Wayland theatre urges "jump in" for an exciting season

PLAINVIEW – Temperatures have been awfully warm this summer, and it doesn’t look to get cool for a while. Fortunately, the theatre department at Wayland Baptist University has some cool entertainment planned for the 2007-08 season.

Director of Theatre Dr. Marti Runnels has chosen three plays sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats in Harral Studio Theatre. Since season ticket holders save money over the year, Runnels encourages area theatre patrons to get in on the cool lineup by Sept. 20.

The season kicks off Sept. 28 with the thoughtful comedy Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a play by comedic actor Steve Martin. Winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play, the production places scientist Albert Einstein and artist Pablo Picasso in a Parisian café in 1904, where the two muse on fanciful topics.

The play is funny, as most would expect from Martin, but Runnels said there is another side to the show.

“A lot of people only know Steve Martin because of one of two things: If they’re older, they know the standup comedy routines or saw him on Saturday Night Live. If they’re younger, they know him from the movies,” Runnels said. “People that have followed him more seriously realize these type of comics are really more complex and have a serious side. Martin is extremely bright, and this play is a comedy, but it is fairly sophisticated in its content.”

Picasso plays Sept. 28 and 29 and Oct. 5 and 6 in a dinner theatre format. A dinner catered by Johnny Carino’s begins at 7 p.m. on the Harral Auditorium stage, followed by the play at 8 p.m. in the Harral Studio Theatre.

Later in the fall, the dramatic Arthur Miller play All My Sons will be performed Nov. 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. in the studio theatre. Though not Miller’s first play, this production is the one Runnels said brought him serious acclaim as America’s playwright.

Death of a Salesman is often considered Miller’s greatest play, but there are many similar themes in this play from that one,” he said. “You can trace many of the same themes from later plays back to All My Sons.”

The dramatic play studies two men who made airplane parts during the war. One man went to prison while the other went free and became wealthy. The emotional drama explores the struggles of both.

The spring homecoming play is Proof by David Auburn, to be directed by Jeff Kensmoe, assistant professor of vocal studies and director of musical theatre. The play involves a woman dealing with the death of her brilliant but unstable father and the question of inheritance of things both tangible and intangible.

“It’s a detective story of sorts,” Runnels said, “as audiences will be trying to figure out the truth along the way.”

Proof, which earned the 2001 Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award, will be performed Feb. 21, 22 and 23 during WBU Homecoming weekend, and again Feb. 29 and March 1, all at 8 p.m. Dessert and discussion will follow the play on the first weekend of performances.

The season closes out with Shorts XI, the traditional series of short plays directed by theatre students. A hands-on experience in directing for majors and minors, Shorts is typically a collection of comedic and dramatic pieces making for an eventful evening. Performances are planned for April 17, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m.

Season tickets are $40 for a single, representing a 10 percent savings over regular ticket prices. A pair of tickets is $75, and season seats include the dinner theatre and the three following shows. Deadline to purchase season tickets is Sept. 20.

Wayland will once again participate in the Sacramento Mountain Theatre Collaborative in Ruidoso, N.M., in June 2008, with a performance at the beautiful Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts in nearby Alto. Tickets for that performance will be $25 and can be purchased in advance by adding $25 to the season ticket total.

For more information or to purchase season tickets, contact the WBU Theatre Box Office at 291-1089.