CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Sept. 28, 2001
(NOTE TO PRINT EDITORS: The actors in the photographs are Mollie Mook as
Alexandra, Brian Bennett as Carl and Cole Hotek as Young Emil.)
University Theatres Mainstage season opens with prairie musical 'O Pioneers!'
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University Theatres Mainstage season at the University
of Iowa will open with a musical based on Willa Cather's frontier classic,
"O Pioneers!", with script by UI alumna Darrah Cloud and music by
Kim. D. Sherman, at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 in E.C. Mabie Theatre of the
UI Theatre Building. Additional performances will be at 8 p.m. Oct. 12, 13
and 17-20, and at 3 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 14 and 21.
Published in 1913 and based on Cather's childhood experiences in western
Nebraska, "O Pioneers" is a classic of American literature renowned
for its vivid portrayal of the challenges of life on the plains. The book
chronicles the struggles, sacrifices and triumphs of Alexandra Bergson, a
fiercely independent and determined Swedish immigrant who overcomes tremendous
hardships to build a life for her family on the desolate Nebraska prairie.
The Cloud/Sherman musical version of "O Pioneers!" has been an
enduring hit -- produced frequently throughout the country, by regional, college
and community theaters.
"There are two special things about this version of 'O Pioneers!"
says director Alan MacVey, chair of the UI department of theatre arts. "The
first is that, clearly and simply, it tells a wonderful story of the frontier,
seen through the eyes of a strong woman. The second is that its music is extraordinarily
beautiful. It captures the power of the land and of the pioneers who worked
it. Though it's sophisticated, it feels simple, and it combines with the story
to create a haunting experience."
MacVey, who also directed the world premiere of the Cloud/Sherman musical
"Heartland," says he also brings his own family connections to his
interpretation of "O Pioneers!": "I have a photograph of my
father when he was about eight years old. He grew up in Eastern Wyoming, in
a place not far from the locale of 'O Pioneers!' In the photo he's standing
on an empty plain, his rickety bicycle leaning against him, and his hair swept
back by the wind. One of the lyrics in first song of 'O Pioneers!' says everything
about the photo: 'There's nothing here.' Though he moved to California, my
father never really left that empty plain, and it remains with me, too, Three-quarters
of a century later, I'm trying to put that photograph on our stage."
Cloud earned Master of Fine Arts degrees from both the Iowa Playwrights Workshop
and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. At the UI, her play "The House Across
the Street" was invited to the American College Theatre Festival showcase
at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
She has written books and lyrics for plays around the country, including
"American Siddhartha," "Dream House," "Honor Song
for Crazy Horse," "Braille Garden," "The Sirens,"
"The Stick Wife," "The Mud Angel" and "The Obscene
Bird of Night." Her TV work includes "A Holiday Romance" (CBS,
starring Andy Griffith and Naomi Judd), "Night Ride Home" (CBS,
starring Rebecca DeMornay), "Shattered Mind" (NBC, starring Heather
Locklear) and "A Holiday to Remember" (CBS, starring Randy Travis).
Her teleplay adaptation of "O Pioneers!" starring Mary O'Donnell
was nationally broadcast on PBS.
She is a recipient of the Gilman-Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theatre Award, the
Roger L. Stevens Award, the Frederick Loewe Musical Theatre Award, the Rockefeller
Playwriting Award and the Drama League Award, among others.
Sherman, a visiting lecturer at the Yale University School of Drama, has
written incidental music for plays in many regional theatres and on Broadway.
Her choral work has been performed throughout the United States and Argentina.
For this fall Sherman has been commissioned to write a chamber work for soprano,
string orchestra and harp, with text based on "The Song of Solomon."
Sherman and Cloud have collaborated on musical theater for more than a dozen
Other artistic contributors to the "O Pioneers!" production are
musical director Carlos Rodriguez, vocal director Marc Falk, scene designer
David Thayer, costume designer Dan Nemteanu, lighting designer Bryon Winn
and choreographer Cathleen Burnett.
Tickets for "O Pioneers!" are $16 ($8 for UI students, senior citizens
and youth). Tickets may be purchased in advance from the Hancher Auditorium
box office. Any remaining tickets for each performance will be available at
the Theatre Building box office one hour before curtain time.
Tickets are also available at a substantial discount as part of University
Theatres three-play and five-play subscription packages. A Mainstage season
brochure is available from the box office.
Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays
and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160.
Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. People with
special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319)
335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who
use that technology.
Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through
Hancher's site on the World Wide Web: <http://www.uiowa.edu/hancher>.
Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students
may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff
may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may
be requested by e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
To learn more about the Department of Theatre Arts, part of the Division
of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, visit <http://www.uiowa.edu/~theatre>
on the World Wide Web. For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit
To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <email@example.com>.