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ACU Theatre 2021-2025

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2023-2024 Season

Lights Up! 2023

ACU Theatre presents Lights Up
Lights Up! 2023
Directed by Adam Hester
Performed on September 9, 2023
National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in downtown Abilene

Credits

ACU theatre alumna Alisha Taylor (’17)

Show Information

CU theatre alumna Alisha Taylor (’17)reflected on the journey of filming her first documentary focusing on the Black history narrative in Abilene. Taylor’s film has been accepted into the Queens Underground International Black History Film Festival in New York City.

MORE ABOUT LIGHTS UP!

Matilda the Musical

ACU Theatre presents Matilda
Homecoming Musical
Directed by Joey Banks
Performed October 12-15, 2023
Boone Family Theatre

Credits
  • Book by Dennis Kelly
  • Music and lyrics by Tim Minchin
  • Directed by Joey Banks
  • Music direction by Dr. Chris Hollingsworth
  • Choreography by Lily Balogh and Caitlin Martin
Show Information

Award-winning Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical is a captivating masterpiece by Dennis Kelly with original songs by Tim Minchin. Matilda has won 47 international awards and continues to thrill sold-out audiences of all ages around the world. Matilda is a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence and a powerful imagination. Packed with high-energy dance numbers, catchy songs and an unforgettable star turn for a young actress, Matilda is a joyous girl-power romp. Children and adults alike will be thrilled and delighted by the story of the special little girl with an extraordinary imagination. The musical will include ACU’s full orchestra, conducted by Dr. Steven Ward (’92).

Study Guide Playbill

The Spitfire Grill

ACU Theatre presents The Spitfire Grill
Cornerstone Play
Directed by Dawne Meeks
Performed November 16-18, 2023
Boone Family Theatre

Credits
  • Music and book by James Valcq
  • Lyrics and book by Fred Alley
  • Based on the film by Lee David Zlotoff
  • Directed by Dawne Meeks
Show Information

A feisty young woman has a chance for a new start to follow her dreams, based on a page from an old travel book, to a small town in Wisconsin and finds a place for herself working at Hannah’s Spitfire Grill. The Grill is for sale, but there are no takers for the only eatery in the depressed town, so newcomer Percy convinces Hannah to raffle it off. Entry fees are one hundred dollars, and the best essay on why you want the Grill wins. Soon, mail arrives by the wheelbarrow and things really start cookin’ at the Spitfire Grill.

MORE ABOUT THE SPITFIRE GRILL

One Night Only

ACU Theatre presents One Night Only
Dance Show
Directed and Choreographed by Lauren Hamilton
Performed November 30, 2023
Culp Theatre

Credits

Directed and Choreographed by Broadway veteran dancer Lauren Hamilton

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One Night Only is back by popular demand! Guest director/choreographer Lauren Hamilton creates a dynamic and stirring night of beautiful dance, inspired by Broadway shows.
A Broadway veteran, Lauren graced the NYC stage in Wicked on Broadway. This enchanting night of dance was followed by a reception in the Lipford Lobby.
Playbill

tapestry

ACU Theatre presents Tapestry
Celebration of Diversity
Directed by Alisha Taylor
Performed January 20 & 21, 2024
Culp Theatre

Credits

Directed by Alisha Taylor

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We are thrilled to launch Tapestry, an evening of scenes and songs celebrating our ACU Theatre students of color. ACU Theatre alumna Alisha Taylor, an actress, documentary filmmaker and choreographer, weaves stories of truth, faith, justice and hope. A light reception will follow in the Lipford Lobby.

Paybill

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940

ACU Theatre presents The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940
Winter play
Directed by Catherine Baumgardner
Performed February 22-25, 2024
Fulks Theatre

Credits
  • By John Bishop
  • Directed and costumed by Catherine Baumgardner
Show Information

The creative team responsible for a recent Broadway flop (in which three chorus girls were murdered by the mysterious “Stage Door Slasher”) assemble for a backer’s audition of their new show at the Westchester estate of a wealthy “angel.” The house is replete with sliding panels, secret passageways and a German maid who is apparently four different people. This comic mayhem whodunit will treat the audience to a side-splitting good time and a generous serving of the author’s refreshingly irreverent wit.

