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Summer Theatre Shows

Over the five decades of its existence, the Summer Theatre Program has put on more than one hundred different shows. Some of the more popular shows have been performed multiple times. The database accessible to the right provides information about these shows and when they were performed.

As Kevin Neuharth noted in an interview, the Summer Theatre show lineup differs from the academic season at MSU in one major way: the academic season is geared toward educating students in the full range of theatre, whereas the Summer Theatre Program is geared toward shows that are popular with the audience.

Program cover and photos from performance of "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You"

The 1984 cast of Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, the panel that discussed the show, and the show's program cover

 

 

The types of shows performed during the academic season expose students to a wide variety of genres and playwrights. Students considering graduate school and performing careers need this broad range of experience. This sometimes includes controversial shows, such as Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All for You, a play performed at MSC in 1984. A panel was put together to discuss the content of the play following the performances, opening up debate as to whether this play was strictly satirical or was harmful to Catholicism.

 

"Shrek: The Musical," 2013

Daniel Johnson as Donkey and Ryan Haider as Shrek in a 2013 performance of Shrek The Musical

 

 

The Summer Theatre Program, on the other hand, puts more emphasis upon performing the types of shows that will attract an audience. Indeed, each year Summer Theatre encourages audience members to provide input into the selection of shows for the next season.

The trend in recent years has been three musicals and one non-musical play. In the earliest years of Summer Theatre, practically all of the plays performed were musicals.  Tom Turner had faith that musical shows would draw in audiences, and continued to schedule them as the majority of the performances.

 

 

Dan Dammel in a 1995 Summer Theatre performance of "Noises Off"

Dan Dammel performs in Noises Off in 1995.  Characters being caught half-dressed is a common characteristic of farces.

 

 

 

 

 

The non-musical shows offered during Summer Theatre usually are some type of comedy.  Farces are popular choices for these shows.  Kevin Neuharth describes the farce as the underbelly of comedy, or comedy without a lesson. Nothing in a farce is truly resolved or worthwhile; it offers highly exaggerated and improbable situations that are just entertaining to watch. As Neuharth says, a farce involves a lot of slamming doors and mistaken identities, and operates at a frantic pace.