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2018-2019 Theatre UCF season explores fantasy, adventure

photoBeginning with the inaugural Pegasus PlayLab summer workshops, taking a turn to an underground anime club and Dungeons & Dragons, and ending with the classic Titanic for UCF Celebrates the Arts 2019, Theatre UCF’s next season has something for everyone.

Theatre UCF, part of the UCF School of Performing Arts, explores current society and classic literature in its 2018-19 season. This is the second season planned by artistic director Julia Listengarten and it includes plays and musicals that are rarely produced in Central Florida.

Listengarten is a professor of Theatre in the UCF School of Performing Arts and stepped into the role of artistic director in fall 2016. “This year’s season contains an exciting combination of plays and musicals that range from the classical repertoire to contemporary works,” she says. “Our selection process continues to reflect the Theatre department’s mission of exposing students to various theatrical genres and styles during their four-year cycle at UCF.”

Listengarten wanted to focus on current issues that our society grapples with, while maintaining that exposure to various styles and genres, and was able to do that via a retelling of a classic American novel, an adaptation of a Gilbert and Sullivan musical, and modern plays that see inanimate objects whimsically come to life.

“As we continue to offer a balance of classical and contemporary theatre, we are also thrilled to focus on new play development. We believe that the wide range of the upcoming season will provide both educational an entertaining opportunities to our audiences and students,” says Listengarten.

The summer season begins in June with the inaugural Pegasus PlayLab, a new summer theatre festival dedicated to developing new plays by emerging playwrights. Running June 2-June 24, three new plays will be workshopped as staged readings on the Black Box stage, offering the opportunity to be involved in the play development process. The playwrights will be on campus for the duration of their play's production, workshopping in real-time with the cast and crew. For the Sunday performance of each of the workshop readings, audience members are invited to join the cast and crew for conversations with the playwright themselves.

A comedy, Intuitive Men by Sofya Levitsky-Weitz and directed by Cynthia White, UCF directing professor and Director of New Play Development at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, opens the festival and runs June 2-3. Intuitive Men follows two men who communicate through thoughts in an intuitive yoga class, increasingly questioning their own shame, self-worth and pride.

He Did It by Rachel Lynett and directed by Michael Wainstein runs June 9-10. A drama about weighing options, He Did It follows two friends, Ada and Lex, who know Jefferson raped their friend but need him for their dreams of success and fame to be realized. Ada and Lex must decide if they can alienate their friends for the sake of their careers, and if they can excuse a horrendous crime done by an artistic “genius.”

Bathsheba’s Psalms (fully titled Bathsheba’s Psalms, Or A Woman of Unusual Beauty Taking A Bath) by April Ranger and directed by Cynthia White will run June 16-17. A raucous and wild retelling of the biblical myth of David and Bathsheba’s romance with Bathsheba’s voice front and center. Both hilarious and sensual, the play is an explosive journey through time immemorial, upending several genres and tropes on female beauty, power, consent and desire.

Concluding Pegasus PlayLab’s summer run, Human Error by Eric Pfeffinger and directed by Belinda Boyd will round out the festival as a fully staged Main Stage production running June 14-24 and will return August 23 through 26 to kick off the fall semester. After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, a couple is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now two very different couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships.

The first production of the regular season, She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen, runs from September 20-30, 2018 in the Black Box. The story follows Agnes Evans as she leaves her childhood home in Ohio following the death of her teenage sister, Tilly. When Agnes finds Tilly’s Dungeons & Dragons notebook, however, she stumbles into a journey of discovery and action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was Tilly’s refuge. She Kills Monsters will be directed by David Reed.

The fall musical, Hot Mikado, an adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, opens in the Main Stage in October. This adaptation, running October 11-21, is a hilarious tale taking place in an anime club, where, despite life-or-death stakes, characters still find time to tap their toes and do their fair share of scatting. Hot Mikado combines Japanese design with popular American song and dance. In a land where laws sentence people to death for almost any indiscretion, jazz, blues and gospel are spoken fluently. Hot Mikado will be directed by Earl D. Weaver.

Rounding off the fall season is a play adapted from a 1937 John Steinbeck novel of the same name. Of Mice and Men, runs November 8-18 in the Black Box. The play follows two drifters, George and his friend Lennie, with delusions of living off the "fat of the land," as they have just arrived at a ranch to work for enough money to buy their own place. But when a ranch boss' promiscuous wife is found dead in the barn with a broken neck, it's obvious that Lennie, albeit accidentally, killed her. Of Mice and Men will be directed by Mark Brotherton.

To start the spring semester, Timberlake Wertenbaker’s play Our Country’s Good will be performed on the Main Stage. Winner of the Laurence Olivier Play of the Year Award in 1988, this play follows a young married lieutenant who is directing rehearsals of the first play ever to be staged in 1789 Australia. Our Country’s Good runs January 24-February 3, 2019 and will be directed by Kate Ingram.

Inspired by the life and stories of Polish writer Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles runs in the Black Box February 21-March 3, 2019. The Street of Crocodiles is an endlessly shifting mirage where people become birds, books fly through the air and Death collects train tickets. Theatre UCF artistic director, Julia Listengarten, will direct with movement direction by Christopher Niess.

UCF will return to Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for the fifth annual UCF Celebrates the Arts in April. More details will be released in January 2019.

The spring musical, Titanic, will be a part of UCF Celebrates the Arts. With story and book by Peter Stone and music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, the five-time Tony Award winning musical will be running April 5-6, 2019. It will be directed by the Director of the UCF School of Performing Arts, Michael Wainstein.

Tickets for performances on the UCF campus are available for $20 to the general public, and $10 for students and those with a valid UCF I.D. Tickets can be purchased online at theatre.ucf.edu, by phone at 407-823-1500 or at the box office on campus. Season subscriptions are also available.

On opening night of every Theatre UCF production on the UCF campus, audience members are invited to join the cast and production team for a post-show reception. Please check theatre.ucf.edu for announcements about pre and post-show discussions and lobby displays.  

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