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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Fall Arts Preview: Theater

THEATER

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

The Department of Theater and Dance summer musical theater program takes to the stage with this fun musical theater classic. The cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will give its final performances at 8 p.m. from Sept. 23 to 25 and 2 p.m. Sept. 26, in Wright Hall’s Main Theater.

The show takes place in a middle school auditorium and follows six teens as they compete in a spelling bee. Featuring lively dance numbers and songs such as “My Friend the Dictionary” and “My Unfortunate Erection,” the show won two Tony Awards.

It is unique in its incorporation of audience members participating on-stage, said Pete Nowlen, musical director of the production. Each show, four volunteers are selected to come on stage and be part of the action. “While the plot of the show is, of course, a spelling bee, the show is very character driven,” Nowlen said. “Every character has a song and a scene that present the challenges they face in their daily lives — estranged parents, strange parents, pressure to excel, inability to make friends, or just being ‘a little bit bizarre,’ as one character puts it.”

For more information, go to theatredance.ucdavis.edu.

– Eleni Stephanides

Tilly No-Body

Running from Oct.. 14 to. 24, the Theater and Dance Department’s production of Tilly No-Body: Catastrophes of Love chronicles Tilly Wedekind’s internal meanderings. It brings together personal letters, biography, drama and original songs. The show focuses on both Tilly’s passionate marriage and her attempted suicide.

An actress in the production, faculty member Bella Merlin trained in the UK and Russia before acting in such British theater productions as The Permanent Way, She Stoops to Conquer and A Laughing Matter. Director Miles Anderson is a film, television and stage actor. He also directed the Royal Shakespeare Company’s youth projects at Stratford.

For more information, go to theatredance.ucdavis.edu.

– Eleni Stephanides

In The Heights

The best show to hit Broadway since West Side Story is making its way over to Sacramento. The touring company of In the Heights will perform from Nov. 2 to 14 at the Community Center Theater in Sacramento.

The musical explores some of the more gritty aspects of life in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Featuring sexy, Latin music and dance, the show still charms audiences at every performance.

In The Heights won the 2008 Tony Award for Best New Musical and has been a Broadway sensation ever since. For more information, go to intheheightsthemusical.com.

– Brittany Pearlman

Paul Taylor Dance Company

On Nov. 13, at 8 p.m. at the Mondavi Center, audiences can take an exclusive look at the talented Paul Taylor Dance Company. The creator of the performance, Paul Taylor, has been critically acclaimed for literally decades as one of the innovators and creators of the form of modern and contemporary dance. His show addresses social as well as personal issues in a beautiful display of talented energy.

Taylor says, “I make dances because I believe in the power of contemporary dance, its immediacy, its potency, its universality.”

For more information, go mondavicenter.ucdavis.edu.

– Brittany Pearlman

Gallathea

As an adaptation to John Lyly’s Elizabethan play Gallathea, the UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance presents an alternative interpretation set in present day.

This production of Gallathea analyzes gender roles in society and how different and similar they are from present day to over four hundred years ago. Presenting different perspectives from characters, themes and motifs, ideas presented reveal what we take for granted in present day.

This production is directed by Theatre and Dance professor Peter Lichtenfels and will take place in the Main Theatre (Wright Hall) Nov. 11 to 13; 18 to 20 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 14 at 2 p.m.

For more information, visit theatredance.ucdavis.edu.

– Uyen Cao

THE ARTS DESK can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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