Hammond’s blossoming theatre season


Courtesy of Rayna Myers

Cast members of “The Bald Soprano” rehearsing a scene in the University Center. “The Bald Soprano” will be showing from Sept. 28-30.

The Columbia Theatre and Southeastern both have a variety of new theater projects for the fall season. 

The Columbia presents a variety of shows and film screenings throughout the year, featuring favorites such as the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and Star Wars. This year, the Columbia will be putting on a production of “The Jungle Book”’ from Nov. 11-19, directed by artistic director Jim Winter and SLU alumna Taylor Meng. Playwright Tommy Jamerson adapted the well-known story especially for the Columbia.

After the show premieres in November, it will eventually become a fully-published script. 

“One thing we’re excited about is that we’re back on the main stage in the main auditorium, so in terms of technical theater, it will be quite the spectacle,” Winter said.

Although the production has a slightly darker tone than the original Rudyard Kipling tale, it is nevertheless appropriate for audiences of all ages.  Along with “The Jungle Book,” the Columbia will also put on a production of Romeo and Juliet in March of 2023, with auditions Nov. 14-15. It will be a collaboration between Southeastern and the Columbia.

“It’s a partnership with the Southeastern theater program. There will be a mix of Southeastern students, faculty, staff and community members combining forces to pull off this show,” Winter explained. 

At Southeastern, the fall season will begin with “The Bald Soprano,” directed by Chad Winters; it will run Sept. 28-30. French playwright Eugene Ionesco developed the script in 1950 and dubbed it an “anti-play.”

“He called it an anti-play because he wanted to write a play that broke away from the conventions of realistic plays. He wrote the play while he was learning English and discovering how difficult the English language is, prompting him to write this absurd anti-play poking fun at language and communication,” Winters said. 

The plot centers on the Smiths, a conventional London couple who frequently engage in nonsensical banter with another family, the Martins, along with the Smith’s maid, and the town’s fire chief. Junior communication major and actress Lauren Price, who plays Mrs. Smith, said the wacky nature of the characters is an important feature of the show.

“In the story everything seems very normal to the characters conversation wise, but to the audience it is very strange and a bunch of nonsense,” Price explained.

Winters said he hopes the audience will expect the unexpected and come with an open mind. You’re not sitting down to watch something that reflects real life, but the absurdity of language and communication. What is the moral? That’s for you to decide, but if you take the ride you’ll have a good time,” Winters said.

Later in the fall, local director and playwright Donna Gay Anderson will present her new play “The Way We Say Goodbye” from Nov. 16-19. The show is about the many feelings experienced when saying goodbye. It consists of 15 monologues in which 14 women and one man attempt to deal with these emotions. The idea for the show came to Anderson during the pandemic. 

“There was almost no activity with theaters as far as interactive productions were concerned. I decided to write something that could be presented and rehearsed virtually if it had to be,” Anderson said.

The show was designed to be flexible for smaller community and university theaters programs due to the large number of cast members required for the show. Rehearsals for current students will take place Sept. 12. Anderson said she plans on having a cast of current and former SLU students in celebration of the return of the theater major. She also noted current students will have the opportunity to learn from some of the alumni who have gotten professional theater experience since graduating.

“I’m excited about some of these students being able to learn from their alumni cast members. Some of them have worked in New Orleans, New York, Paris and Los Angeles in professional theater. My hope is that cast members will develop friendships with each other that can be supportive in their professional lives for years to come,” Anderson explained.

Information regarding ticket prices and show times can be found at the SLU website and the Columbia Theaters website, Instagram and Twitter.