URI Theatre announces 2008-2009 season

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KINGSTON, R.I. — September 25, 2008 — The University of Rhode Island Theatre selections for the 2008-2009 season offer something for everyone. The prize-winning department will again perform its popular productions in the Robert E. Will Theatre or J Studio of the Fine Arts Center, Kingston campus. Here’s the lineup:

•SMALL TRAGEDY: An extraordinarily probing, powerful, and an often amusing play, set in Cambridge and Boston and New York City, which follows six young people–three men and three women–discussing justice, denial and the acceptance of responsibility as they rehearse an adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. They become friends and lovers during the mid to late 1990s as they witness how the themes of Greek tragedy merge with some truths about the Bosnian War to impact irrevocably on their personal lives. Written by Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss, Reckless), the play captured a 2004 Obie Award for New York’s Best New Off-Broadway Play.

Performances: Oct. 9 through 11 and 16 through 18, 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 12 and 19 at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $14 for general admission, $10 for seniors, URI faculty/staff, and $8 for students.

•OKLAHOMA! Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first collaboration remains, in many ways, their most innovative, setting the standards and establishing the rules of musical theater still being followed or broken today. The original 1943 production won a special Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the film won two Academy Awards, and the 1999 National Theatre revival won four Olivier Awards including “Best Musical Production”. With its 2,248 performances in New York and the record-breaking runs of its road companies, Oklahoma! earned the largest audiences in American musical history. Some of these records were later surpassed, but its importance in opening a new era in American musical theatre will never be challenged. As Rhode Island faces a complex time in its own history, URI Theatre is proud to look back at a period when community spirit and down-to-earth American ingenuity united a people and a place…Oklahoma!

Performances: Nov. 13 through 15 and 20 through 22, 2008, 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 16 and 23, 3 p.m. Tickets are $18 general, $14 seniors, URI faculty/staff, and $12 students.

•THE FOREIGNER: Set in a fishing lodge in rural Georgia, the comedy revolves around two of its guests, Charlie Baker and Englishman Froggy LeSuere. Charlie is so pathologically shy that he is unable to speak. As way of explanation, Froggy claims his companion is the native of an exotic country who does not understand a word of English. Before long, Charlie finds himself privy to assorted secrets and scandals freely discussed in front of him by the other visitors. This fuels the non-stop hilarity of the play, and sets up the wildly funny climax in which things go uproariously awry for the “bad guys” and the “good guys” emerge triumphant. The play by Larry Shue won two Obie Awards and two Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best New American Play and Best Off-Broadway Production.

Performances: Feb. 26-28 and March 5 through 7,2009, 7:30 p.m. and March 1 and 8 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $14 general admission, $10 for seniors, URI faculty/staff and $8 for students. The Sunday, March 1 performance is dedicated to the memory of Thomas R. Pezzullo, a former vice president for University Relations at URI and frequent actor who died in 1992 at the age of 49. All proceeds from that performance will go directly to the Thomas R. Pezzullo Memorial Scholarship Fund. The Theatre Department was pleased to award scholarships from the fund this year to four theater students: Maria Hyde, Rachael Nadeau, Max Ponticelli and Ben Rose.

•THE MERCHANT OF VENICE by William Shakespeare is a fascinating tale set in the Venice of Renaissance Italy conveyed with exquisite poetry. Actually it encompasses two stories: one is of love and marriage; the other of usury, prejudice and revenge. The stories feature two remarkable characters: Portia an educated, strong heroine and Shylock, a moneylender who is a Jew. How their stories and those of her suitors and his daughter converge in a Venetian court of law mesmerize us with its ingenious solution to an astonishing dilemma and pose some of the same moral and social questions with which we struggle today.

Performances: April 16 through 18 and 23 through 25, 2009, 7:30 p.m. and April 19 and 26 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $14 general admission, $10 for seniors, URI faculty/staff and $8 for students.

For reservations call the URI Theatre Box Office at 401-874-5843. For group rate information, call 401-874-2712. For mailing list or additional questions, call 401-874-5921 or 5922.

URI’s Theatre Department encourages volunteers to help with its programs. Call 874-5922 for more information. Download the Theatre Department’s flyer of the complete season.