ALLENTOWN, PA — Muhlenberg College’s nationally-ranked Theatre & Dance Department announces its 2015-2016 mainstage season. Highlights include works ranging from James Joyce’s “Ulysses” to 18th commedia dell’arte; a biannual festival of student-written plays; and production of the musical theatre classic “Chicago.”
The season features six fully mounted theatrical productions and three mainstage dance concerts, running from September 2015 to April 2016.
“This exciting season features the new and the newly imagined,” says Beth Schachter, chair of the department. “We are presenting world premieres and fresh versions of classics, spanning international topics and American issues through comedic and serious projects.”
The season begins with “New Voices,” Sept. 30 through Oct. 4, a new-play festival featuring the work of current Muhlenberg students. The festival features four world premiere short plays, with Schachter serving as artistic director.
The old razzle dazzle of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s electrifying Jazz Age musical “Chicago” comes to the Muhlenberg stage for the first time ever, Oct. 30 through Nov. 8. Directed by theatre program director Charles Richter, “Chicago” is a scintillating tale of greed, murder, showbiz — and all that jazz.
“Moving Stories,” Nov. 12-14, features original choreography by the department’s upperclass dance majors, in a variety of genres and styles. The concert showcases dance as storytelling, narration in human form, addressing themes as broad ranging as the students’ own diverse backgrounds. Karen Dearborn serves as artistic director.
Carlo Goldoni’s classic 1746 comedy “Servant of Two Masters” finishes the fall schedule, Dec. 3-6, directed by Muhlenberg faculty member Francine Roussel. Presented in the classic tradition of the Italian Renaissance, the play features stock characters of the commedia dell’arte style, wearing traditional-style masks and costumes.
“Master Choreographers,” Feb. 6-8, with artistic direction by Karen Dearborn, features eight works by faculty and guest artists, including a piece by renowned choreographer Karol Armitage, sponsored by the Dexter F. & Dorothy H. Baker Foundation. Also included will be works by Shelley Oliver, Heidi Cruz-Austin, Jeffrey Peterson, and program chair Karen Dearborn.
The “New Visions” Directors’ Festival, Feb. 24-28 will feature three short plays directed by senior Muhlenberg directing students: “Terrible Beautiful Bodies,” by Muhlenberg alumni Ben Nassau and Moriah Benjoseph; “Hello Out There,” by William Saroyan; and “The Exception and the Rule,” by Bertolt Brecht.
“Dance Emerge,” April 21-24, showcases the ideas and talents of our brightest young choreographers. The intimate Dance Studio Theatre is the backdrop for innovative, explorative dance pieces. Jeffrey Peterson serves as artistic director.
The Muhlenberg Circus Workshop now in its third year, will present an evening of contemporary circus in the college’s Studio Theatre, April 21-24. The Workshop’s performances combine the talents of aerialists, acrobats, jugglers, dancers, actors and other skilled artists in an evening of interactive and energetic performances.
A portion of James Joyce’s classic novel “Ulysses” is adapted for the stage in “Ulysses in Nighttown,” April 28 – May 1. Directed by theatre professor James Peck, the play tackles the rich language of Joyce’s esoteric 1922 novel — in particular, Episode 15, the “Circe” episode, taking place in Nighttown, Dublin’s red-light district.
The mainstage performance series is produced by Muhlenberg College’s acclaimed Theatre & Dance Department, The Princeton Review consistently ranks Muhlenberg’s production program in the top 20 in the nation, including a No. 6 ranking in its current college guide. The Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States.
Tickets and information: 484-664-3333 or http://muhlenberg.edu/theatre&dance. Discounts are available for packages of four or more productions.
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year residential college located in Allentown, Pa., approximately 90 miles west of New York City. With an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 2200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, sciences, business, education and public health. A member of the Centennial Conference, Muhlenberg competes in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.