Spy Thriller Parody ‘The 39 Steps’

Spy Thriller Parody ‘The 39 Steps’

39 StepsTales of intrigue on a cinematic scale come to the Austin College stage when The 39 Steps is presented November 15 through November 17, with shows at 7:30 each evening. Tickets are $8 for the general public or free with a current Austin College ID. The Austin College Improv Troupe will perform each night after the feature play. For more information call 903.813.2281. The script includes some simulated violence and gun play but no significant adult themes.

The script by English playwright, actor, and comedian Patrick Barlow is a stage adaptation of the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the classic 1935 movie by Alfred Hitchcock. The play is unique because the more-than-130 characters included are played by only four actors. Words like spy thriller, comedy, and “a dash of Monty Python” have been used to describe the production that premiered in June 2005 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Austin College senior Jacob Dowling of Little Rock, Arkansas, selected the script and directs the student production. “I wanted to do something that would be challenging to put on a stage, and not the usual thing of people standing on stage just talking about their problems. I wanted to do something bigger, cinematic, and also fun. The 39 Stepschecks all those boxes,” he said.

With all the elements of a spy thriller, The 39 Steps includes staging feats and the humor of parody while the story travels from London to the Scottish highlands.

Main character Richard Hannay, played by senior Marissa Wilkinson of Wilsonville, Oregon, is framed for a crime and is on the run from the police. Vignette adventures unfold including three different love interests, all played by senior Sarah Klawun of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and a plane chase that references Hitchcock’s classic movie North by Northwest. Junior Robbie Moore of Garland, Texas, and senior Bailey Carrell of San Antonio, Texas, play the many remaining characters in the story.

The student production includes the following production staff members: sophomore Michael Megenhardt of Houston, stage manager; junior Drew Maienschein of Claremore, Oklahoma, and Kat Forbus of Plano, Texas, assistant stage managers; senior Matthew Rapier and Erin Bobbit both of Plano, Texas, sound designers; junior Aurora Hadzic of New Market, Maryland, costume designer; and Harper Jambor and Abbey Goodman both of Austin, Texas, properties designers. Liz Banks, associate professor of theatre, designed the set and lights.

In December, the Austin College directing class will present a series of one-act plays.

Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change LivesAustin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.

Austin College Theatre Department Opens Season

Austin College Theatre Department Opens Season

Sherman Texas | September 24, 2017

The Austin College Theatre Department will open its season with Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan September 28-30 at 7:30 p.m. in Ida Green Communication Center’s Beardsley Arena Theatre. General admission is $8 or free with the presentation of a valid Austin College ID. For more information, call 903.813.2281. Advisory: the play includes significant profanity.

the Cripple of Inishmaan

A Talk Back with the cast will follow the September 28 performance; a performance by Austin College’s Improv Troupe will follow the September 29 production.

The play, directed by Dan Pucul, a 2004 graduate of Austin College and the Theatre Department’s full-time technical coordinator, is a dark comedy set in 1934 Ireland—specifically a tiny island in the Galway Bay called Inishmaan. The plot centers around Billy Claven, the town’s orphan boy who’s been deformed from birth and lives a quiet life with his two adopted aunts, Kate and Eileen, in their general store. That is, until one day when JohnnyPateenMike brings news that an American named Robert Flaherty will be directing a new film on the neighboring island of Inishmore. “The Cripple of Inishmaan is a play about what makes a place a home and what make people a family,” Pucul said.

The cast includes senior Emma Grundy of Wichita Falls, Texas, as Cripple Billy Claven, with senior Sarah Klawun of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and freshman Abby Goodman of Austin, Texas, playing aunts Eileen and Kate, respectively; sophomore Kyle Andrle of Allen, Texas, Bartley McCormick; junior Harri Drake of Whitesboro, Texas, Slippy Helen; senior Matthew Rapier of Plano, Texas, as JohnnyPateenMike; senior Christopher Cooper of Midland, Texas, BabbyBobby Bennett; sophomore Alexandra Baker-Livingston of Richardson, Texas, Mammy O’Dougal; and freshman Harper Jambor of Austin, Texas, Doctor McSharry.

The design team includes sophomore Anna Kat Forbus of Plano, Texas, costumes; senior Bailey Carrell of San Antonio, Texas, sound; freshman Nick Chaviers, projections; junior Aurora Hadzic of Lubbock, Texas, and senior Rebekah Urban of Whitesboro, Texas, “commanders of the Prop Army.” Liz Banks of the theatre faculty designed the lights, and Pucul designed the set.

In November, the department will present the melodrama The 39 Steps, based on the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock spy thriller. In the production that guarantees “lots of laughs,” four actors play 130 characters in the 100-minute production. Senior Jacob Dowell of Little Rock, Arkansas, will direct the production. In December, the directing class presents an evening of one-act plays to showcase student work.

Austin College is a leading national independent liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas. Founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original charter and name, the college is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Recognized nationally for academic excellence in the areas of international education, pre-professional training, and leadership studies, Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives.

