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Released June 9, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- Southern Arena Theatre, the summer repertory company at The University of Southern Mississippi, has announced its 28th season-one that boasts productions of comedy, comedy and more comedy. Frank Kuhn, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, characterized the season as "a potpourri of perfect summer entertainment."

The season opens July 9 in the Gilbert F. Hartwig Theatre with actor/comedian Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile." When Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso meet in a Paris bar, they become instant rivals, battling wits about painting, probability, lust, and the future of the world. Winner of the 1995 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Off-Broadway Play and Best Playwright, this clever comic hit bursts at the seams with social commentary, hilarious chance meetings, and an array of fascinating characters--topped off by Martin's ferocious wit.

Robin Aronson, assistant professor of theatre at Southern Miss and director of the fall 2003 production of "Cabaret," will direct this production.

The second production featured by the repertory will be Larry Shue's "The Nerd," a classic tale about a houseguest who never leaves. SAT patrons will remember Shue's "The Foreigner"-- a hit during the 2003 season.

Aspiring young architect Willum Cubbert is visited by a fellow ex-GI--whom he has never met--who saved his life after being seriously wounded in Vietnam. Although he owes a debt of gratitude to Rick Steadman, Willum soon learns that his guest is a hopeless "nerd," a bumbling oaf with no social sense, little intelligence, and even less tact, but Willum cannot bring himself to ask Rick to leave.

R. B. Hill, retired professor of theatre at Southern Miss and veteran SAT director, returns to direct the production.

The third show in the summer rotation is a cheerful musical revue that draws its inspiration from the Emmy award-winning 1970s Saturday morning cartoon educational commercials "Schoolhouse Rock." Written by Scott Ferguson, Kyle Hall and George Keating, with music and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg, Kathy Mandryk, George Newall and Tom Yohe, "Schoolhouse Rock Live" brings back such cool tunes as "I'm Just a Bill," "Conjunction Function," and "Sufferin' Till Suffrage!"

Professor Monica Hayes, who teaches acting classes at Southern Miss, will direct the show.

In 2003, SAT presented a successful children's show on four mornings during the last week of productions in July. Kuhn said the company will produce yet another children's show, "Tale Trackers," written by the same author, Lorraine Thompson, and again directed by Andrew Elliott, a graduate directing student. The production will run Thursday through Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. during the week of July 28-31.

"One of the delights of last season was the enormous success of the children's show," Kuhn noted. "It was a joy to introduce children to the fun of theatre, and, although it is not part of our rotating three-show repertory, in many ways it is one of the most important things we can do."

Kuhn further explains that this show is targeted for children ranging in age from four to 10. Like the 2003 production, the play offers a delightful and engaging bridge between storytelling and dramatic enactment.

The SAT season extends from July 9 through August 5, and the three plays run in repertory-meaning all three productions are presented throughout the season on consecutive nights.

"It is a great exercise for our student actors and technicians to be working on different shows on successive nights," said Stephen Judd, associate professor of theatre at Southern Miss. "For stage actors, shifting gears from one character to another in less than 24 hours is a great test of skill and focus. For designers and technicians, the planning and implementation of turnarounds at the end of each evening from one show to another is great training in preparation, logistics, and maximizing time."

Play rotation also means convenience for SAT patrons. "A large part of the fun for many patrons is to see the same actors work in two or three very different roles over three consecutive nights," Kuhn said. "We have found that other patrons prefer to go on the same night of the week for three consecutive weeks to see all the shows that way."

Evening performances of SAT productions start at 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees July 17 and 31 for "Schoolhouse Rock Live," and July 25 for "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," 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 "Tale Trackers" 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 or order online at Tickets may be purchased at the theatre box office one hour prior to curtain time for each performance.


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June 11, 2004 4:02 PM