The Theatre Arts Department of Ouachita Baptist University will present the children’s show Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr. as their first production of the 2011-2012 season. Performances will be held in Ouachita’s Verser Theater Sept. 22-24 and 26-27 at 7 p.m. with a matinee performance Sept. 25 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 each.
The stage version of the Emmy Award-winning Saturday morning cartoon series follows a young teacher named Tom who nervously anticipates his first day in the classroom. When he turns on his TV for a few minutes, he is swept away by a flood of his own “Schoolhouse Rock” memories. Tom says, “In all my years of serious training to be a teacher, they forgot one important thing … that learning should be fun!”
“I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to bring the fun-filled, exciting and educational experience of Schoolhouse Rock to a new generation,” said OBU Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Mary Handiboe, who is directing the production. “I’m also excited that my generation will have an opportunity to revisit the music that made learning so much fun in the ’70s.” Handiboe has been involved with nearly 60 productions at Ouachita as an actor, director, designer or faculty mentor. Mary Worthen, assistant professor emerita of music, will partner with Handiboe to serve as music director for Schoolhouse Rock.
A free show will be performed for Peake Elementary students on the mornings of Thursday, Sept. 22, and Friday, Sept. 23. “I feel they will definitely enjoy it,” said Heather White, a junior musical theatre major from Houston, Texas, who plays Dori in the play. “Even if the children we perform for have never heard [the songs], they will immediately love them because of the energy behind them.”
Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr. was originally conceived and directed by Scott Ferguson in Chicago. The book is also by Ferguson along with Kyle Hall and George Keating. Music and lyrics are by Lynn Ahrens, Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg, Kathy Mandry, George Newall and Tom Yohe.
The cast of Schoolhouse Rock, Live! Jr. includes: C.J. Bernard, a sophomore theatre major from Sherwood, Ark., as Tom; Ben Perry, a sophomore musical theatre major from North Little Rock, Ark., as George; Gemma Guiomard, a sophomore musical theatre and studio art double major from DeSoto, Texas, as Shulie; Shay Michael, a senior musical theatre major from Grapevine, Texas, as Jo; Amanda Murray, a junior musical theatre major from Racine, Wis., as Dina; and Heather White as Dori.
Daniel Inouye, assistant professor of theatre arts, serves as costume designer for the show, and Eric Phillips, professor of theatre arts, serves as scenic designer and technical director. Garrett Whitehead, a sophomore musical theatre major from Cleburne, Texas, and Kayla Esmond, a sophomore musical theatre major from Burleson, Texas, serve as co-choreographers; Esmond also appears in the chorus. Jordan Miller, a sophomore musical theatre major from Rockwall, Texas, serves as stage manager with Ben Stidham, a freshman theatre major from Dallas, Texas, as assistant stage manager.
Members of the chorus include: Gabi Baltzley, a sophomore musical theatre major from Little Rock, Ark.; Jeremy Elliott, a freshman theatre major from Longview, Texas; Grace Johnson, a senior vocal performance major from Tyler, Texas; Jacob Kirchoff, a freshman musical theatre major from Houston, Texas; Nicole Mattson, a sophomore musical theatre major from Rowlett, Texas; Cody Myers, a sophomore musical theatre and psychology double major from Van Buren, Ark.; Robby Taylor, a freshman musical theatre major from Harriman, Tenn.; Jalin C. Wesley, a freshman musical theatre major from Little Rock, Ark.; and Julia Williams, a junior musical theatre major from Carthage, Texas.
Several students will also serve as lead members of the crew. Bekah Hall, a sophomore theatre and mass communications double major from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and Michelle Lackey, a junior musical theatre major from Decatur, Texas, serve as publicity crew heads. Betsy Wilson, a sophomore musical theatre major from Fairmont, Neb., is the house manager. Serving as properties crew heads are Brooke Ault, a senior musical theatre major from Little Rock, Ark., and Jillian Kaniss, a sophomore psychology major from Texarkana, Texas. Tyler Herron, a junior theatre major from Rosston, Ark., will run sound and build multi-media projection with Rudy Jones, a senior theatre and English double major from Smackover, Ark. Jones will also run the light board and is the production’s master electrician. Costume crew heads are Lacey Johnson, a sophomore theatre and history double major from Little Rock, Ark., and Kathryn Kellogg, a senior musical theatre major also from Little Rock, Ark. Alison Johnson, a junior musical theatre major from Shreveport, La., is the makeup crew head.
Tickets may be purchased at the Jones Performing Arts Center Box Office weekdays from 1-5 p.m. and one hour before show times. Tickets may also be purchased with credit card by phone or online at www.obu.edu/boxoffice. For more information, call the box office at 870-245-5555 during regular box office hours. Also, each current OBU student may receive one free ticket to the show by presenting his or her OBU ID at the box office.
By Lacey Brooks