Theatricks to hold 3 day play writing conference

Theatricks to hold 3 day play writing conference

Theatricks Play Writing ConferenceStages Back & 4th!

Youth theater Playwriting Conference

Sherman Community Players’ youth theatre, Theatricks, is hosting a very fun and active theatre conference, STAGES (Student Theatre Artists Generating Entertaining Scripts), this summer for the fourth year now.

The conference will be held June 8,9,10, 2017 in the historic Kidd-Key Auditorium in Sherman, TX. The focus of the three-day conference will be the creation of 10-minute one-act plays. The plays will be performed on the Kidd-Key stage on day three of the conference. Students in grades 6 through 12 are invited to attend.

Day One

The conference will kick-off with a workshop taught by award-winning playwright, Ruth Cantrell, who will share her expertise as she instructs participants in the process of writing a play.

Ruth currently works with the Dallas Children’s Theatre as a teacher. Before that she was the professor of Theatre Arts at New Mexico State University in Las Cruses, NM from 1985 to 2012 where she taught: Script Analysis, Acting I, Acting II, Acting Styles, Creative Dramatics, Playwriting, and Introduction to Theatre. Her plays are published by Youth Plays (www.youthplays.com). While in New Mexico, Ruth was awarded the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievements in the Arts (New Mexico’s Highest Arts Award).

Following the playwriting workshop, students will actively participate in a session on improvisational technique taught by professional Lindsay Goldapp. During this activity, students will learn tools which will aide them in the development of a storyline.

After lunch, participants will be divided into groups to begin writing 10-minute one-act plays. Each group will choose a storyline to base their play.

After dinner, there will be a fun MURDER MYSTERY social event for everyone to participate in hosted by Theatricks’ teen theatre group, the Supporting Cast.

Day Two

On day two, groups will finalize their scripts and turn them in to be judged by Ms. Cantrell. Local artists will be on hand to assist each group by providing information about the selection of props and costumes available for their performances.

After lunch, each group will rehearse and take turns on the Kidd-Key stage, with the assistance of a lighting and sound operator, to discuss technical preparations for their play productions. Groups will also finalize costume selections with the assistance of a local costumer.

The evening’s festivities will take place at The Rialto Theater where all can enjoy an interactive evening at a vintage movie theatre, viewing a classic one-man cowboy show, THE COWBOY AIN’T DEAD YET! (TCA traveling artist). Don’t forget to dress up in your western wear.

Day Three

On day three, all groups will make their final modifications and hold dress rehearsals in preparation for performances on the Kidd-Key Stage.

The culmination of the weekend, of course, will be the performances of the one-act plays. The first performance will begin at 6 p.m. There is no charge for the performances, and the public is invited to attend. At the conclusion of the evening’s performances, awards will be presented for “Best Written Script”, “Best Produced Play”, “Best Actor” and “Best Actress”, “Best Use of Theatrical Elements”, “Most Creative Character Costume”, and “Best Use of Costume Elements” among others.


The STAGES Conference registration fee is $75.00 per registrant and includes participation in all workshops, the six served meals, the opening night social event, the evening at the Rialto, and the opportunity to meet and make new friends and acquaintances. Registration forms can be obtained from Theatricks’ website (www.theatricks.org) or call 903-893-8525.


Guests coming to Sherman but not participating in the conference (parents, younger siblings, etc.), can enjoy a variety of fun activities offered by Sherman’s Downtown Businesses and Museums.


Grayson College theatre presents “Working”

Grayson College theatre presents “Working”

Grayson College theatre presents “Working” April 29 to May 1

People may not always whistle while they work, but Grayson College Theatre Department students sing about jobs and the people who do them during its production of “Working.” The musical runs April 29 through May 1 in Grayson College’s Cruce Stark Auditorium in the Arts & Communication Building on its Main Campus in Denison.

The Tony Award-winning musical follows the lives of everyday people as they tackle their work day.  Grayson College actors bring the characters to life as they deliver their dreams and disappointments in a fun, funny and – at times – poignant meld of song and dance.

From left, Darrion Dockins, Tyler Burns and Jesse Alsup are three of 15 actors playing 40 characters in Grayson College’s production of the musical “Working” April 29 to May 1.

The musical is based on Studs Terkel’s book, “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” which features people from different regions and occupations. Interviews from the book were turned into monologues and songs by Steven Schwartz, composer of “Wicked” and “Godspell,” as well as composers Ina Faso and Gordon Greenberg. It features songs by Schwartz, Susan Birkenhead, Craig Carnelian, Micki Grant, Lin-Manuel Miranda (composer and writer of “Hamilton” now appearing on Broadway, and composer for “In the Heights”), Mary Rogers, and James Taylor.

“Working” kicks off Grayson College’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Day with a performance at 10 a.m. on April 29, and another that evening at 7:30 p.m. Dr. Jeremy McMillen, Grayson College president, gives opening remarks at both performances. Other performances are April 30 at 7:30 p.m., and May 1 at 2 p.m. Tickets are free.

