Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance announces in-person performance season

News Image The department's return to the (non-virtual) stage features a world premiere Shakespeare adaptation, new themed dance concerts, and a spring performance festival

By: Clarissa Shirley ’22  Wednesday, September 15, 2021 05:40 PM

A bilingual staged reading and a world premiere reimagining of “Romeo and Juliet” will open a new in-person season of theater and dance performance at Muhlenberg College this fall. Actors and dancers will again perform live on stage, following a mostly-virtual season in the spring of 2021.

The season marks the beginning of a transition to a more thoughtful and inclusive show selection process, under the direction of Rebecca Lustig, the department’s new director of the co-curricular/production program.

“This will be a transitional season in more ways than one,” Lustig says. “There is a strong recognition of the vital importance of creating performance as a community in the upcoming year, even as work is undertaken to discover a new normal — covid-aware as well as collaborative and inclusive.”

Faculty member Leticia Robles-Moreno, who directs the season’s opening production  — a bilingual staged reading of Caridad Svich’s play “En el tiempo de las mariposas (In the Time of the Butterflies)” — says she knew right away that she wanted to direct a piece centered around the voices of Latina women. She says she hopes this decision will empower the actors, as well as the audience.

“To me, the season brings me hope about what kind of department we can become,” she says. “You can be revolutionary, you can perform resistance with big and small gestures.”

“En el tiempo de las mariposas (In the Time of the Butterflies),” Sept. 30 – Oct 3, 2021, a staged reading directed by Robles-Moreno, written by Caridad Svich, opens the season with a powerful story of Latina feminist empowerment. Based on the true story of the Mirabal Sisters, the play unveils the women behind the myth. All performances will include Spanish subtitles.

“Call Me By Any Other Name… Just As Sweet,” Oct. 21-24, 2021, adapted and directed by visiting faculty member Nigel Semaj with new text by Jack Saleeby and Brayden Stallman, is a world premiere queer deconstruction of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” This explorative new adaptation steps outside of how we typically viewed and experienced the story of “Romeo and Juliet.” By using inspirations from Dante Alighieri's “Divine Comedy,” “Call Me By Any Other Name… Just As Sweet” examines the role of fate and who gets to love, while reimagining the narrative and staking a claim for Queer storytelling.

“Reset: New Dances,” Nov. 18-20, 2021, features eight exciting new choreographic works by Muhlenberg dancers, on the theme of renewal and reinvention. Megan Flynn serves as artistic director.

“The Saint Plays,” Dec. 1-5, 2021 — Inspired by the lives of Biblical characters and Catholic saints, Erik Ehn’s richly allusive, ecstatic, hallucinogenic performance poems cleave to hope and beauty in the aftermath of loss. The production will be directed by Muhlenberg seniors Savannah Hastings, Ashley Hilary, Katie Keller, and Maddi Whiting, alongside artistic director and faculty mentor James Peck.

“Assembly,” a performance festival running from January through May 2022, will feature five works of theatre, dance, and music, presented throughout the spring semester, on the theme of coming together. A festival announcement to arrive later within the year.

“Miss You Like Hell,” Feb. 17-20, 2022 is an intense and rambunctious new musical that celebrates the bond between mothers and daughters. Created by Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes (“In the Heights”) and acclaimed singer/songwriter Erin McKeown, and directed by visiting assistant professor Jamie McKittrick, “Miss You Like Hell” brings us along on a desperate, joyous, uniquely American road trip.

“In Motion,” March 31 – April 2, 2022, highlights dynamic dance works by faculty and guest artists. Dance faculty members Heidi Cruz-Austin and Karen Dearborn will serve as artistic directors.

Tickets for the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Season are available starting Sept. 20. Regular admission tickets for most shows are $15, while campus tickets are $8. All tickets for the staged reading of “En El Tiempo De Las Mariposas” are $5. Tickets for the musical “Miss You Like Hell” are $20 for the general public, $8 for Muhlenberg and LVAIC students, faculty, and staff.

Tickets can be purchased online at muhlenberg.edu/seeashow or by phone at 484-664-3333. Box office hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 6 p.m. and two hours before curtain. Masks are required for all patrons.

About the Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance Department
Muhlenberg offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. The Princeton Review ranked Muhlenberg’s theater program in the top twelve in the nation for eight years in a row, and Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States. Muhlenberg is one of only eight colleges to be listed in Fiske for both theater and dance.

About Muhlenberg College
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year residential, liberal arts college offering baccalaureate and graduate programs. With an enrollment of approximately 2,200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences; selected preprofessional programs, including accounting, business, education and public health; and progressive workforce-focused post-baccalaureate certificates and master’s degrees. Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, approximately 90 miles west of New York City, Muhlenberg is a member of the Centennial Conference, competing in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.