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Released April 21, 2005

SOUTHERN ARENA THEATRE ANNOUNCES SUMMER SHOWS

Hattiesburg- Southern Arena Theatre (SAT), the summer repertory company at The University of Southern Mississippi, has announced its 29th season—one filled with “suspense, laughter and romance that will delight the entire family,” according to Stephen Judd, director of theatre and SAT producer.

The season runs July 8 through Aug. 4, with three plays running in repertory — meaning all three productions play throughout the season in rotation.

“Our audiences love to see a company of actors work in two or three different roles over three consecutive evenings,” Judd said. “SAT has become a real community tradition, and this year we have pulled out all the stops to offer a light, fun summer fare of entertainment for south Mississippians.”

“We also know that some of our patrons pick one particular night each week to come to the shows. So, offering a flexible schedule for our audiences adds to SAT’s longevity and success,” Judd said.

The season opens with Design for Murder by George Batson, a suspense mystery set in New York’s Hudson Valley. The second production will be Alfred Uhry’s The Last Night at Ballyhoo, the winner of the 1997 Tony Award for Best Play and already becoming a classic.

Completing the trio is Ken Ludwig’s Moon Over Buffalo, a hilarious farce about a down-and-out road company playing a stop in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1953.

Batson’s suspense surrounds the murder of a young maid at an old family estate that threatens to undo the efforts of Celia Granger and her son David to maintain the traditions of their family and home.

Professor of theater Larry Mullican will direct the show. His most recent production, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, was a big hit during the Southern Miss main stage season in February 2005.

Uhry sets his play in December 1939, as Hitler wraps up his invasion of Poland and Gone With the Wind is having its world premiere. A wealthy Jewish family of German descent in Atlanta is getting ready for Ballyhoo, the city’s social event of the season. Especially concerned about their unpopular, unmarried daughter, they believe that Ballyhoo may well be her last chance to get a socially acceptable husband.

The Last Night of Ballyhoo is a funny, warm, and wonderfully gentle look at family, at the significance of tradition, and at the South on the eve of World War II. Directed by Monica Hayes (director of last summer’s Schoolhouse Rock Live), the show is sure to leave audiences laughing and misty-eyed at the memory of first love.

Ludwig’s Moon Over Buffalo follows a theatrical company, led by a battling leading man and lady--a mismatched husband and wife team who only stop fighting long enough to spit out their lines on stage. A stroke of fortune lands them one more shot at starring roles in Frank Capra’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Capra is en route to Buffalo to catch their performance.

Scot Mann is directing Moon Over Buffalo in his first outing for SAT audiences. Mann, who recently directed the Shakespeare Alive! production, teaches acting, stage combat and movement at Southern Miss.

SAT’s 2005 children’s show has a new twist. Faculty members Robin Aronson (theater performance/voice) and Dr. Jennifer Shank (music) have put together a summer camp, “A Midsummer Music Theatre Experience.” The camp is open to youth, ages 9-15, and will explore the various aspects of musical theater performance. The camp will culminate in performances of How to Eat Like a Child and Other Lessons in Not Being a Grown-Up on July 28-30. Show times will be announced at a later date.

Design for Murder runs July 8, 13, 16, 21, 26, 29 and Aug. 2. Ballyhoo runs July 9, 14, 19, 22, 27 and Aug. 3, with 2 p.m. matinees on July 24 and 30. Moon Over Buffalo runs July 12, 15, 20, 23, 28, 30 and Aug. 4, with 2 p.m. matinees July 16, 17 and 31.

Evening performances of SAT productions begin at 7:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. for all matinees. All performances will be held in the Gilbert F. Hartwig Theatre.

Individual show tickets for the three plays in repertory are $10 for regular admission, $8 for senior citizens and Southern Miss faculty and staff, and $6 for students. Tickets for the children’s show are $5 each.

Season tickets, including all three productions, are $25 for regular admission, $20 for senior citizens and Southern Miss faculty and staff, and $15 for students. Tickets go on sale June 21 to the public. Donors to Southern Arena Theatre may order their tickets now. Information on becoming a donor is available by calling (601) 266-4994.

For tickets, call the Southern Miss Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425. Order online at www.usm.edu/tickets. Tickets may be purchased at the theater box office one hour prior to curtain time for each performance.

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April 22, 2005 4:55 PM