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2016 Kansas Repertory Theatre tackles two kinds of mind-benders

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

LAWRENCE — With one play featuring a bachelor with an invisible rabbit as a best friend and the other a husband convincing his wife she is losing her mind, this summer’s Kansas Repertory Theatre is sure to entertain. With a mixture of professional and student actors, “Harvey” will endear and make audiences laugh, while “Angel Street” will tingle spines and cause suspense.

“Harvey” performances are 7:30 p.m. July 15, 16, 27 and 29, and 2:30 p.m. July 17 and 31 on Stage Too! in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre at Murphy Hall. “Angel Street” performances are 7:30 p.m. July 22, 23, 26, 28 and 30 and 2:30 p.m. July 24 in the William Inge Memorial Theatre at Murphy Hall.

Kansas Repertory Theatre stands out among other summer theatre programming through the collaboration of professional and student actors working together to make the plays come to life.

“It is very exciting and satisfying to watch the Equity actors take our KU students under their artistic wings and bring out the very best in them as actors and theatre-makers,” said Peter Zazzali, assistant professor of theatre and “Angel Street” director. “Through this collaborative environment the pros function as de facto mentors to our students, which is exactly what KS Rep is designed to do.”

This summer’s theatrical collaboration includes several well-known local actors and directors. John Rensenhouse, guest director of “Harvey,” is a Kansas City native and professional actor who has worked in both New York and Los Angeles. Rensenhouse’s credentials include multiple seasons with the prestigious Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Broadway tour of “The Lion King” and the soap opera “The Edge of Night.” As a director, he has worked for University of Missouri-Kansas City, the Unicorn Theatre and the Kansas City Actor’s Theatre, where his production of “Long Day’s Journey into Night” was picked by the Kansas City Star as “finest show of 2013.” Kansas Repertory Theatre’s current season also features Lawrence actors and alumni Ric Averill, Jeanne Averill, Doug Weaver and Rebecca Ford O’Keefe. 

“Harvey” tells the story of a man who introduces his best friend – a 6-and-a-half-foot, imaginary rabbit – to family and friends. His family is about to stage an intervention when things go hilariously awry.

The Victorian thriller “Angel Street” is full of twists and turns as the story of a husband systematically driving his wife insane unravels. This melodrama is the classic hero saving a victim from the deadly clutches of an utter villain.

The mission of Kansas Repertory Theatre is to develop the artistry of KU students faculty and community members and provide Lawrence with the opportunity to see professional repertory theatre. It includes professional actors, bachelor's and master's degree actors from nationally recognized training programs, as well as a select group of KU students. The productions share the same cast members but are distinguished by designs, directorial concepts and texts.

The company of “Harvey” includes Bri Woods, Overland Park senior, as Myrtle Mae Simmons; Abby Sharp, Rossville senior, as Ruth Kelly, R.N.; Jake Dutton, Wichita senior, stage manager; and Pamela Rodriguez-Montero, Heredia, Costa Rica graduate student, costume and lighting designer.

The creative team of “Harvey” includes John Rensenhouse, visiting director; and Kelly Vogel, visiting assistant theatre professor (KU alumna), scenic designer.

“Harvey” welcomes the following guest artists: Doug Weaver, Lawrence, director of theatrical arts, Bishop Seabury Academy, as William Chumley, M.D.; Rebecca Ford O’Keefe, theatre alumna and Lawrence actor, as Betty Chumley; Jeanne Averill, Lawrence equity actor, as Veta Louise Simmons; Daniel Sakamoto-Wengel, Guthrie BFA Acting Program alumnus, guest actor, as Lyman Sanderson, M.D.; Joseph Fournier, Kansas City, Missouri, actor, as Duane Wilson; Michael Samuel Kaplan, New York, New York, equity actor, as Elwood P. Dowd; Ric Averill, Lawrence, artistic director of performing arts, Lawrence Arts Center, as Judge Omar Gaffney; Janice Lee Craft, Lawrence, KU theatre lecturer, as Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet; and Kevin Siess, Lawrence actor and 2016 theatre alumnus, as E.J. Lofgren.

The company of “Angel Street” includes Bri Woods, Overland Park senior, as Nancy; Abby Sharp, Rossville senior, as Mrs. Manningham; Jenifer Cooper, Kansas City, Missouri, graduate student, stage manager; and Leah Mazur, Cache, Oklahoma, graduate student, costume and lighting designer.

The “Angel Street” creative team includes Peter Zazzali, director; Dennis Christilles, associate professor of theatre and University Theatre artistic director, sound designer; and Mark Reaney, theatre professor, scenic designer.

“Angel Street” welcomes the following guest artists: Gail Trottier, KU theatre costume shop cutter/draper, as Elizabeth; Jeanne Averill, Lawrence equity actor, as Detective Sergeant Rough; Daniel Sakamoto-Wengel, Guthrie BFA Acting Program alumnus, guest actor, as policeman and Mr. Manningham (understudy); Joseph Fournier, Kansas City, Missouri, actor, dialect coach; Michael Samuel Kaplan, New York, New York, Equity actor, as Mr. Manningham; and Kevin Seiss, Lawrence actor and 2016 theatre alumnus, as policeman and assistant director.

“Harvey” is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service Inc., New York. “Angel Street” is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Inc.

Tickets for the Kansas Repertory Theatre shows are on sale now at KU ticket offices and online at www.kutheatre.com. Tickets are also available by calling the University Theatre, (785) 864-3982, and the Lied Center, (785) 864-ARTS. Tickets are $18 for adults, $17 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff, and $10 for students and children.

Kansas Repertory Theatre is a production of the KU University Theatre. The University Theatre is partially funded by the KU Student Senate Activity Fee. Kansas Repertory Theatre is sponsored by Truity Credit Union.

For more information on the Department of Theatre visit www.theatre.ku.edu. For more information on the University Theatre, visit www.KUTheatre.com. Follow KU Theatre on Twitter and Facebook.


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