Department of Drama opens 2008-09 season with nonstop music and dancing in Kander and Ebb’s ‘Steel Pier’ Oct. 3-12
Department of Drama opens 2008-09 season with nonstop music and dancing in Kander and Ebb’s ‘Steel Pier’ Oct. 3-12September 29, 2008Patrick Finlonstagepr@syr.edu
On Oct. 3, the Department of Drama in Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) opens its 2008-09 season with the musical “Steel Pier,” with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb of “Chicago” and “Cabaret” fame. The show runs through Oct. 12 in the Arthur Storch Theatre at Syracuse Stage, 820 E. Genesee St.
When the Great Depression hit the United States in the 1930s, many Americans did anything they could to keep from going under. The Steel Pier Marathon Dance emerged around this time, offering performers not only the opportunity to win food, housing and money, but also a chance to break into show business. Set in 1933 at the Atlantic City amusement park, this 1997 Tony-nominated Broadway production is credited to well-known collaborators Kander and Ebb, who previously teamed up to create “Cabaret” and the revival of “Chicago.” Bill Kelly, an adventurous pilot, falls out of the sky and into the arms of Rita Racine, a dancer and the wife of evil Steel Pier manager Mick Hamilton. Entertainment and plenty of razzle-dazzle dancing ensue when Rita and Bill pair up for the marathon.
“There’s very little time in this show that’s not underscored by music or when somebody’s not dancing,” says director-choreographer SU Drama faculty member David Wanstreet. “It’s got real heart, very human and very visceral. Sometimes people feel backed into the corner, but there really is a way out. That’s the ultimate message in the show-hope.”
“Steel Pier” premiered on Broadway in April 1997 with a cast that included Broadway star and television actress Kristin Chenoweth (Broadway’s “Wicked” and ABC’s “Pushing Daisies”). That year, the show was nominated for 11 Tony Awards and nine Drama Desk Awards.
A highlight of the SU Drama production will be the use of costumes from the original Broadway production. These costumes will be used in the numbers “The Cellophane Wedding,” “Sprint” and “Ethereal Dance.”
“Using the original costumes is certainly a thrill, both for me and the actors wearing them,” says costume designer and SU Drama faculty member Meggan Camp Kulczynski. “For my assistants, who are students, they get to see Broadway costumes up close and personal-an advantage that many students never get.”
The cast includes senior Shannon Michael Algeo (Ensemble), senior Catherine Charlebois (Mick’s Pick, Ensemble), junior Seth Danner (Ensemble), sophomore Gregory Dassonville (Ensemble), junior Lauren Devine (Ensemble), sophomore Christopher Dwan (Male Swing, Corky), junior John Garry (Ensemble), senior Brody Hessin (Buddy Becker), junior Jessica Jaros (Ensemble), junior Rylyn Juliano (Female Swing), senior Caroline Kenny (Mick’s Pick, Ensemble), senior Chris LeBeau (Ensemble), senior Nadine Malouf (Rita Racine), junior Maggie McVey (Ensemble), senior Benjamin Michael (Mick Hamilton), sophomore Kristin Morris (Ensemble), sophomore Justin Nichols (Mr. Walker), senior Lauren Nolan (Precious McGuire), senior Frankie Paparone (Ensemble), senior Jared M. Poulin (Johnny Adel), senior Matthew Rickard (Dance Captain, Ensemble), junior Michael Rios (Ensemble), junior Emma Ritchie (Ensemble, Precious understudy), junior Naomi Seifter (Rita understudy, Shelby), senior Elena Shapiro (Dance Captain, Bette Becker), junior Kelsey Stalter (Shelby Stevens), junior Dominique Stasiulis (Luke Adams), senior Brendon Stimson (Bill Kelly), junior Matthew Tolstoy (Happy McGuire), junior Amanda Varcelotti (Mick’s Pick, Ensemble) and senior Katja Zarolinski (Dora Foster).
Production designers are Robert John Andrusko (scenic designer), senior Alok Wadhwani (lighting designer), Meggan Camp Kulczynski (costume designer), SU Drama faculty member Jonathan Herter (sound designer/engineer) and senior Dimitre Guenov (stage manager).
Performances are as follows:
- Oct. 3 at 8 p.m.
- Oct. 4 at 8 p.m.
- Oct. 5 at 2 p.m.
- Oct. 8 at 8 p.m.
- Oct. 9 at 8 p.m.
- Oct. 10 at 8 p.m.
- Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Oct. 12 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for students and seniors. Rush tickets are available for $7 at the door one hour before curtain. Wednesday, Oct. 8, is “Pay What You Can” night for valid SU I.D. holders. For tickets and more information, contact the Department of Drama box office at (315) 443-3275 or visit http://vpa.syr.edu/drama.