KU Theatre & Dance season to include ‘Sweeney Todd,’ center student creativity

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KU Theatre & Dance will collaborate with the School of Music to present “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” this spring, one highlight of a packed 2023-24 season.

“The season offers a diverse array of theatrical genres and dance forms featuring student performers,” according to the department’s recent season announcement. “Select students will produce, choreograph, direct, design, dramaturg and work the box office this season.”

The season’s theatrical works “will explore themes of social inequalities, belonging and community. Humor and satire will unify several works,” according to the release. “Audience members will have opportunities to witness improvisation, cheer on original student-created works and participate in discussions and receptions.”

The fall season will open with “Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties,” a dark comedy and “provocative exploration of self-expression” by Jen Silverman, according to the release. It will be directed by doctoral student Marzi Ashrafian and feature puppet design by KU graduate, puppeteer and puppet fabricator Spencer Lott, and by painter, sculptor and illustrator Grace Townley.

“The University Dance Company Fall Concert will follow, taking on the theme of ‘mythos’ and featuring ballet, hip hop, contemporary and tap works by faculty members and guest choreographer Logan Pachciarz,” co-founder and co-artistic director of Moving Arts, according to the release, and a repertoire concert of select senior dance majors work will comprise the Fall Senior Showcase.

A new musical and comedic critique, “Milking Christmas,” will close out the fall season. It was composed by Ryan McCall, KU lecturer and accompanist, and written by Friend Dog Studios. Michelle Miller, lecturer in theatre, will direct, with McCall as musical director, according to the release.

“Sweeney Todd” hits the stage in February. The Tony Award-winning musical thriller by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler will open the spring season, and theatre and dance students will perform along with the KU Symphony Orchestra.

“SWEAT,” a “gritty portrayal of working class struggles” by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, will follow in March, according to the release. The drama will be directed by award-winning playwright Darren Canady, who is also professor of English at KU.

Finally, “The University Dance Company will present its Spring Concert featuring high-energy and exceptional work by faculty and select senior dance majors, and the season culminates with the Jayhawk Performance Lab/Spring Senior Showcase, an initiative that underscores the department’s commitment to student-driven work and fosters an environment where they can examine and question societal norms and grow as creators,” according to the release. “The season finale also celebrates diverse dance forms and narratives.”

Here’s the full KU Theatre & Dance calendar for the 2023-24 season:

Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m.; * indicates a 2:30 p.m. matinee. All dates are subject to change.

  • Oct. 6, 7, 8*, 10, 11, 12, 2023 — “Collective Rage,” William Inge Memorial Theatre
  • Nov. 3, 4, 5*, 2023 — University Dance Company Fall Concert, Crafton Preyer-Theatre
  • Nov. 18, 19, 2023 — Fall Senior Showcase, Elizabeth Sherbon Blackbox Theatre
  • Nov. 30, Dec. 2*, 2, 3, 4, 6, 2023 — “Milking Christmas,” William Inge Memorial Theatre
  • Feb. 16, 18*, 20, 22, 2024 — “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” Crafton Preyer-Theatre
  • March 22, 23, 24*, 26, 27, 28, 2024 — “SWEAT,” William Inge Memorial Theatre
  • April 5, 6, 7*, 2024 — University Dance Company Spring Concert, Crafton Preyer-Theatre
  • April 25, 26, 27, 28*, 2024 — Jayhawk Performance Lab/Spring Dance Showcase, Elizabeth Sherbon Blackbox Theatre

Individual tickets and season subscriptions can be purchased at kutheatre.com, by calling 785-864-3982, or by visiting the box office in Murphy Hall from noon to 5 p.m. on weekdays starting Wednesday, Aug. 23.

Discounted tickets are available for KU faculty, staff, students and retirees, as well as groups. In addition, “The Jack B. and Judy L. Wright Student Ticket Endowment is a resource for KU and Haskell Indian Nations University students needing assistance attending shows. Contact Jim Dick, managing director, at 785-864-3985,” according to the release.

For more information on the Department of Theatre & Dance, check out its website at theatredance.ku.edu.

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