From Shakespeare to The Go-Go’s, KU plans in-person theater, dance performances

The University of Kansas’ Department of Theatre & Dance is planning for a season of in-person performances on the Lawrence campus this school year.

“We are excited to get to work,” said Henry Bial, professor and chair of the department. “There’s nothing like a year of quarantine to make you think hard about your priorities, and for us that’s meant doubling down on our commitment to telling stories that celebrate diversity of all kinds and offer a hopeful vision for the future. We aren’t quite where we hoped we would be with the pandemic, and we may have to make some adjustments along the way, but we need to perform, we want to perform for our community, and we’re going about it as safely as we can.”

The season will feature a musical, “Head Over Heels,” that highlights music from The Go-Go’s; a Shakespearean comedy; and several original dance and theatrical works by KU students.

The fall and spring performance schedules include:

• Oct. 1-7: “Airness,” a comedy with classic tunes from the 1980s and 1990s that centers around an air guitar competition.

• Oct. 22-31: “Head Over Heels,” a tale of a royal family trying to save their kingdom, all set to the music of the all-female 1980s rock band The Go-Go’s.

• Nov. 19-21: University Dance Company Fall Concert featuring ballet, contemporary and hip-hop works choreographed by KU faculty members.

• Dec. 3-9: “The Devils Between Us,” a story of a trans woman who came of age in the American South and revisits her roots as a Muslim as she returns to her childhood home.

• Feb. 25 to March 6: “Measure for Measure,” a William Shakespeare comedy that centers around a group of power brokers, government change, and a life-and-death proposition.

• March 25-27: University Dance Company Spring Concert that will feature “Tesselations,” a contemporary dance set to Parisian cafe music. The performance is choreographed by Gabrielle Lamb, a Guggenheim Fellow who is completing a fellowship at KU this school year.

• April 1-3: Jayhawk Performance Lab Festival, a series that features original works by KU Theatre & Dance students.

• April 29 through May 5: “H.M.S. Pinafore,” a seafaring comedic musical that is produced in cooperation with KU Symphony Orchestra.

The theater department also plans to do several celebrations during the season for Katherine Pryor, who is retiring as director of theater after 42 years in the department. Pryor plans to retire in May.

For information on times and the specific theaters for each performance, go to


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