December 7, 2011
The USI student cast of Rent, Dustin Stephens, Adam Woodruff, Anachebe Asomugha, Antonio King, Shawnte Gaston, Preston Harris-Dunlap, Bridgette Hoover, Emily Durchholz, Melissa Brown, Brandis DeWilligen, Preston Edge, Daniel Harris, Kevin Hawkins, and Gwendolyn Snow performed on Friday, November 18 for a full house that included adjudicators for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Every aspect of the performance was judged that night, and the hard work of the cast, crew, Patrick Ritsch, music director, Amelia Dalto, choreographer, and Eric Altheide, assistant professor of theatre and director of Rent, paid off. USI Theatre has been chosen to advance to the regional selections of the American College Theater Festival where Rent will be performed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign January 5, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. and again at 8 p.m.
The musical Rent, with book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, musical arrangements by Steve Skinner, and original concept/additional lyrics by Billy Aronson, closed USI Theatre’s fall season production to sold-out shows of each performance. Because of the popularity of this production, USI Theatre added an additional performance on Saturday, November 19, and this additional performance sold out in just five hours.
“Putting together this production required the effort of about 50 students, staff, faculty, and community members. Its success depended on tremendous commitment from all these individuals. Credit must go to our extraordinary, young director, Eric Altheide, and to the University at large, which listened to his requests for support, evaluated his need, and saw the importance of supporting this project,” said Elliot Wasserman about the production’s advancement.
“Rent represents the largest production our program has ever attempted,” says Eric Altheide. “It has been a wonderful lesson to our students that it is important to dream big and then work hard to bring your vision to reality.”
The cast, crew, musicians, and faculty will spend several days during the winter break practicing the set up and tear down of the set, lights, costumes, video, sound, and props. The USI Theatre will have from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to have the entire production ready to go for the 1:30 p.m. performance start time on at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The cast and crew will then have one hour to dismantle the show after the final performance at 8 p.m.
In addition to the production of Rent, USI students Anachebe Asomugha, Preston Harris-Dunlap, Bridgette Hoover, Patrick Litteken, and Kalab Sullivan have all advanced to audition during the American College Theater Festival as Irene Ryan nominees.