“‘Working’ is Grayson College’s gift to the community in honor of our golden anniversary. We picked this show because it celebrates working people – the people we don’t usually think about who are in the background, just doing their jobs,” said Robin Robinson, Grayson College theatre director and theatre professor. “Obviously, Grayson College is about that. Our degree programs, tech programs, degrees and certificates provide opportunities and celebrate the idea of people working and contributing to their families and communities.”

Denison sophomore Holden Webster directs the musical, a first for him in this genre. He made his directorial debut last year in “Last Call at Chez Mort,” Grayson College’s murder mystery dinner theatre production.

“I’ve been in 14 musicals as an actor, but this is my first to direct,” Webster said. “As a performer, I know how actors think and go about the process of developing a character. This helps me as a director to communicate my vision and to help bring about the best in them as they develop their characters.

“‘Working’ is just plain fun. Its content and the people I’m involved with here have made it one of the best experiences,” he said. “The cast and crew are incredible to work with. They’ve been receptive in doing everything I’ve asked and are bringing great things to the production. The audience is in for a treat.”

While there are 40 characters in all, the production is traditionally performed by much fewer people who portray multiple roles. Of the 15 actors in the musical, Olney freshman Jesse Alsup plays steelworker Mike Dillard, which is the only character that recurs throughout the production.

Grayson College sophomore cast members are: Hunter Malone of Bells; Lydia Foster of Chesterfield, Va.; and Jorge Amador of Princeton. Freshman cast members include: Tyler Burns of Bells; Darrion Dockins of Clarksville; Caitlin Pohland of Corsicana; James Berggren of Denison; Christian Love of Farmersville; Ashley Coffman of Houston; Jamee Rhoades of Sweetwater; Colton Wall of Whitewright; and Luke Brown of Wolfe City. Anna Clarkson, Sherman High School choir director, is a cast member as well.

Robinson also performs in the musical. Her character is a teacher with 40 years of experience, and since Robinson retires from Grayson College in June after a 19-year tenure, Webster thought it would be a great swan-song role for her.

“I’ve acted in a few shows while I’ve been at Grayson College, but I never do it unless I can trust that the student director won’t be intimidated by me,” she said.  “Holden is the first Grayson College student to be in charge of a musical. His experience and maturity definitely played a role in that decision, and he has proven himself more than capable.”

Grayson College theatre professor Thea Albert designed the scenery, which is abstract and features workplace objects that represent more than what they typically do. Katie Gaskill of Savoy, a graduating sophomore, serves as stage manager and choreographer. Grayson College theatre professor Tenna Matthews is technical director and production manager. Bryce Dansby of Denison, also a graduating sophomore, is light designer. It is his responsibility to create the atmosphere of the various vocations with the lighting.

“Katie and Bryce carry a lot of weight in this production because what they’re doing contributes to the overall success of the actors and the production,” Webster said. “It’s an incredible challenge that they’re both performing fantastically well.”

“Working” features a live band to accompany the vocalists. Pam Gauthier-Hamer, a choir director for Sherman ISD, serves as the production’s music director and plays keyboard in the band. Other band members are: Dr. David Tercero, Grayson College music professor, and Brad Roberts, GRAYSON COLLEGE graduate, both on guitar;  and community members Vallerie Farris on keyboard, Frank Steele on percussion, and Gregg Tarvin on guitar.

Three cast members also serve as crew members, including Amador as sound designer, Poland as costume designer, and Love as assistant costume designer. McKinney sophomore Robert Gildner operates the spotlight. Freshmen crew members are: Jordan Harger of Bonham, wardrobe; Colt Schell of Denison, assistant stage manager; Connor Copeland of Howe, mic operator; Devin Anding of Jewett, master electrician and light board operator; Jordan Curry of Sadler, makeup and hair designer; Dwayne Bruce of Tom Bean, assistant stage manager and props; and Trent Rohret of Wolfe City, sound board operator.

“Working” is a 90-minute musical with no intermission. While it’s not a children’s show, it is appropriate for most family members. Tickets are free and reservations are not required. For more information about the musical, contact the GRAYSON COLLEGE Theatre Department at 903-463-8609 or [email protected] .


Spring Break Begins with JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH

Spring Break Begins with JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH

James and the Giant PeachDo you have “Spring Break” plans? Well, let those plans begin with Theatricks production of JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH this weekend!

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH plays Friday and Saturday, March 4 and 5 at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, March 5 and 6 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.theatricks.org or by calling 903-892-8818 or coming by the ticket window at the Honey McGee Playhouse Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 for students and $10 for adults.

Roald Dahl’s unusual story about an orphaned boy who desires to meet some other children is an escape filled adventure that will take you on a journey the likes you have never seen. Along the journey you will meet many strange passengers on the peach, but you will immediately grow to love them as they along with James work together to successfully travel to America.

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH is sponsored by Tree Service Solutions and Nautilus Fitness Centers, and Theatricks 2015-2016 season is sponsored by Stokes Orthodontics and Pediatric Dental Specialists. If you miss this show, it will “bug” you until this summer when Theatricks will perform THE BOXCAR CHILDREN!

Theatricks – Sherman Texas | March 4, 2016