Classics and comedies are the theme in 2001 theatre season

The fall theatre season is just around the corner, and the University of Alaska Anchorage Theatre department is offering a play list that could satisfy even the most hard-nosed theatre fan or discriminating college coed.

“It's the perfect mix of the classics with the new,” says Associate Professor Fran Lautenberger. The season kicks-off Oct. 12 with Tango a play by Slawomir Mrozek set in the 1970's. Directed by Professor David Edgecombe, the play focuses on the strained relationship between a conservative boy and his hippie family.

“Mrozek is a Polish writer dealing with communist themes that are somewhat overshadowed by the comedy that seems ludicrous to the point of slapstick,” says Edgecombe. “The political overtones allow the play to be taken at two levels: The Michael J. Fox-ish male lead trying to force his dad into an ordered lifestyle, which is the comedy, and the opening of the doors to fascism while trying to deal with his whole family, which is the political strife,” he adds.

Following Tango is a revisiting of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Given a 21st-century twist by Frank Bebey, the play will be lighting and sound effects heavy according to Lautenberger. Caesar's retelling opens Nov. 23 and runs through Dec. 9. The play marks Bebey's first foray back into the world of theatre in almost 20 years. Lautenburger says when a director has a vision, no matter how long it's been since his last work, you just have to run with it.

Comedy takes the front seat Feb. 8 with Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit. Directed by Alaska Theatre of Youth's Erin Mitchell, the Broadway smash follows the life of poor Charles, who sees the ghost of his dead wife while courting his new fiancÈe. The farce sees everyone die, but Lautenberger says the ghosts are funny, nutty even, and it's Coward at his best.

Closing the season is Tiger at the Gates, directed by Tom Skore. Translated from Jean Giraudoux's manuscript by Christopher Fry, the modern retelling of the battle for Helen of Troy follows a group of 20-somethings as they discourse on the coming of the war. Which begs the question, War what is it good for? We all know how Tom Jones feels about it, but Lautenberger says the play is perfect for college students even though it is considered one of the classics.

“A lot of the main characters are in their 20's, so it is about the discussion on war and what it's about,” she said, adding, “It's a modern adaptation that should be able to draw in the student audience by giving them the feeling that it's contemporary. It could stand alone as a classic, but adapting can only help it.”

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Tiger opens Apr. 12 and runs through the 28. Ticket packages are available at a discounted rate to students. The department only sells from the box office located in the Arts building or by calling their new ticket number, 786-4842.

Sunday matinees are also changing for student's benefits. Students with current Wolfcard ID's can reserve $7 seats instead of the usual $10-13 Sunday seats.

The 26th UAA theatre season looks to offer something for everyone, and after drawing almost 8,000 fans last year Lautenberger expects to keep the department in the black and students in the seats.