Comedic timing and poetic rhyming: NGU Theatre’s upcoming shows and projects

Comedic timing and poetic rhyming: NGU Theatre’s upcoming shows and projects

Photo by Samantha Meyeres

Samantha Meyeres, Staff Writer

The 2024-2025 school year holds lots of excitement for the North Greenville University theater department. With two musicals and two plays, along with a sitcom project in participation with the School of Communication, they have a busy year ahead of them.

“Unreal City”

To start off the season, the theater is taking on an original musical written by NGU alumni, Michael Thomas, called “Unreal City”. The musical will be directed by Thomas’ wife, Abigail. 

Thomas based his musical off of the poem “Wasteland” by T.S. Eliot. Assistant Dean of the School of the Arts, Amy Dunlap said it is a dark, gritty poem that focuses on the struggles we face in life.

“It’s about the difficulties of life and how a man can despair and be lost but he’s always searching for hope, always trying to find God, but not always looking in the right places” she said.

“Unreal City” will feature four NGU students on stage and a collection of students and staff behind the scenes. Dunlap said that she hopes to get multiple alumni involved in the process from all aspects. The goal is for this to be an inclusive experience for students, alumni and staff. 

Auditions have already taken place and rehearsals will begin with the 2024 fall semester. The show will take the stage Sept. 19-21 and 26-28.

“Richard III”

The second show of the semester is the classic Shakespearean tragedy, “Richard III”. And with 15-16 cast members, it will be one of the larger productions that the theater department puts on.

This play will be co-directed and co-designed by Dunlap and Theatre professor Bess Park. The two are already in meetings working through design features and ideas.

Dunlap said she is very excited to have the opportunity to do this play this upcoming year because NGU Theatre only puts on a Shakespeare play every other year, and she feels that “Richard III” sits well in the context of this fall.

“It’s a very timely piece. It’s about politics and power and kind of tricking or swaying the masses into supporting a political candidate for power, even though they are not the best person for the job and they’re actually very corrupt” Dunlap said.

The auditions for “Richard III” will happen towards the end of August and those auditioning will have to prepare a Shakespearean monologue. 

“The monologue is so I can hear how they handle Shakespearean language and whether or not they actually understand what they’re saying,” Dunlap said.

The performances will be November 14-16 and 21-23.

“You Can’t Take It With You”

The third project for the NGU Theatre department will bring a more lighthearted tone to the stage. “You Can’t Take It With You” is a comedic play featuring an idiosyncratic family full of eccentricities, charm and wit, and their encounter with a more conservative family.

Dunlap shared that she thinks that “You Can’t Take It With You” will be a nice, uplifting play to add in since the others all deal with heavier subjects.

“It’s just a lot of fun. And a lot of different crazy characters for actors to have fun with,” Dunlap said.

While auditions for this play will take place before students leave for Christmas break, rehearsals will not begin until January. This play will once again be a larger production, with a cast of around 15-16 people.

With around two months of rehearsal, the show will be Feb. 20-22, 27-28 and March 1.

Sitcom Project

The next project for NGU Theatre is one like they’ve never done before: a sitcom project with NGU’s School of Communication.

Associate Dean of the School of Communication Randall King has done a sitcom class at two schools previously and said he feels confident this will be a good opportunity for all students involved.

Acting for television differs greatly from stage acting. Both Dunlap and King said that it will be a beneficial experience for the students writing, acting and producing.

Professor of Communication Kelechi Benet will be teaching the scriptwriting class in the fall where students will work together to write the script. And Communication Professor Andrew Stevens will teach the production class in the spring where students will work to plan, record and edit the show.

The sitcom will be recorded with a live audience on March 12 and 13.

“The Heath”

The final show to round out the 2024-25 school year will be a two person show called “The Heath”.

Written by Lauren Gunderson, “The Heath” is an autobiographical musical about a girl, her grandfather, and their connection despite differences.

This performance will serve as the senior project for theater major Alyse Barrett. The role of the grandfather will be played by her father, Tom Barrett. Angela Barrett, Alyse’s mother, will have a role in the music aspect, making it a family affair.

Dunlap said that she thinks it will be a sweet project and touch a lot of people.

“It’s a beautiful, poetic piece,” she shared.

Since the cast is so small, it will require less rehearsal than a larger production so it fits nicely into the theater’s tight spring schedule.

The show will take place on April 10-12 and 14-15.

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