The wait is over

Feb 222006
Authors: Amanda Schank

Tickets can be purchased at the Info Too desk in the Lory Student Center, at the University Center for the Arts, or by calling (970) 491-4849.

Throughout his years as a student of the graduating class of 1993, CSU promised Jeremy Holm and all in the theater department a new stage. Twelve years later that promise became a reality, and students, faculty and alumni are welcoming it with a full-scale production of "Cyrano de Bergerac."

Holm is one of three alumni who returned to CSU to collaborate with the theater department on a production meant to showcase the long-awaited University Theatre at 1400 Remington Street. "Cyrano de Bergerac" opens at 8 p.m. and continues through Saturday, and again March 2, 3 and 4 with a matinee performance March 5.

The production is actually the second to show at the new complex; "Waiting for Godot" initially christened the theater at its Nov. 3, 2005, opening. While "Cyrano de Bergerac" will not be the first performance in the University Theatre, it will be the first to use all aspects of the venue.

"'Waiting for Godot' was the first, but it was minimal everything," said Nathan Young, a performing cast member and junior theater and art major. "This show we've got pyrotechnics, we've got fog, we've got lights and we've got a hole in the floor, a large cast, a difficult script.

"'Waiting for Godot' was something that was there to open the space – this is the grand opening."

The play of romance and heroics was originally written in 19th-century verse by Edmond Rostand. Audiences will see an anachronistic version however, as 21st-century references and phrases intertwine with authentic cadence throughout the play, allowing audiences to connect with its timely and underlying themes, said director Laura Jones.

"It will help the audience care about the characters," she said. "It's more fun, more familiar and they can apply it to their own experiences."

The 300-seat University Theatre is an entity of the Bohemian Complex at the University Center for the Arts. Also part of the Bohemian Complex is a music hall, additional theater spaces, including a scene shop and dressing and green rooms, and a separate Studio Theatre, which replaces the Black Box Theatre of Johnson Hall.

Jones, who is also director of the theater program, said plans for a new facility have been in the works since before she started working for CSU 12 years ago. Progress has been slow due to money issues, a theater's need for a custom-designed building and the administration waiting for the theater program to gain recognition, among other things.

"For years we heard about a new facility," Jones said. "We've invited alumni back so they have the opportunity to see that it happened – it wasn't just a pipe dream, it actually happened."

The large-scale production includes the talents of three alumni, Holm, Dave Guard (1996) and Jade Winters (1999), to offer assistance with acting, set design and costume design, respectively.

Holm, who has acted on "Guiding Light," "Law and Order," at various regional theaters and now lives in New York, is cast as the title role of the play. Jones said the alumni involvement is nothing new to theater, but hasn't occurred at CSU for many years.

Bringing alumni back to the production allows students a chance to work with professionals and develop networking possibilities for life after college. They have also offered their experience to students by guest teaching in various classes.

Compared to CSU, alumni involvement is much higher at schools with notable theater departments, Holm said. He added that many times it can be invaluable to students.

"It's not for a lack of talented people coming out of CSU, but we need to do a better job at helping our own – giving back to the place that got us started," Holm said. "There are all these people coming out of the university now that if we had better alumni awareness they would all have jobs in the real world."

With the new theater in full use and students of all ages and skills involved in its full-scale opening production, Jones said the stage is set for nothing but growth in both the caliber of work and amount of local and national credibility for the theater department.

"A lack of facilities is something that's held us back for a long time," Jones said. "(The new theater) is a magnet that will attract people now.

"It's a springboard for the future in terms of making a quantum leap forward in quality."



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