Premiere Stages at Kean University Announces its 2011 Season
Featuring true accounts of unyielding courage

UNION, N.J. – Premiere Stages at Kean University announces a dynamic season of plays, including two true stories about women who lived and died making the world a better place. The season features Follow Me to Nellie’s, Dominique Morisseau’s powerful new drama set in civil rights era Natchez, Mississippi, and a collaborative premiere of John Wooten’s harrowing Hannah, about legendary WWII heroine and poet, Hannah Senesh. Premiere Stages will also develop James Christy’s hauntingly beautiful Egyptian Song, as part of a week-long workshop directed by Michael Barakiva, presented to the public as an interactive staged reading. The season’s family programming includes musical theatre productions great for all ages, as well as two exciting summer theatre camps for young people.

In Follow Me to Nellie’s by Dominique Morisseau and directed by John Wooten, the audience journeys to the infamous Nellie Jackson’s home down south. A colorful mix of inhabitants include a hopeless blues singer is looking for a way out, a brave freedom fighter is looking for a way in, and a house of down trodden women are looking for a new day. In 1955 Mississippi, during the reign of segregation, the price of living their dreams may cost them everything. A moving true story, filled with blues, laughter and emotion, “…Nellie’s” vividly examines sacrifices made during the early civil rights era. This Premiere Stages Festival Winner, selected from over three hundred submissions, opens Thursday, July 14, in the Zella Fry Theatre and continues through Sunday, July 31st.

In September, Premiere Stages will produce Hannah by John Wooten, directed by Adam Immerwahr. This timeless piece, based on actual events, tells the story of freedom fighter and poet Hannah Senesh, who parachuted behind enemy lines during World War II to help Jews escape from Nazi occupied Hungary. The play is a powerful portrayal of a young woman's fearless commitment to making the world a better place. We watch Hannah grow from schoolgirl to a fearless soldier and an unbreakable prisoner of war. Celebrating Hannah’s spirit of hope and fortitude in the face of unbeatable odds, the production will provide a platform to explore the lingering effects of the Holocaust and to honor both its victims and heroes. Premiere Stages is collaborating with multiple partners on the production, both on and off-campus to bring this important story to life. The play runs from September 2nd through 19th with a special Opening Night event at the Kean University Human Rights Institute.

Tickets for productions range from $15 to $25, and special group rates are also available. In this challenging economic climate, Premiere Stages is committed to keeping tickets to their high-quality professional productions accessible and affordable. By purchasing a “Premiere Package,” subscription patrons can save up to $30.00. Admission to the Staged Reading of Egyptian Song (June 24-26) is free, and offers patrons a unique opportunity to participate in the development of a new play. In this captivating and poetic drama, a gifted young singer and her sensitive brother struggle to bridge social divides in early 20th Century Egypt as they search for happiness and independence in a world where tradition comes first.

Premiere Stages’ Musical Fun Series features two excellent theatre presentations for young audiences. Pushcart Players is back at Premiere with their production of Peter and the Wolf on Wednesday, July 13 and Yates Musical Theatre will present the classic Alice in Wonderland on Wednesday, July 20.

Camp Premiere is Premiere Stages’ creative summer program. This year, due to a generous grant from the Westfield Foundation, Premiere Stages is proud to offer camp sessions for two different age groups. Session 1: “Let’s Put on a Show” is a performance and playwriting camp for ages 11-14 (July 18 through July 29); Session 2: “Taking the Stage” is an acting camp for ages 14-18 (July 25 – August 5). Camp Premiere is dedicated to fostering a creative and nurturing environment for young theatre artists at all experience levels. Both sessions culminate in a public showcase performance. The camp costs $295. Scholarships are available, with preference given to Union County residents. Registration forms are available on the Premiere Stages Website, www.kean.edu/premierestages.

All performances will take place on the Kean University campus, located at 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J. Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatres. Premiere Stages provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces. Please call for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances. Large print programs are available at all times. Publications are available with advanced notice in alternate formats.

Premiere Stages is made possible in part through funding from The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Provident Bank Foundation, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance, and through the generous support of individual patrons. For further information, call Premiere Stages at 908-737-4092 or visit the website at www.kean.edu/premierestages.

Paul Whelihan

pwheliha@kean.edu
May 16, 2011

 
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