WVU School of Theatre & Dance announces Mountain State Repertory Theatre; first summer musical will be 'Putting It Together'
“Putting It Together,” a musical review featuring the words and music of Stephen Sondheim, is the first production of Mountain State Repertory Theatre at West Virginia University, the newly formed summer professional theatre of the School of Theatre and Dance.
The show runs June 15-17 and 22-24 at the WVU Creative Arts Center.
According to Lee Blair, the director of the show and a member of the Theatre & Dance faculty who has directed many musicals at the Creative Arts Center, “Putting It Together” is a return to summer theatre for the School of Theatre & Dance.
“The School of Theatre and Dance sees ‘Putting It Together’ as the start of many summers of new theater offerings for North Central West Virginia, with the Rep bringing local and visiting professional theater artists in contact with students in the School of Theatre & Dance, WVU and to our community at large,” he said.
The show features music from some of Stephen Sondheim’s greatest musicals, such as “Into the Woods,” “Company,” “Follies,” “Assassins,” “Sweeney Todd” and the film “Dick Tracy.”
It was an off-Broadway production in 1993 with Julie Andrews and Christopher Durang, and then premiered on Broadway in 1999, starring Carol Burnett, George Hearn and John Barrowman.
In “Putting It Together,” five people come together at a cocktail party hosted by a middle-aged publisher and his disillusioned wife. The other attendees include the publisher’s eager employee and his seductive date, along with another impish and uninvited guest.
As the party progresses, the group examines love and hate, age and attraction, and life and death.
“With little to tie us down to time and space at this ‘party,’ we travel from Sweden to Paris to ancient Rome and from an abandoned theater stage to the woods of a fairy-tale and to a mythical town in the Southwest,” Blair said. “The time periods range from 200 B.C to 1853, to the 1950s, to the 1980s and beyond.”
“Putting It Together” was devised by Sondheim and Julia McKenzie. It is their second such collaboration. Their first was also a musical review, entitled “Side by Side by Sondheim.”
Sondheim is an American composer and lyricist known for his outstanding contributions to musical theater and has been described by Frank Rich of the New York Times as “the greatest, and perhaps best-known artist working in musical theater.” He is the winner of an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards, multiple Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award. Some of his most famous scores as composer include “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “A Little Night Music,” and “Sunday in the Park with George,” and as a lyricist, “West Side Story” and “Gypsy.”
Julia McKenzie is a British actress, singer and theater director known for her work in many Sondheim musicals on the West End and Broadway. She is also known to British television audiences as Miss Marple in “Agatha Christie’s Marple.”
The cast of the Mountain State Rep show includes Jason Shavers, Jessica Morgan Bishop, Greg Holt, Brad Frenette and Ashley Shade.
Jason Shavers (Man 3) is a Pittsburgh native and attended Point Park University. Pittsburgh audiences have seen him in Pittsburgh CLO productions of “Steel” and “Pioneers of Flight”, the Pittsburgh Playhouse production of “Grand Hotel” and in Pittsburgh Opera productions of “Porgy and Bess” and “Gospel at Colonus.”
Jessica Morgan Bishop (Woman 1) is associate professor of stage movement in the WVU School of Theatre and Dance. Past performance credits include “Carousel” with West Virginia Public Theatre, “Proof” at Greenbrier Valley Theatre, “The Tempest” with WVU/Greenbrier Valley Theatre and “Always, Patsy Cline” at Fairmont State Summer Theatre.
Greg Holt (Man 1) is a recent MFA graduate in Theatre (Acting) from the WVU School of Theatre and Dance. His past performance credits include the third national tour of “Les Miserables,” produced by Cameron Mackintosh, “Fiddler On The Roof” with Tennessee Repertory Theatre and “Godspell” with Arkansas Repertory Theatre. While at WVU, he appeared in productions of “Julius Caesar,” “The Crucible,” “Buried Child” and “The World Goes ‘Round.”
Brad Frenette (Man 2) is a 2012 graduate of Penn State University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. His past productions include “Rent” and “Kiss Me, Kate” with Pennsylvania Centre Stage, “Standarized Testing” with the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, and “She Loves Me” and “Sunday In The Park With George” while at Penn State.
Ashley Shade (Woman 2) hails from Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and is a 2011 graduate of WVU with a BFA in Theatre (Acting). While at WVU, Ashley appeared in productions of “Julius Caesar,” “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” “Dog Sees God” and “Love of The Nightingale.”
Mountain State Rep’s “Putting It Together” opens June 15, and continues June 16-17 and 22-24 in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre at the WVU Creative Arts Center. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m., except for Sunday performances, which are 2 p.m. matinees.
Tickets for “Putting It Together” are available at www.ticketmaster.com, at the CAC and Mountainlair Box Offices, or by calling 304-293-SHOW.
For more information about “Putting It Together” and Mountain State Rep at WVU, go to theatre.wvu.edu or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts
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