Wayland opens theatre season with Peanuts

August 23, 2012

PLAINVIEW -- Wayland Baptist University’s School of Fine Arts 2012-13 theatre season opens “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and ends with another run at Ruidoso’s Spencer Mountain Theatre Collaborative.

Dr. Marti Runnels, Dean of the School of Fine Arts and Director of Theatre, is reaching back 23 years to resurrect the first play he ever directed at Wayland as this year’s WBU Homecoming musical. The play is scheduled for Oct. 18-20 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for children.

“When I first came here, I thought it would be a great first show,” Runnels said. “I thought it was a great show to start with because it appeals to everyone.”

Runnels explained that there are certain sections of comedy that are very entertaining to varying segments of the theatre crowd, but don’t have the same kind of universal appeal that is seen with Schulz’s Peanuts characters. 

“If you start talking about Peanuts or Charlie Brown, you can almost see a smile come across everybody’s face,” Runnels said.

Based on the Peanuts characters, “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” is a musical that looks at little moments in Charlie Brown’s life. Charlie, Snoopy and the gang experience everything from Valentine’s Day to baseball season and emotions ranging from wild optimism to utter despair.

The next show on the schedule is “Shorts – Sweet Little Sixteen,” running Nov. 15-18 with shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets cost $8.

A staple on the WBU stage, “Shorts” is a collection of short plays ranging from the comedic to dramatic, generally directed by a WBU theatre upperclassman. This year, however, Runnels said “Shorts” will be different.

“We have more students involved in theatre than ever before,” Runnels said. “While our department is as big as it has ever been, they are mainly underclassmen.”

This year’s set of shorts will be directed by former students who are still in the area. The list of directors includes Tisa Whitfill and Jennifer Riley who teach at Plainview High School, and Wes Naron, a longtime Plainview resident who is teaching at Cotton Center.

Following “Shorts,” Runnels will step away from the Wayland stage to produce and direct the play “Seven” for Second Baptist Church in Lubbock. Runnels directed “Seven” for Wayland a few years ago and has reassembled the cast to perform a fundraising benefit for Women’s Protective Services.

“Seven” takes a look at seven women from seven different countries around the world and their rise to powerful positions.  

“It’s a story of empowering women who in many cases have endured incredible hardships,” Runnels said. “It’s not a victim play. It’s a play about the places these women have taken in their own countries -- incredible positions of leadership and how they got there.”

“Seven” will show at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in Lubbock. Tickets for these shows must be purchased through Select-A-Seat at 806-770-2000.

Wayland’s spring show will be a production of David Mamet’s “The Water Engine” scheduled for Feb. 28 and March 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8.

The show is the story of a young inventor who found a way to run an engine on distilled water. Set in the 1930s, the controversial technology is sought after by crooked lawyers, while newspaper stories and murder threaten its unveiling.

“It’s a very unique piece of theatre because it is a combination between a play and a radio broadcast,” Runnels said. “When an audience watches this piece, part of the time they will be watching as if they were in a radio studio with people behind microphones and somebody doing sound effects. As they watch the radio drama it starts becoming the play that the radio drama is enacting. It moves between the representational and the presentation … between the fantasy world, radio drama and the actual drama that is unfolding.”

Wayland will also present “The Water Engine” as the school’s entry into the Christian University Theatre Festival on March 4-6. Tickets to Wayland’s show will cost $4.

The Wayland theatre season will culminate in another trip to Ruidoso for the Spencer Theatre Collaborative on June 7. Runnels has not yet decided on a show for that production.

Season tickets, not including “Seven” and the Spencer show, are on sale for $26 or two for $50. For more information, contact the Wayland Theatre Office at 806-291-1060.