orchestra, Yazbek offered advice and thoughts on how our students were doing with his music! He had wonderful things to say and was sure that MSU would put on a fantastic production of his show!
David Yazbek with the cast of MSU's The Full Monty

Saturday was a very special day for many Theatre Majors. Yazbek held a three-hour Vocal Master class, where some very lucky students had the opportunity to perform a song and receive feedback from David himself! Our students put out some stellar performances and received some advice that they'll never forget! Below are a few fun pictures from the class!
Gabe Sell (Junior BFA) performs "Great Big Stuff"

3rd Year Musical Theatre MFA, Erin Horst shows us how it's done!
Mikhayla Clausen (Junior BFA) sings from the musical Urinetown.
Emily Scinto (Senior BFA) belts it out!

(Senior BFA) Maureen O'Malley performs a song from Parade.
(Sophomore BFA) Cam Pederson shows us some moves!
Saturday evening hundreds gathered in the Elias J. Halling Recital Hall to enjoy "An Evening with David Yazbek." This program was designed to showcase the talents of David Yazbek and his work. David entertained the audience with a few numbers and then turned it over to the students of MSU's Theatre Department. Cast members from MSU's The Full Monty gathered to perform three numbers from their upcoming production including "It's A Woman's World", "Big-Ass Rock" and "Michael Jordan's Ball." Following that, a select few students performed numbers from David Yazbek's other two shows. Gabe Sell (Junior BFA) performed "Great Big Stuff" from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Senior BFA's Amanda Mai and Daniel Lane performed "Love is My Legs", also from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Finally, from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, we heard "Lovesick" performed by Senior BFA, Emily Scinto

This week brought new experiences and great memories to every student and teacher involved. David passed on an incredible amount of information, and was kind, engaged and open the entire time. We were thankful to have him here with us and wish him the best in the future! THANK YOU DAVID!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Everybody cut "Footloose!"

Big cities and small towns have always been two different worlds with their own set of values and ideas. "Footloose" shows what happens when those different worlds collide.

“Footloose takes place in a very specific time and place, and yet, it still resonates right now,” Paul Hustoles, Highland artistic director said. “Just think about the world as it exists now and the people who don’t want to be on the cutting edge of social norms and those who want to bring society kicking and dragging into a new world. ‘Footloose’ demonstrates that beautifully.”

The forth and final show of the “Golden” anniversary season will be “Footloose.” Written by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie with music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Pitchford, “Footloose” the musical is based on the 1984 movie that shares the same name. Ren McCormack is a regular city teenager who enjoys going out dancing in Chicago after a long day of work. His life is flipped upside down when he and his mother have to relocate from the big city to the small town of Bomont. When he gets to Bomont he soon learns that it is a very religious town and they have a ban on dancing. Determined to change the adult’s opinions he teams up with Willard Hewitt and Ariel Moore (the minister’s daughter) and together they try to convince the town council that dancing isn’t a bad thing.
“Footloose” is Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic & Fracture Clinic, Farrish Johnson Law Office and an anonymous donor. The show was last produced as the main stage opener in the fall of 2002. “Footloose” will be the closing show of the 50th “Golden” anniversary Highland Summer Theatre season.


Friday, June 24, 2016

MSU Theatre gets nerdy again

Most of us have had one of these special friends in our lives -- the one who doesn't quite know when lines have been crossed or welcomes have been overstayed or things have just gotten a little too weird. That's why such a wide audience can relate to "The Nerd," the third installment of Highland Summer Theatre.

“The Nerd” is a play written by Larry Shue. This play set in Indiana during late 1979 is about a young architect and how an unexpected visitor shakes up his life. Willum Cubbert (the architect) is having a house party with his friends Axel and Tansy when Rick Steadman shows up unannounced. Rick saved Willum’s life in Vietnam and even though the two have never met they have exchanged letters wherein Willum has told Rick he could come to him for help at anytime. Rick decides to move in and his nerdy, awkward and clumsy behavior causes problems for Willum’s professional life during a dinner party he is holding with a client.

Steven Labine, a recent BFA Musical Theatre graduate, had a good time playing the title role.

Willum is a fun character to play. Everyone knows somebody like him. He's a nice guy but just not all that interesting. That's where his charm is, he's likably bland. But throughout the show he grows and that is a great experience for an actor.”

