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by HELENA WOLLAN
LSSU Public Relations Office
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University theater professor Jennifer Hunter is bringing a lot of laughter to campus with this fall’s theater production of The Dining Room, on top of plans to form a campus comedy team that is part of the ComedySportz national franchise.
COMEDY TIMES SIX – Lake Superior State University students Hannah Conner, Cassie Erdman, and Max Knight find that there is always something going on in The Dining Room, the fall LSSU Theatre Company comedy production that follows families as they celebrate, fall apart, and then come back together. Each actor plays a demanding six characters in the production, which runs on the Arts Center stage Fri.-Sun., Nov. 1-3, with Friday’s and Saturday’s shows at 7:30 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m. (LSSU photo by Drew Putvin)
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Hunter, now in her third semester of teaching at LSSU, said the annual fall theater production is well on its way and she is excited about its prospects. She is directing the production, The Dining Room, while working with students to bring ComedySportz to campus.
The Dining Room is a play with comic and serious elements about human experiences, traditions and families. Hunter said it appealed to her because it is flexible enough to play around with different characters and personalities. Hunter said she believes it is a perfect play to get audiences ready for the holidays.
“I wanted to do something different from the fast-paced farces I have directed in the past,” Hunter said. The production is set to take the Arts Center stage Fri.-Sun., Nov. 1-3, with Friday and Saturday’s shows at 7:30 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m.
Hunter said she is working with a wide range of characters and a good combination of actors.
“We have a mix of new students and old students -- some rock-solid actors and some very talented fresh faces,” she said, noting that 31 students auditioned for 10 parts. “It was important for this cast to have a nice range and flexibility because they play characters of different ages.”
Returning actor Seth Witucki, an alumnus from Sault Ste. Marie who graduated last spring, said he is excited to be a part of the production and provided some insight on what audiences may expect.
“I'm very pleased to be a part of The Dining Room. It is a wildly varied play, and anyone who goes to see it should expect to feel just about every emotion imaginable, aside from disappointment. On stage, off stage, and backstage, this show has plenty of great talent involved and is one not to be missed,” Witucki said.
The characters are from the turn-of-the-20th-century to the present day and Witucki said it would have a storyline that the audience should find entertaining.
As for ComedySportz, Hunter's students in the LSSU theater department are starting a team based upon Hunter's experience in starting one in Portland, Ore., in 2001.
ComedySportz originated in Milwaukee in 1984 and has expanded to include an international team in Berlin. The fun-packed show is family friendly and is described as a mix between Whose Line Is It Anyway and a competitive sports game. The show features two teams competing in improvisation games and performing scenes that the audience members judge and award points.
The LSSU ComedySportz team will include 16 people, including a “Mr. Voice” that will be portrayed by Tieler Schick, a freshman from Rose City studying criminal justice. “Mr. Voice” is the main announcer of the show who also creates sound effects to make the show more fun and comical.
As the theater program develops, Hunter plans to stage ComedySportz shows monthly, taking them out into the community and even on the road.
Meanwhile, Hunter is also working on bringing back “Readers Theater” to LSSU, which is an opportunity for actors to do readings free to the public and help build characters. Retired communication professor Richard Jennings formerly directed this popular program on campus in the 1980s, turning it into a dinner theater with two performances per year.
Hunter also hopes to get a student directing class started soon and produce a musical next year. She believes the increased activity in the theater program will benefit students and the community by creating more opportunities for actors and more interesting productions for audiences to enjoy.
“The more interest we create, the more opportunities we will have,” she said.
Tickets for The Dining Room will be available soon through the Norris Center box office, 906-635-2602, and online at lssu.edu/artscenter.
CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315; Prof Jenn Hunter, e-mail, 635-2735.