Study Guide

Playbill

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

ACU Theatre The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane graphic
Student Firestation Direct
Directed by Caleb Shields
Performed March 23-24, 2024
Culp Theatre

Credits
  • From the book by Kate DiCamillo
  • Adapted by Dwayne Hartford
  • Directed by Caleb Shields
Show Information

Edward Tulane is an expensive toy rabbit made of china. He is loved by a little girl named Abilene, but Edward doesn’t care. He is vain and self-centered and has no interest in anyone other than himself. On an ocean voyage, Edward is accidentally thrown overboard and sinks to the bottom of the sea. So begins his journey – a journey over which he has no control, for he is a toy rabbit and can neither move nor speak. Through this miraculous journey, Edward learns what it is to love, what it is to lose that love, and how to find the courage to love again. Based on Kate DiCamillo’s beautiful novel of the same name, the play is a theatrical tour de force for a small ensemble of actors and musicians.

Playbill

Study Guide

Disney’s High School Musical
on stage!

ACU Theatre presents High School Musical On Stage

Spring Musical
Directed by Joey Banks
Performed April 25-28, 2024
Fulks Theatre

Credits
  • Book by David Simpatico
  • Songs by Matthew Gerrard and Robbie Nevil; Ray Cham, Greg Cham and Andrew Seeley; Randy Petersen and Kevin Quinn; Andy Dodd and Adam Watts; Bryan Louiselle; David N. Lawrence and Faye Greenberg; and Jamie Houston
  • Music adapted, arranged and produced by Bryan Louiselle
  • Based on a Disney Channel original movie written by Peter Barsocchini
  • Directed by Joey Banks
  • Musical direction by Dr. Chris Hollingsworth
  • Choreography by Josey Pickett
Summary

Disney Channel’s smash hit movie musical comes to life on our stage! Troy, Gabriella and the students of East High deal with first love, friends and family while balancing their classes and extracurricular activities. It’s the first day after winter break at East High. The Jocks, Brainiacs, Thespians and Skater Dudes find their cliques, recount their vacations and look forward to the new year. This upbeat musical will have audience members tapping their toes and dancing in their seats!

PLAYBILL

2022-2023 Season

Lights Up 2022

Lights Up Graphic

A tribute performance honoring the late Jeannette Lipford
Directed by Adam Hester
Performed September 17, 2022
National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL)

Credits

Directed by Adam Hester

Show Information

A cabaret evening of songs and tributes to the life of Jeannette Lipford benefiting the ACU Theatre. Six ACU Theatre alums will be performing songs from musicals where Jeannette served as vocal director. Alums include Jonathan Bragg ’09 (All Shook Up, Aida); Griffin Jones ’21 (Bright Star, Beauty and the Beast); Payton Reeves Lauerman ’19 (Wonderful Town, Cats); Christine Tyndall Pinson ’03 (Jekyll & Hyde, For Such a Time as This); Annika Johansson Spalding ’06 (Jane Eyre, Seussical); and Department of Music chair, Rick Piersall ’93 (Meet Me in St. Louis).

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid Graphic

Homecoming Musical
Directed by Dawne Swearingen-Meeks
Performed October 14-16, 2022
Abilene Convention Center

Credits
  • Disney’s The Little Mermaid
  • Book by Doug Wright
  • Music by Alan Menken
  • Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater
  • Directed by Dawne Swearingen-Meeks
  • Musical Direction by Dr. Chris Hollingsworth
Show Information

Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved stories and the classic animated film, Disney’s The Little Mermaid is a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. With music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and a compelling book by Doug Wright, this fishy fable will capture your heart with its irresistible songs, including “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl” and “Part of Your World.” In Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Ariel, King Triton’s youngest daughter, wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above, bargaining with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems, and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends – Flounder the fish, Scuttle the seagull and Sebastian the crab – to restore order under the sea. The musical will include ACU’s full orchestra, conducted by Dr. Steven Ward.

Guide

The Coast Starlight

The Coast Starlight Graphic

Cornerstone Production
Directed by Adam Hester
Performed November 14-19, 2022
Fulks Theatre

Credits
  • Written by Keith Bunin
  • Directed by Adam Hester
Show Information

One morning, a young man boards the Coast Starlight, the long-distance
train connecting Los Angeles and Seattle. He’s got a secret that can land
him in terrible trouble, and he has roughly 1,000 miles to enlist the help
of his fellow travelers, each of whom is reckoning with their own choices
in search of a way forward. Keith Bunin’s new play is a smart, funny and
compassionate story about our capacity for invention and reinvention
when life goes off the rails.

