Theater season continues

Southern Oregon University's Department of Theatre Arts continues its 2008 season with the opening of two plays in February.

As part of its regular season of theater productions, the university stages a play for young audiences. This year's children's theatre offering is "Many Moons," adapted by Charlotte Chorpenning from the book by James Thurber.

"Many Moons" plays at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Three shows are set for Saturday, March — at 11 a.m., — p.m. and 7 p.m. The show runs Feb. 15 through March 2 in the Center Square Theatre, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Thurber wrote the children's book "Many Moons" in 1943. It received the Caldecott Medal in 1944. Charlotte Chorpenning, who adapted Thurber's story to the stage, wrote and directed most of the plays for the Children's Theatre at the Goodman Theatre of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1932 to 1951.

The story follows 10-year-old Princess Lenore who ate too many raspberry tarts and believes that the moon will take away her stomach ache. "This story, with its colorful characters and fairy tale-like plot, is a delight for children and adults," says Director Chris DuVal in a press release. "We laugh and identify with the Court Jester as he and the Princess work out their simple miracle while the Wise Men are forced to eat humble pie."

DuVal says that "the play teaches us that the perspectives of children are pure and free from clutter &

and that from this mind set, new and innovative ideas can be planted and nurtured. It's my goal that our audiences, young and mature alike, will not only be captivated and charmed by this story but also deeply moved by the powerful message of simplicity it presents of innocent and uncluttered thought."

DuVal has been a member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival company. Most recently, he directed actors in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival School Tour Program, which sends teams of actors into a variety of elementary, high school and colleges to perform and teach. He directs academic and community theatre and has been a fight director for 50 productions in high schools, colleges and regional theatres throughout the West.

Tickets are $17 regular admission, $14 for seniors, and $5 for students.

Southern Oregon University's Department of Theatre Arts will present the musical "Urinetown" by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 21-23, Feb. 28-March 1, and March 6-8; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 2 and 9, in the Center Stage Theatre. Music by Hollmann and lyrics by Hollmann and Kotis received the 2002 Tony Award for "Best Original Score." Kotis received the 2002 Tony Award for "Best Book of a Musical."

The UGC, or Urine Good Company, has taken over management of a Gotham-like city's water supply after decades of drought have led to an extreme water shortage. Private toilets are outlawed and citizens must pay to use public facilities. This sets the stage for a revolution by the city's destitute residents. In a related story line, the daughter of UGC's chief executive falls in love with the leader of the rebellion.Randall Stuart is the director, James Giancarlo is choreographer, and Jennifer Schloming is musical director. Leading roles will be played by Tim Homsley (Bobby Strong), Monique Barbee (Hope Cladwell), Jon-Erik Hegstad (Caldwell B. Cladwell), Samuel Dinkowitz (Officer Lockstock) and Danielle Chaves (Penelope Pennywise). Scenic design is by Roger Wykes, costume design by Deborah Rosenberg, and lighting design by Chris Sackett.Stuart describes the play in a press release as "this marvelous theatre piece, which, ironically, happens to be chock-o-block full of great musical numbers in the American Musical idiom and also a deep bow to the works of Brecht and Weill and the innovators of European theatre between and during World War I and II, who were dissecting and pulling apart traditional forms." "It certainly explores political issues like Fascism versus Socialism, privilege versus deprivation," says Giancarlo. "It's a bit post-apocalyptic which makes us think about how we, as global citizens, are going to deal with the stress that huge environmental catastrophes could cause." Stuart adds, "My admiration for the play is rooted in its honest send-up of the musical form, while still weaving a great, epic tale of survival in a world where naughty men apply diabolical rules, and where Art has its day, and where things aren't tidy. While being an 'anti-musical,' it also scores a homer as a grand, entertaining musical evening of theatre and critique." The play features the singing and dancing of 32 students from the SOU Department of Theatre Arts and Department of Music. Musical numbers intentionally imitate styles of music from "Fiddler on the Roof," "Rent" and "Les Mis&

233;rables," among others.

"As a choreographer, I love that 'Urinetown' self-consciously quotes from classic Musical Theatre continuously, all the while giving it a vigorous twist," says Giancarlo.

Stuart trained at the American Conservatory Theatre and now teaches and directs at the graduate level, having returned to his alma mater ACT to direct MFA students in various classical genres. Based in Portland, he is the artistic director of the theatre troupe Upon These Boards. He directed the UTB production of the "Lysistrata Project" with a cast of 100 at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, which was given the Special Award by the Bay Area Critics Circle in 2003.

Local theatre-goers will remember his performances at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival during the 1980s.

Giancarlo is the managing artistic director and a founding member of the Oregon Cabaret Theatre. He has directed and/or choreographed 60 productions and written eight musicals. He performed in the OSF Green Show for six seasons. Giancarlo has taught in SOU Department of Theatre Arts since 1990.Tickets are $17 regular admission, $14 for seniors, and $5 for students.

See /theatre or call 552-6348.

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