IU Summer Theatre 2017 season announced, featuring upbeat musicals and Shakespeare and Austen in repertory

Apr 17, 2017

Bloomington, IND – For the seventh consecutive summer, Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance will present a summer season of engaging, professional theatre. The 2017 IU Summer Theatre season includes a world premiere musical, a tongue-in-cheek throwback musical, and “hidden gem” plays from William Shakespeare and Jane Austen.

The summer season will begin with Dames at Sea (June 2-18), a 1966 musical with book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, and music by Jim Wise that pays loving homage to the extravagant, spectacle-driven musicals of the 1930s. This glitzy comedy, laden with catchy show-tunes and elaborate tap-dance numbers, tells the story of a young girl from Utah arriving to Broadway with hopes of becoming a star. Dames at Sea ironically didn’t make it to Broadway itself until 50 years after it was written, when it opened at the Helen Hayes theatre in 2015 and garnered acclaim (and a Tony nomination) for its choreography.

Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost and Jane Austen’s Persuasion will run in repertory between July 7 – 23. Both works are lesser-known pieces that nonetheless showcase the singular voices of their authors. In Love’s Labour’s Lost, an early romantic comedy of Shakespeare, the King of Navarre (Jason Craig West) and his three companions swear off romance to better focus on their scholastic endeavors, but their vows are put to the test by a court visit from a beautiful princess (Ashley Dillard) and her entourage of three conveniently eligible ladies. Delightful wordplay and side-splitting situational comedy define this gem of the Shakespeare canon. Department chair Jonathan Michaelson, who directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the 2016 IU Summer Theatre, will return for Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Jane Austen’s Persuasion, adapted to the stage by California playwright Jennifer Le Blanc, is the classic tale of “the one that got away”. Anne Elliot (Ashley Dillard), a young Englishwoman, is shocked when her former fiancé Captain Wentworth (Grant Goodman) falls back in her life seven years after their engagement is abruptly cancelled. Both resist rekindling their old relationship due to a more complicated and matured outlook on life, competing suitors, and the remnants of their former class differences. The show will be directed by Dale McFadden, head of Acting and Directing at IU, who previously helmed Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice at IU, but is enjoying the creative distinctions of Persuasion, Austen’s final novel. “I think there are more hidden agendas, and more manipulation and intrigue than in the other plays,” says McFadden.

Both Persuasion and Love’s Labour’s Lost share the same fourteen-person cast, including Equity actors Grant Goodman, Jenny McKnight, and IU professor and stage and screen actor Henry Woronicz, as well as both graduate and undergraduate student actors.

The summer season will come to a close with new musical Joe Schmoe Saves the World (August 16-19), a dance-rock musical that takes place during the Arab Spring in Iran and tells the parallel stories of an indie rock duo in America and two Iranian students in Tehran. Written and composed by Brett Ryback and directed by guest artist Christian Barillas, the musical was developed with the assistance of Stephen Schwartz and the ASCAP/Dreamworks Musical Theatre Workshop and the Black Swan Lab at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and was selected for the NAMT Festival of New Musicals before being secured to have its world premiere here at IU.

IU Summer Theatre is a committed partner with the IU Summer Festival of the Arts, which includes programming by the IU Art Museum, IU Cinema, the Lilly Library, and more.

At a glance:

WHAT: IU Summer Theatre

WHEN: Dames at Sea, June 2 – 18; Persuasion, July 7 – 23; Love’s Labour’s Lost, July 7 – 23; Joe Schmoe Saves the World, August 16-19

WHERE: Indiana University Summer Theatre in residence at the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, Indiana University

TICKETS: Regular admission is $20 for all adults, $10 for students. For more information, call the box office at 812.855.1103 or visit theatre.indiana.edu. Group discounts available.

For interviews and additional production information, contact Amy Osajima at aosajima@indiana.edu or 812-855-0514.