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UW Summer Festival Opens with Backstage Comedy June 14

June 8, 2011

The University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance launches the 2011 Snowy Range Summer Theatre and Dance Festival with "The Understudy," Theresa Rebeck's witty new comedy that celebrates and pokes affectionate fun at one of the most underrated players in the world of theatre: the understudy.

Directed by Professor Rebecca Hilliker, "The Understudy" runs June 14-18 at 7:30 p.m. in the UW Fine Arts Studio Theatre. Tickets cost $10 for the public, $8 senior citizens (60 and older) and $5 students. For tickets and information call (307) 766-6666 or go online at www.uwyo.edu/finearts.

A smash hit Off-Broadway, "The Understudy" is the latest comedy from Pulitzer Prize nominee. Rebeck, one of today's most widely produced playwrights ("Omnium Gatherum," "Bad Dates," "Mauritius"). Her credits also include episodes of "NYPD Blue" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," the feature films "Harriet the Spy" and "Gossip," the independent features "Sunday on the Rocks" and "Seducing Charlie Barker," plus the novels "Three Girls and Their Brother" and "Twelve Rooms with a View."

Laugh-out-loud funny, "The Understudy" places the backstage friction of a frenzied rehearsal center stage with spirited satire. When a long-lost play by literary giant Franz Kafka is discovered, the Broadway production relies on the drawing power of Bruce, a huge movie star and the headliner, and Jake, an up-and-coming Hollywood action star, to reel in the audiences. Theatre professionals are out of the running, much to the chagrin of long-time stage actor Harry, who is the new understudy for Jake's role, and who is told repeatedly that he will never, ever have the opportunity actually to go on.

"It is always really compelling when you have actors on stage playing actors playing characters, to see that evaluation of the actor process," says Hilliker. "That's what interested me initially about the play and then the whole Kafka connection as well. It thrilled me to think that Rebeck has created this whole imaginary Kafka play and she's spot on with it. It really allows Harry and Jake to show what they can do," she adds.


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