"Fantasticks," the longest running musical in American history will be performed this weekend, and next weekend at TLU.
(Seguin) -- Texas Lutheran University is celebrating the completion of its first half of the new Caroline M. Weston Center for the Performing Arts. The performing arts center, adjoining the north and south ends of TLU's Jackson Auditorium, will serve as the new home for the university's Department of Dramatic Media and the School of Music programs.
Excited about the new black box, a 6,200 square foot studio theater with seating for an audience of approximately 200, is Chair Professor David Legore. Legore says the new two-story dramatic media center is the first part of the multi-million dollar project to open.
"For us, we have a home now. We've kind of been nomads. We've been lucky enough to work out of Jackson Auditorium ever since I arrived, but the students finally have a home base. As a result, they're going to feel like they're valued. They're going to feel like they can invest themselves in this place, and they always have, but I think they really feel valued now. It's going to help us in recruiting for the future, because we have a better venue to show off for them. So we're looking forward to how that will play out over the next five to 10 years in terms of our growth. So all of that is the up side," said Legore.
Legore says the new space will definitely provide the flexible live theater and studio production space that has been needed by the dramatic media department for quite some time.
"I mean the performance space is a big one, but we also have now centralized our office activities as well. We have three faculty members who are here on site with our offices. We got new dressing rooms. We've got a green room that allows the students, when they're in performance, to be hanging out and waiting for their time on stage, or it's just a lounge area when they need a place to hang out. So that's the primary focus of this performance space. Then the proximity to existing resources, like our scene shop, which is a part of Jackson Auditorium -- was an important part of how we designed this space. So we could still be close to all of that activity, (and) then be reunited, really, for the first time in about 20 years with our performing artist colleagues, because we've been separated out, because of growth in the fine arts building. We were the easiest group to, sort of say 'hey, we'll be nomadic and we'll go over to Jackson' for -- I think when I raised my hand and said, 'yeah, we can go function in Jackson for a while.' I had much different impression of the timing. So now 20 years later, we get to reunite with all of our colleagues as they move in on their side, on the north side of the building. That will create a fun energy where our students and sometimes our students over lap. They might be doing choir while they're working with me. They'll do band while they're working with us as well. So that'll be fun for our students who have put a lot of steps on the Fitbit, so to speak over the years as they go back and forth between these two venues on campus that are quite distant," said Legore.
Although the dramatic media theater program is gearing up for its first performance this weekend with the production of "The Fantasticks," Legore says he can't but help imagine all other limitless possibilities that this new facility will offer students.
"Well it's exciting. I've got to be honest. We will have to play with that stuff for the coming couple of years, before we really truly use this space to its potential. Every show is going to be different. We're going to be doing Othello later in the year and that's going to be a much different kind of style of show -- probably more media integration. This first show is a little bit more traditional, (with) singing and acting. Some of the toys that we're going to have to play with aren't as important for this first show, but later on as we get to learn how to use this space, the new toys will be very, very helpful to us," said Legore.
TLU is inviting the community to experience its new live studio and production theater during this weekend's performance of "The Fantasticks." The show is said to be a funny and romantic musical about a boy, a girl, and their two fathers who try to keep them apart. Legore says the theater, which adjoins the south end of Jackson Auditorium is set to capture the hearts of its first audience ever in this new space.
"Well the first show in any space is a special opportunity, and we didn't want to take the lightly. I thought long and hard -- what do we do for our first event? Ultimately, I decided to do something that would have some mainstream appeal, that would be more or less family friendly to a wide range of audiences. The piece we ended up choosing is the longest running musical in American History. It's called 'The Fantasticks,' (and it) first launched in about 1960, (and) had to run in an off Broadway theatre for decades, and then at one point, I think after like four years it took a break, but then it came back. So all told it's the longest running musical in American history. It has been a success. It's a classic love story, but also with a little bit of a deeper message to it. Boy meets girl, and boy screws up. Boy goes off to seek his adventure, and then realizes he's made some mistakes and comes back home. So it's a little bit of a prodigal son returning sort of a story line," said Legore.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the Weston Center Studio Theatre in the new performing arts center. Tickets are $10 per person, or $5 for senior citizens. It's free to anyone with a valid TLU ID. The performance is set to debut in the new two-story dramatic media center built as part of the new Caroline M. Weston Center for the Performing Arts.
The dramatic media performance space on the south side of the old Jackson Auditorium building is just a small part of the changes that are included in the new Caroline M. Weston Center for the Performing Arts. Next week, we'll feature a look at the new space that's also being created for TLU's School of Music.