Oswego Theatre Season Offers Drama, Comedy, Song

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Historic hoaxes, mistaken identities and musical aspirations are among the themes slated for the 2009-10 main stage theatre season at SUNY Oswego.

The season will begin with a stage adaptation of the Howard Koch script “The War of the Worlds.” Made famous by the 1938 radio broadcast directed by Orson Welles and featuring his Mercury Theatre Company, the script is based on the H.G. Wells novel.

In Koch’s version, a radio show is interrupted several times by announcements of meteorological disturbances on the planet Mars, and it soon becomes evident that a full-fledged Martian invasion is under way in Grover’s Mill, N.J.

“In our contemporary multimedia telling of the tale, the audience experiences the disturbing reality of the terrors outside the studio through language and sound effects,” said director Mark Cole, chair of SUNY Oswego’s theatre department. “The script is part cautionary tale and part experimental storytelling. There will be some intriguing surprises along the way.”

The production will open with a preview performance Tuesday, Oct. 13, and continue through Oct. 18 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre. It is suggested for ages 14 and older.

‘Blood’ spilled

Senior theatre major Keegan Bushey will direct the annual student honors production “Blood Relations.” Written by Canadian playwright Sharon Pollock, the play explores the character of the now legendary Lizzie Borden who stood trial—and was acquitted—for the brutal murder of her father and stepmother.

Ten years after the trial, an actress dares ask: “Did you, Lizzie?” Lizzie relives the events surrounding that oppressive August day and guides the actress through her memory—a memory that raises disturbing questions about innocence and guilt.

“This is a cunning puzzle of a play,” Cole noted. “Pollock has researched the writing and court transcripts surrounding the infamous case and imaginatively created a stifling late Victorian atmosphere in which smoldering family resentments, desire and retribution play out. It also features an actress as a character so that the action, although rooted in psychological realism, has a bold theatricality to it.”

The production will open with a preview Tuesday, Nov. 17, and run through Nov. 22 in Tyler Hall’s lab theatre. It is suggested for ages 16 and older.

‘Songs’ for spring

The spring semester will open with Jason Robert Brown’s “Songs for a New World” which played off-Broadway in fall 1995 and has since unfolded in more than 200 productions around the world. Composer/lyricist Brown described the pop/rock musical revue as “about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back.”

Characters seek the American dream through laughter, love, companionship, adventure and passion. The 16-song score encompasses musical theatre, cabaret, jazz, gospel and funk, with lyrics creating story and character. The revue explores love lost and found, dreams postponed and fulfilled, and moments in life when startling choices are made.

Presented in collaboration with SUNY Oswego’s music department, the production features stage direction by Jonel Langenfeld-Rial and music direction by Todd Graber. “Songs for a New World” will play in Waterman Theatre Feb. 25 to 27 and March 5 to 7. It is suggested for ages 15 and older.

Historic farce

“She Stoops to Conquer” by Oliver Goldsmith is the final main stage production of the year. The play centers around the farcical premise of a practical joke and mistaken identity when the mischievous Tony Lumpkin convinces Mr. Marlow that the home of Marlow’s fiancee, Kate Hardcastle, is an inn.

Marlow is bashful with the refined Kate in person, but when Kate stoops to the disguise of a barmaid to observe Marlow’s true colors, she finds him audacious and bold. The comic complications gather steam as Marlow aggressively pursues his seduction of the barmaid and makes a fool of himself in the process.

“Oliver Goldsmith wanted to reinvent the comic theatre of his age, the late 18th century, and move from sentimental comedies to a more robust, earthier and unpredictable style,” Cole explained. “He achieved this in ‘She Stoops to Conquer,’ which was first produced in 1773 and continues to be one of the most popular comedies in the English language.”

The play “offers us a delightful array of characters including the hypocritical Mr. Marlow, the boisterous Tony Lumpkin, and the pretentious Mrs. Hardcastle,” Cole added. “Kate Hardcastle, who is determined to test the mettle of the man her father has arranged for her to marry, is a dream for an actress.”

“She Stoops to Conquer” will play in Waterman Theatre April 22 to 24 and May 1 and 2. It is suggested for ages 16 and over.

“The season for the coming year not only showcases both classic and contemporary writing of the highest order, but also features characters at the extreme,” Cole said. “Jason Robert Brown’s characters sing passionately of life-changing moments in ‘Songs for a New World,’ the characters in ‘The War of the Worlds’ create the nightmare of invasion, Lizzie Borden is caught up in the violence of a brutal act, and the young lovers in ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ boldly play the game of courtship.”

New Voices 2010, co-sponsored with the English and creative writing department, will feature staged readings of the six winners of Oswego’s student-written 10-minute play contest on March 27 and 28 in the lab theatre. The event is recommended for ages 16 and above.

For show times, see http://www.oswego.edu/arts. For ticket information or reservations to any theatre production, contact SUNY Oswego’s Tyler box office at 312-2141.

The season will begin with a stage adaptation of the Howard Koch script “The War of the Worlds.” Made famous by the 1938 radio broadcast directed by Orson Welles and featuring his Mercury Theatre Company, the script is based on the H.G. Wells novel.