Productions at KU's University Theatre deserve a place on local residents' entertainment agenda.
In Lawrence's crowded competition for entertainment time and dollars, the University Theatre program at Kansas University shouldn't be forgotten.
Theatre officials announced this week that budget shortfalls had led them to cancel the Kansas Summer Theatre program, which has operated on campus for more than 25 years. The program was a unique opportunity for the university to partner with members of the community to present shows for the summer season. But because ticket revenue hasn't covered the cost of productions and University Theatre has been operated at a deficit for the last four years, the summer productions were canceled to try to balance the budget.
About half of the theater's operating expenses are paid from box-office receipts. Those are tickets that are bought by students, as well as other local residents. But, as Del Unruh, the director of University Theatre noted, competition for audiences in Lawrence is intense. In addition to professional performances in the Lied Center and other local venues, Lawrence is blessed with excellent community theater productions and other events. It would be impossible for even an avid theater-goer to attend them all.
But University Theatre deserves notice. The talents of students involved both on stage and behind the scenes are only exceeded by the level of effort and enthusiasm they put into their work. Many KU graduates have gone on to notable careers in theater and film.
University Theatre's active "Friends" group supports its efforts in many ways including a $20,000 fund-raising effort last year to pay for seating platforms and chairs for the William Inge Memorial Theatre, one of the Murphy Hall venues used by the University Theatre program. The theater also needs and deserves the support of local theater-goers.
The production of "Blithe Spirit" by Noel Coward opened on Friday night. It, like other University Theatre events, should be well worth the time and ticket price for any audience member.