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The millennials' echo of 'The Big Chill' opening at University Theatre

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

LAWRENCE — A post-college, coming-of-age story for the millennials, “Pooter McGraw Is Not Dead Party” centers around a group of friends gathering to mourn the unexpected loss of one of their own who discover that romance, drinking, heartbreak and loss pave the path toward adulthood.

Pooter McGraw Is Not Dead Party” opens Friday, Nov. 11. Performances are Nov. 11, 12, 17, 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 13 and 20 at 2:30 p.m. on Stage Too!, Crafton-Preyer Theatre in Murphy Hall.

“This original work has only been produced on two other occasions, and I wanted to direct a piece that millennials could identify with and relate to,” said Peter Zazzali, director and assistant professor of theatre.

While the earlier productions focused mostly on the “party” element of the play, Zazzali wanted to explore the character relationships in detail to captivate “a poignantly humorous story that captures the quarter-life-crisis experience.”

“I think young people will surely identify with the play’s characters and contents, while older people will likewise be able to relate their own quarter-life memories to the current context depicted here,” Zazzali said.

Zazzali is excited about being able to essentially originate a work of theatre and to see how the actors create characters that have rarely been rendered. The cast was fortunate to have the playwright, Padraic Lillis, in rehearsals to further enrich the process.

The company includes Drew Halfling, Topeka junior, as Sam; Victoria Kilkenny, Shawnee junior, as Ash; Kendra Hacker, St. John senior, as Jenny; DeAngelo Davis, Lynwood, Illinois, sophomore, as Pooter; Adrian Brothers, Lawrence senior, as Marco; Kristen Larsen, Lindenhurst, Illinois, senior, as No-No; Mia Beckerman, Westlake Village, California, sophomore, as Katie; Katelynn Schultz, Oskaloosa sophomore, costume designer; Charlotte Nodarse, Leawood junior, stage manager; Mollie Mytinger, Prairie Village freshman, assistant stage manager; and Chelsea Pitts, Topeka graduate student, lighting designer.

Dave Wanner, University Theatre scene shop manager, is the scenic designer.

Tickets for “Pooter McGraw Is Not Dead Party” 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 $20 for adults, $19 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff, and $10 for children. KU student tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

The Department of Theatre is one of four departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.

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.

Image: University Theatre students rehearse a scene from "Pooter McGraw Is Not Dead Party." See a preview here.


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