Current VPA News

By Patrick Finlon

The Department of Drama in Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts is pleased to announce its 2014-15 season. Offerings will include the passionate and powerful musical "Parade" with music by Jason Robert Brown, the comic "Stepping Out" about the friendships and joy found in an adult tap class, the 60s era hit musical "Hairspray" (co-produced with Syracuse Stage), two couples grappling with relationships in the witty comedy "Lips Together, Teeth Apart," William Shakespeare’s profound comedy "Measure for Measure" and the laugh-out-loud Tony Award-winning musical "Avenue Q."

Season Tickets are $89/$99 for six shows, now available in the Box Office at 315-443-3275 or in person Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 820 East Genesee Street.

There is one notable change in scheduling. Opening night performances in the 2014-15 season will occur on Saturday nights. This will allow for preview performances on Fridays, giving students a chance to fine-tune each production in response to having a live audience. This model more closely resembles the process of creating live theater that students will encounter when working professionally. Season tickets for preview performances will be available at the discounted price of $89 for six shows.

Most productions in the 2014-15 season will be performed in the Storch Theater in the Syracuse Stage/Drama Complex. "Hairspray," a co-production with Syracuse Stage, will be performed in the Archbold Theater. Shakespeare’s "Measure for Measure" will be performed in the Loft Theater, an intimate 60-seat theater with general admission seating, located on the second floor of the complex.

As in years past, guiding the students’ work will be faculty directors and faculty mentors. Both faculty designers and student designers will create concepts for scenery, costumes, lighting and sound, and all of the design work will be produced and supported by the professional artists and shops at Syracuse Stage.


Book by Alfred Uhry
Music by Jason Robert Brown
Co-conceived and Directed on Broadway by Harold Prince
Directed by Marie Kemp
Musical Direction by Brian Cimmet
Choreography by Andrea Leigh-Smith
October 10 – 19
Opening Night: October 11

Daring, innovative, and bold, "Parade" won well-earned Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Score in 2000. The tragic, true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man wrongly accused of murder in 1913 Georgia, serves as the basis for a tender love story. As Frank seethes with the injustice of his conviction, his wife Lucille finds untapped reserves of love and strength to become his greatest champion. A passionate and powerful work of musical theater.

Stepping Out
By Richard Harris
Directed by Timothy Davis-Reed
November 14—23
Opening Night: November 15

This comic gem of a play follows the ups and downs of nine women and one man who meet each week in a church hall for a beginning tap class. Led by Mavis, a patient and talented dancer and accompanied by the acerbic Mrs. Fraser on piano, the students struggle to learn basic tap with varying degrees of success. Throughout, playwright Richard Harris explores the shifts in the lives of the characters as they work together to rehearse and perform a polished routine at a charity fund-raiser. This delightful play ran for three years when it premiered in London in the 1980s and remains an insightful look at friendship and the joy that can be found in "Stepping Out," if only once a week.

Book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan
Music by Marc Shaiman
Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
Directed by Bill Fennelly
Musical Direction by Brian Cimmet
Choreography by David Wanstreet
Co-produced with Syracuse Stage
November 28—January 4

Bubbling with joy and 60s era music and dance, "Hairspray" delights with the pleasures of a classic American musical. Tracy Turnblad is a teen whose life revolves around dancing on the Corny Collins TV show. Who knew that a sock-hop, teeny-bop TV show could be a catalyst for integration? You can’t stop the beat, and truth be told, you won’t want to once the all-singing and dancing cast takes the stage. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical. Bill Fennelly ("A Midsummer Night’s Dream" 2013) returns to direct.

Lips Together, Teeth Apart
By Terrence McNally
Directed by Gerardine Clark
February 20—March 1
Opening Night: February 21

Playwright Terrence McNally excels at making wild and witty comedy out of very serious and thoughtful matters. In this 1991 off-Broadway triumph, two couples grapple with the mundane (burgers and kites) and the momentous (illness and infidelity) as they try (very hard) to celebrate the 4th of July at a beach house. A touch of Chekhov with the sly wickedness of McNally. What’s up with that bug zapper?

Measure for Measure
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Celia Madeoy
March 27—April 12
Opening Night: March 28
Performed in the Loft Theater

Hypocrites, beware! Such is the matter of this profound and intriguing late comedy by Shakespeare. When Duke Vincentio of Vienna inexplicably hands over power to Lord Angelo, a man of self-professed puritanism, he lays a trap that ensnares the falsely virtuous and rewards the just and true. Like most Shakespearean comedies, the course to the truth is neither smooth nor easy, but it is filled with engaging characters and extraordinary events, and even concludes with multiple marriages—however unlikely that may sometimes seem.

Avenue Q
Music and Lyrics, Original Concept and Animation Design by Robert Lopez
Music and Lyrics, Original Concept by Jeff Marx
Book by Jeff Whitty
Directed and Musically Directed by Brian Cimmet
Choreography by Andrea Leigh-Smith
April 24—May 9
Opening Night: April 25

Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book, "Avenue Q" is part flesh (people), part felt (puppets) and packed with heart. This long-running Broadway hit is a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. There, he meets Kate (the girl next door), Rod (the Republican), Trekkie (the internet-surfing monster), Lucy the Slut (and proud of it), and other colorful types who help Princeton finally discover his purpose in life. A little bit naughty, a lot a bit nice, and with enough satire to satisfy the monster in all of us.