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School of Fine and Performing Arts Opens the Curtain with Plays and Musicals

By David Pavlak ’13, MA ’14

The School of Fine and Performing Arts took to the stage once already in late February and will be returning two more times to put on a variety of plays and musicals before the semester ends.

Feb. 27 through March 2, director Trent Blanton showcased the classic play Our Town, a three-act story about average citizens from Grover’s Corner in the early part of the 20th century. The play was first performed in McCarter Theater in Princeton, N.J., and just celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2013.

Reasons to Be Pretty, directed by Miriam Mills, is the next play to take center stage from April 10 to 13. The play, which was nominated for a Tony Award for best play, focuses on the modern-day obsession with physical appearance. The show will take place in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater.

“We want our students to grow and develop so that they will be able to perform in many varied characters and styles,” Mills said about the actors and actresses. “We have so many extraordinary students with amazing abilities that we are able to put on musicals, such as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, that require serious dancing skills and plays like Reasons to Be Pretty, which require serious acting skills. What is so wonderful is that we have students who are able to do both. We have some of the finest talent you could find in any theatre program in the nation.”

The final production to reach the stage, Merrily We Roll Along, is a musical directed by Nathan Hurwitz, with choreography by Robin Lewis and musical direction by Louis Goldberg.

Running from April 24 to 27, the musical features Franklin Shepard, a once-talented Broadway musical composer who abandons his songwriting career to venture into producing Hollywood movies. The show will take place in The Yvonne Theater.

“As directors in university theatre, we choose to work on plays and musicals that speak to us, that have some substantial relevance to our lives,” Hurwitz says. “Along the way, through the process of bringing these plays and musicals to the stage, we investigate them with our actors, designers, stage hands and other collaborators – and in doing so, we become aware of the way in which these texts touch on all of their lives.” 

Tickets for both shows are $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and students.

For more information about dates, times or tickets, visit www.rider.edu/arts

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