Playbill Guide

One Night Only

One Night Only Graphic

Dance Premiere
Directed by Mark Gold
Performed December 3, 2022
Culp Theatre

Credits

Directed by Mark Gold

Show Information

One Night Only is back by popular demand! Join us for an evening of
dance, with themes of adventure, hope and story tied into this special
concert. A reception will follow in Hester Lobby.
Playbill

Little Women

Little Women Graphic

Winter Comedy
Directed by Dawne Swearingen-Meeks
Performed February 16-19, 2023
Fulks Theatre

Credits
  • Written by Kate Hamill
  • Directed by Dawne Swearingen-Meeks
Show Information

Jo March isn’t your typical Victorian lady. She’s indecorous and headstrong, and one day she’s going to be a great American novelist. As she and her sisters grow up in the middle of the Civil War, they strive to be brave, intelligent and imaginative young women. But as adulthood approaches, each sister must negotiate her ambitions with society’s expectations. In a war-torn world defined by gender, class and personal tragedy, Jo March gives us her greatest story: the March sisters, four dreamers destined to be imperfect little women.

Playbill Guide

Almost Maine

Almost Maine Graphic

Student-Directed Show
Directed by Chloe Munson and Juan Rivera
Performed March 25-26, 2023
Culp Theatre

Credits
  • by John Cariani
  • Student directors: Chloe Munson and Juan Rivera
Show Information

The challenge for our student directors and team is to tell these quirky, punch-drunk love stories with a challenge! ACU Theatre students will have a limited budget and simple unit elements to create magic on the stage. The educational idea is that with limitations, creativity blooms.

Almost, Maine is a play by John Cariani, comprising nine short plays that explore love and loss in a remote, mythical almost-town called Almost, Maine.

Playbill Guide

Godspell

Godspell Graphic
Spring Musical
Directed by Joey Banks
Performed April 21-23, 2023
Fulks Theatre

Credits
  • Directed by Joey Banks
  • Musical directed by Dr. Chris Hollingsworth
  • Conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak
  • Music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
  • Originally produced on the New York stage by Edgar Lansbury, Stuart Duncan and Joseph Beruh
Show Information

Godspell was the first major musical theatre offering from three-time Grammy and Academy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Children of Eden), and it took the world by storm. Led by the international hit, “Day by Day,” an eclectic blend of songs, ranging in style from pop to vaudeville, are employed as the story of Jesus’ life unfolds across the stage. Jesus’ messages of kindness and love come vibrantly to life.

Playbill

Abilene Shakespeare Festival 2023

Abilene Shakespeare Festival 2023 Graphic

Love’s Labour’s Lost
Performed June 15 & 17, 2023
Taming of the Shrew
Performed Jun 16 & 18, 2023
Fulks Theatre

Credits

Love’s Labour’s Lost

  • Songs by Michael Friedman; Book Adapted by Alex Timbers
  • Based on the play by William Shakespeare
  • Directed by Adam Hester
  • Vocal Direction by Christopher Hollingsworth

The Taming of the Shrew

  • By William Shakespeare
  • Directed by Gary Varner
Show Information

Love’s Labour’s Lost

Romance, revelry and enchanting music ignite in this contemporary, yet lovingly faithful, musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy. The King and his best buds decide at their five- year college reunion to swear off the joys of women. But when four cute, clever girls from their past show up, they’re forced to reconsider all of that nonsense! Add in an outlandish Spanish exchange student love and devotion are put to the test with hilarious results. Love’s Labour’s Lost is a madcap celebration of true love and coming of age. Featuring an ensemble cast and an infectious pop score, don’t miss this fresh, clever and outrageously fun modernized classic.

The Taming of the Shrew
Shakespeare’s sassy romantic comedy is more hilarious than ever in a new style improvised by director Gary Varner. Blossoming beauty Bianca can’t get married until her caustic older sister Kate has tied the knot. But who can tame wild Kate? Enter Petruchio and resentment surrenders to romance in this exhilarating battle of the sexes.

