Theatre Institute offers free summer shows

Thursday, May 14, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Stephens College will present four plays during its annual Summer Theatre Institute this year. The shows, which will run between May 22 and June 29, will be free and open to the public.

“It’s a give-back to the community,” said Dan Schultz, the institute’s director. “It’s so people can come and see what we’re all about.”

If you go

What: Stephens College Summer Theatre Institute

When: 7:30 p.m. for all shows: May 22, June 5, June 19 and June 29.

Where: All shows will be performed in the Stephens College Warehouse Theatre, 104 Willis Street, except “Musical Revue,” which will show at Macklanburg Playhouse, 100 Willis Ave.

Admission: All shows are free and open to the public. Seating is general admission.

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The season opens May 22 with “Fantastic Fables and Fairy Tales.” The show runs about an hour and includes three short plays geared toward children. Each short play includes “some sort of fantastic element,” Schultz said, “whether it’s a giant or a giant flying bird or a talking dog.” The first two rows of seating will be removed to accommodate blankets and pillows, and kids will be encouraged to interact with the performers during the play.

“Jerks and Freaks,” which will be performed on June 5, is entirely student-generated. Schultz said the Stephens theater program focuses on teaching students to fully execute their own shows so that graduates will be prepared to generate their own material. “Jerks and Freaks” is advertised for mature audiences because the students have been given the freedom to come up with the material.

Erik Gratton, an actor and fight director from New York City, will be at Stephens College this summer to direct and choreograph the fight scenes in “Combat!”, which will be performed on June 19. Gratton said “Combat!” will be “a showcase of sorts that will deal with hand-to-hand fighting, swords or maybe a couple of stranger weapons than that from time to time.”

The performance of “Musical Revue” on June 29 will close the summer season. The revue is a collection of scenes from famous Broadway shows with singing and dancing. Schultz said he doesn’t know which shows will be performed, but “they’ll be classic musicals everyone knows.”

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