“The Girl, the Grouch and the Goat: A Modern Fable”
A new musical presented by Kansas Summer Theatre
- Thursday, July 17, 2008, 7:30 p.m.
- Murphy Hall, 1530 Naismith Drive, Lawrence
- Cost: $10 - $16
- Age limit: All ages
Written by Jack Helbig and Mark Hollman, 2002 Tony Award-winners for the musical "Urinetown, The Musical!"Tickets are $16 for public, $15 for seniors citizens and faculty and staff, and $10 for students.From University Theatre: Jack Helbig, the script author, is a playwright, journalist and teacher. Mark Hollmann, the composer and lyricist, won the 2002 Tony Award, National Broadway Theatre Award and Obie Award for his score to "Urinetown the Musical."John Staniunas, associate professor and chair of theatre and film, is directing and choreographing the production. Barbara Puckett, staff accompanist for the University Theatre, is music director. Designers are Mark Reaney, professor of theatre and film, scenery; Robert Figueira, Lawrence senior, lights; and Delores Ringer, associate professor of theatre and film, costumes. Orchestrator is Brian Nelson, graduate teaching assistant in music and dance.Based on Menander's fable "Dyskolos," the Greek word for grouch, the musical is "refreshingly unique with a contemporary and creative score," Staniunas said.The evolution of the play has spanned more than 20 years, although University Theatre's involvement began last summer when Staniunas was asked to direct a staged reading of what was then called "The Wild Goat" as part of the Kansas City Festival of New Musicals. Later, the authors asked Staniunas if he would direct a fully staged production at KU.Staniunas said it is "incredibly exciting" for University Theatre to present the world premiere of a new work by a Tony Award-winning composer. Helbig and Hollmann will be on campus during the final rehearsal process."It gives the students an opportunity to work with the author directly when changes are needed in the script," he said. "The singers and the orchestra are working with the composer so they know exactly what he wants from the songs. It is priceless experience for the actors. And, for the authors, it's like doing an out-of-town preview - a trial run - before a Broadway opening.""The Girl, the Grouch, and the Goat" is set in a Greek farming village that is in the grip of drought. The town's grouchiest resident owns the only working well and charges ridiculous prices for water. His nemesis, a strong-willed widow, sets out to free the town from his stronghold by offering a sacrifice to the gods. But when the Grouch's daughter and his rival's son fall in love, their forbidden romance is put through many trials until most of those involved find themselves at the bottom of the well.Staniunas said Hollmann's score is "charming, with each song having its own interesting style.""There are love songs, a jazz quintet and an Al Jolson-style number," Staniunas said. "The leading lady has a real show-stopper song, and the Grouch has a ballad. The show has enchanting production numbers that are well integrated into the story."Production numbers include "It's a Beautiful Day," "What a Pretty Bird Up There," "Doomed" and "Nothing's Stopping Me, Wild Goat!" Musicians for the play are Mike Gersten, Lawrence senior, flute and clarinet; Tabitha Reist Steiner, Lawrence, harp; and Ben Shellhaas, Lawrence graduate student, percussion.Staniunas said there have been challenges in staging "The Girl, the Grouch and the Goat.""We had to show five people falling into a well and then, in the next act, show them living in the well," he said. "But our most challenging hurdle has been staging the flying scenes."The two young lovers in the show daydream about flying freely. Then Zeus turns them into birds."I think the audiences will be mesmerized by actors being hooked to wires and flying across the stage as birds," he said. "Thanks to the wonderful collaboration of our tech staff, especially Alex Weston, University Theatre stage manager, and Gail Trottier, our Costume Shop cutter/draper, we've been able to figure out the rigging and costuming so the actors can really fly."General admission tickets for "The Girl, the Grouch and the Goat" are on sale in the KU ticket offices: University Theatre, 864-3982; Lied Center, 864-ARTS; and Student Union Activities, 864-7469, or online at kutheatre.com. Tickets are $16 for the public, $10 for students and $15 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff. Visa and Mastercard are accepted for phone and online orders.Members of the cast for the KU summer production are listed below by name, level in school and major, parents' names, high school and role.FINNEY COUNTYFrom Holcomb 67851Logan Walker, senior theatre major; son of Lynn and Cindy Walker; Holcomb High School; Man, Slave and Ares.JOHNSON COUNTYFrom Olathe 66062Meghan L. Puhr, junior theatre/voice and journalism major; daughter of Alicia Puhr; Olathe South High School; Myrrhine, Adolescent Girl and Grouch's Mother.From Overland Park 66210Cassie Hollmann, senior elementary education and dance major; daughter of Dan and Andyla Hollmann; Blue Valley North High School; Daria, Adolescent Girl, Aphrodite/Ancient Seer and the Wild Goat.From Overland Park 66213Jeff Sears, junior theatre/voice major; son of Andy and Betsy Sears; Blue Valley Northwest High School; Clemnon, Man and Zeus.From Stilwell 66085Matthew Crooks, senior theatre and English major; son of Mike Crooks and Nancy Wunderlich; Blue Valley High School; Man and Slave.SHAWNEE COUNTYFrom Topeka 66610Sam Beasley, sophomore music education major; son of Jeff and Flo Beasley; Topeka High School; Xander and Adolescent Boy.OHIOFrom Solon 44137Tali Beth Friedman, senior theatre major; daughter of Roz and Ted Friedman; Solon High School; Xanthippie, Woman and Hera.