PLAYBILL

2021-2022 Season

Tied

Tied-graphic

Guest Artist Launch
Directed by Ren Jackson
Staged reading performed September 9-10, 2021
Fulks Theatre

Credits
  • By ACU Theatre alumna Crystal Rae
  • Directed by Ren Jackson, New York City guest artist
Show Information

In 1963 the world lost four little girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, including the youngest daughter of Daniel, a devoted husband and father. This one-man play is presented in a staged reading performance with Samuel Cook, Ren Jackson and Jeremiah Taylor representing the many versions of Daniel’s journey. Brilliantly woven together with poetry and truth, Tied brings hope in the midst of heartache.

Joseph and the amazing
technicolor dreamcoat

Joseph-...-Dreamcoat-graphic

Homecoming Musical
Directed by Gary Varner
Performed October 15-17
Abilene Convention Center

Credits
  • Musical Direction by Dr. Chris Hollingsworth
  • Directed by Gary Varner
  • Written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • Lyrics by Tim Rice
  • Choreography by Lily Balogh
Show Information

One of the most enduring shows of all time is a reimagining of a beloved biblical story. Told entirely through song, the musical follows Joseph, who, after being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, ingratiates himself to Egyptian noble Potiphar, but ends up in jail after refusing the amorous advances of the ruler’s wife. While imprisoned, Joseph discovers the ability to interpret dreams, and he soon finds himself in front of Pharaoh, who makes him his right-hand man and reunites him with his family.

Lights Up 2021

ACU Theatre Archives 2021 Lights Up graphic

Joy for the Journey
Concert & Reception
Performed December 4, 2021
Center for Contemporary Arts

Credits

Joel Edwards (’16)

Show Information

A cabaret evening of faith and joy with Joel Edwards (’16)

 

God’s Favorite

ods-Favorite-grasphic

Cornerstone Production
Directed by Adam Hester
Performed November 15-20, 2021
Fulks Theatre

Credits
  • Written by Neil Simon
  • Directed by Adam Hester
Show Information

Successful Long Island businessman Joe Benjamin is a modern-day “Job” with a demanding wife, ungrateful children and wise-cracking household employees. Just when it seems things couldn’t get any worse, he is visited by Sidney Lipton (a.k.a. “A Messenger from God”) with a mission: Test Joe’s faith and report back to “the boss.” The jokes and tests of faith fly fast and furious as Neil Simon spins a contemporary morality tale like no other in this hilarious comedy.

More About the Show

Dances of Courage

Dance-of-Hope--graphic

Dance Premiere
One Night Only: Dances of Courage
Directed by Lily Balogh
December 10 film launch

Credits
  • Lead choreography by Balogh
    New York City Ballet guest artist.
  • Directed by Lily Balogh
Show Information

Dances of Courage emerges as a celebration of movement, music and a God-given art form. Lily Balogh has invited student choreographers to create distinct, powerful pieces reflecting courage, love and light as we dance into the world. The result is an inspiring production of creative energy erupting into a joyous celebration of life.

The Light in the Piazza

Light-in-the-Piazza-graphic

Winter Musical
Directed by Adam Hester
Performed February 17-19 & 25-26, 2022
Fulks Theatre

Credits
  • Book by Craig Lucas
  • Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettel
  • Directed by Adam Hester
  • Musical Direction by Chris Hollingsworth
Show Information

Margaret, an elegant and strong-willed Southern woman, and her daughter, Clara, are touring the Tuscan countryside in 1953 when Clara meets Fabrizio, a handsome Italian gentleman. But a secret about Clara threatens to destroy her chance at happiness. With operatic melodies that set it apart from most contemporary musical theatre, The Light in the Piazza is a story about mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and the deeply intertwined emotions of love and loss.
Study Guide

Highlights

the Bus Stop

Bus-Stop-graphic

Spring Comedy
Directed by Gary Varner
Performed April 7-9 & 22-23, 2022
Fulks Theatre

Credits
  • Written by William Inge
  • Directed by Gary Varner
Show Information

In the middle of a howling snowstorm, a bus from Kansas City pulls up at a cheerful roadside diner. All roads are blocked, and the weary travelers are going to have to hole up until morning. They include Cherie, a nightclub chanteuse in a sparkling gown and a seedy fur-trimmed jacket, and a 21-year-old cowboy with a ranch of his own and the manners of a headstrong bull. The hilarious storyline includes the proprietor of the cafe and the bus driver at last finding time to develop a friendship of their own, a middle-aged scholar who comes to terms with himself; and a young girl who gains her first taste of love.