History repeats itself, as “The Nerd” was the third installment of the 50th “Golden” anniversary Highland Summer Theatre season, the exact same slot it was produced in for the 2001 season. Other notable shows that took place in this slot includes: “Boeing Boeing” (2014), “The Seven Year Itch” (2006), and “Anything Goes” (1975). “The Nerd” is sponsored by the Minnesota State Mankato TRIO Programs and will run from June 22nd to the 25th in the Andreas Theatre.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Seussical "...speaks to all ages"

Based on the works of Dr. Seuss “Seussical” is a show the whole family can enjoy. The show’s plot is based mainly on 3 popular Dr. Seuss books: “Horton Hears a Who!” “Horton Hatches the Egg” and “Miss Gertrude McFuzz.” A small boy and The Cat in the Hat begin the story and first find an elephant named Horton. Much like the book, in the musical Horton the Elephant finds a speck of dust and soon learns that the tiny speck contains the entirety of Whoville.

Horton realizes that he must protect the speck and the Whos living there all the while being ridiculed by Sour Kangaroo and other jungle animals. Another story that the musical follows is that of a bird named Gertrude. She has strong feelings for Horton but is worried that he doesn’t feel the same because her tail feathers are droopy and underwhelming. Mayzie LaBird, whose tail is beautiful, gives Gertrude the advice to see Dr. Drake. The Doctor gives Gertrude pills to make her tail grow. However, being impressed by how well they work she ends up taking too many. At the end of the first act a group of monkeys steal the clover that has the speck of dust and Horton is captured by hunters. Gertrude tries to save him but is unsuccessful because her tail is now too heavy.

Amanda Mai, a BFA Musical Theatre candidate at Minnesota State University, Mankato is enjoying her role as Mayzie. “I love Seussical because on the surface it's just a really fun upbeat show that's great for kids. But, if you dig a little deeper, there are universal themes that resonate with people of all ages.”

Xcel Energy and the Weilage Advisory Group are the sponsors for Seussical. Due to a generous donation from them MSU Theatre was able to partner with the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota. 300 tickets were given away to less-fortunate children in the community so they could have the opportunity to see a preview performance of the show on June 7th. Coughlan Companies in North Mankato also donated 25 Dr. Seuss to be given out to 5 lucky children each performance by the Cat himself.

Come see the crazy antics of the CAT IN THE HAT and the rest of the cast!

Still 2 performances left!*

*as of Friday June 10th, 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"Vanya ..." is full of laughs and mayhem

          The summer is well underway for MSU Theatre with Highland Summer Theatre's 50th "Golden Anniversary" season opener, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," set to open this coming Wednesday, May 25th.

          This comedy by Christopher Durang is
about three siblings, all of whom are named after Anton Chekhov characters by their theater-loving, professor parents. Vanya and Sonia live easy enough lives spending their days reflecting on chances they have missed in life due to taking care of their now deceased parents. Cassandra, their housekeeper claims to be able to predict the future and warns them to beware. Problems soon arise when their famous actress sister, Masha, arrives in town for a visit with her young new boyfriend, Spike. While in town, Spike befriends an aspiring young actress who's name is Nina. This puts Masha on edge because Nina is very pretty and much younger than her. Tempers flare as Masha seeks to be the center of attention.

          Come see how the show plays out this week at the 50th "Golden Anniversary" of Highland Summer Theatre's opener "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike." The show opens Wednesday and runs until Saturday, May 28th, with performances starting at 7:30 pm. Tickets are on sale now at the MSU theatre and dance webpage. Or by calling the box office at (507) 389-6661, open 4-6 pm Monday-Friday and 6:30-7:30 on show nights. Single ticket prices for this show are $16, or $14 for seniors (over 65), children (under 16), and students (with a valid ID). Discounts can only be applied in person at the box office.

          If you would like to see all of the season's shows, season "Golden Tickets" are still available until Saturday. Season tickets cost $66 to see all four shows and must be ordered in the mail with the order form available in the season brochure.

Come and celebrate 50 "Golden" years of Highland Summer Theatre!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Spring Dance Recital

As the school year comes to a close the Spring Dance Concert will go out with a bang! Featuring a wide variety of work by faculty members Daniel Stark, Julie Kerr-Berry, guest choreographer Allison Doughty, and two of our students, Rachel Dreist and Shawn Jones-Murray. The dance concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 29th and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 30th in the Ted Paul Theatre. There will also be a student showcase on Sunday May 1st, featuring work choreographed by our very own students!

Abby Okoneski and Morgan Olson

Morgan Olson, Kaitlin O'Neill, Vanessa Boreland

Morgan Olson and Abby Okoneski

Emily Nelson and Rachel Dreist

Hannah Milbauer

Kristin Elsbernd

Morgan Olson

Melissa Rosenberger's Jazz Dance
The cast of Melissa Rosenberger's tap piece, 42 Cups

Dancers tap to 42 Street