ETBU Presents Pulitzer Prize Winning Musical, Sunday in the Park with George
MARSHALL (10/01/12)- A special musical has been chosen by the East Texas Baptist University School of Fine Arts to be performed as part of the Centennial Celebration. Starting October 17 and running through October 21, the ETBU Theatre Arts Department will present Sunday in the Park with George, with music by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.
The musical won the Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for best drama. It splits the action of the story into two centuries. The first act follows late nineteenth-century painter Georges Seurat as he attempts to finish his masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Seurat is torn between his love for Dot and his obsession with his own work. The second act follows the great-grandson of the painter as he faces an artistic crisis of his own, during the commercialization of art in the 1980s. Though the story focuses on the artist and his struggle with the creative process, thematically the musical also examines the difficulty in sustaining lasting relationships, in overcoming petty jealousies, and in negotiating the worlds of art and commerce.
The musical will be directed by Traci Ledford, who is beginning her fourth year at ETBU and serves as the Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts.
“This play was chosen very specifically,” said Ledford, “because between act one and act two a century passes, which creates a very unique challenge.” The two Georges are played by the same actor, Brent Hetherington, a senior from Gladewater.
Another difficulty the department has to overcome is presenting the musical off campus. The musical will be held at the Marshall Convention Center. The ETBU campus has nothing equal to the size of the Convention Center stage for the cast to practice on. “I am telling my actors that when we move into the space, they are going to have to adjust constantly,” said Ledford. The cast and crew will move into the space on October 8. Once they move in, they will work all day (aside from class time), every day to get ready. There are 19 total students in the cast, and each cast member must also serve on a crew. An additional 15 students work strictly behind the scenes.
“There are many challenges,” said Ledford. “I don’t think many people understand how much effort goes into a play.” Work on the production actually began last May. In addition to Ledford, other faculty and staff contributing to the show include Dr. Virginia Lile Boaz (Music Director), Dr. Justin Hodges (Conductor), Sarah Bussard (Costume Designer), and Stacy Bone (Set Designer and Technical Director).
Performances will take place at the Marshall Convention Center on October 17 and 18 at 7:30 pm, October 19 at 7:00 pm, and October 21 at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $10 general admission or free with an ETBU ID. Reservations are required and can be made online at www.etbu.edu/theatre or call 903-923-2294.
Sunday in the Park with George is just one of many events to be held during ETBU’s Homecoming Centennial Celebration, October 19-21, and Founders Day on October 22. For information on Centennial events, visit www.etbu.edu.