Thursday, Dec. 29 — The Michigan State University Theatre Department’s production of “The Beaux’ Stratagem” has been selected as one of 10 plays to be performed at next week’s Kennedy Center College Theatre Festival Region III competition at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The comedy, adapted by Thornton Wilder and Ken Ludwig from George Farquhar’s 1707 Restoration play, was presented at MSU’s Auditorium Arena Theatre in November.
The cast includes Wes Haskell, Brandon Piper, Andrea Miller, Caitlin Kniseley and Edward O’Ryan. (All four will also participate in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition at the festival, in which actors perform two-person scenes and monologues or songs for a panel of judges.)
In her Nov. 16 review of "Stratagem," City Pulse critic Mary C. Cusack hailed Haskell’s performance as “a delight,” and called the show “pure eye candy. The set, designed by Sarah Pearline, is one of the best ever created for the Arena Theatre (and) the already attractive cast is wrapped in Eric Franzen’s sumptuous costumes, topped with period wigs, courtesy of Heather Fleming.”
“Stratagem” was directed by guest artist Edward Daranyi, previously the assistant director of Stratford Shakespeare festival.
The MSU cast has three performances scheduled at the Region III competition Jan. 5, at 9 a.m., 1 and 7 p.m., which Piper said is both exciting and potentially exhausting.
"I think three times is really going to be stretching us," he said. "We'll have to really keep that energy up, stay in that Restoration period and just go for it."
Piper and his cast members had a brush-up rehearsal of "Stratagem" last week and are preparing for what Piper calls "a couple of whirlwind days" on Jan. 2 and 3, as they prepare to reformat the opulent production for the University of Illinois theater.
"We're lucky, because we just did the show not too long ago, so we don't have to worry about polishing it," Piper said. "We just have to figure out how to fit it into the new space."
“Stratagem” is competing against other shows were drawn from schools in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois, including University of Southern Indiana’s “Rent,” University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s “Edwin Booth,” Hope College’s “Gone Missing,” Carthage College’s “The Rail Splitter,” Ball State University’s “Circus in Winter,” University of Evansville’s “Master Harold” and Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s “Risata, Sciocco… Risata.”