Wayland Baptist University’s theatre department kicks off its 2005-06 season with a series of short plays that has become an annual favorite for many. Shorts IX: Depends on You is the ninth installment of the opening production that features several short plays.
This year’s lineup is crazy all over, with each short play dealing with issues of psychiatry or craziness. Four of the plays come from a collection called Crazy and a Half, with three part of the “New York Crazy” segment and one from the “California Crazy” segment. The other two plays are stand-alone shorts dealing with similar topics, all comedic in nature.
“There are a few that have a sensitive side to them, but mostly they’re just funny plays,” said Dr. Marti Runnels, theatre director at Wayland.
Adding to the humor of this year’s production, Runnels enlisted the help of new faculty member Jeff Kensmoe, assistant professor of vocal studies and director of vocal studies and opera/musical theatre, to liven things up with musical numbers between each short play.
“I saw that most of the scripts have to do with psychiatrists and interpersonal relationships, and found some songs that go along with that,” Kensmoe said. “We’re doing several from one of my favorite composers, Gordon Myers, who writes songs that are like news fillers or clippings.”
“It’s called ‘intermezzi,’ which is an Italian term meaning sung episodes between acts of a show,” Kensmoe added.
In all, 13 short musical numbers will be interwoven into the evening, performed by Wayland music students under Kensmoe’s direction. In addition to the Myers pieces, students will perform “Cell Block Tango” from the musical Chicago, with a Stepford Wives twist, “Marry the Man Today” from Guys and Dolls, and “To Keep My Love Alive,” from an older musical.
Runnels and Kensmoe hope to collaborate more in the future, with musical theatre and opera shows performed in alternating years in the spring semester. For the next fall, Kensmoe hopes to incorporate a children’s opera program into the music offerings as a community outreach.
“We can take advantage of Marti’s experience and my experience and let the students see several angles of the theatre world, which they really need, especially if they are going to be teaching,” Kensmoe said.
Runnels said he’s glad to have someone with that expertise on board, which will make putting on a musical show much easier. For now, he’s glad to bring an added dimension to the already fun atmosphere of this year’s Shorts production.
The short plays included are as follows:
Shorts takes the stage at 8 p.m. on Sept. 23, 24, 29, 30 and Oct. 1 in the Harral Studio Theatre on the Plainview campus. Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for students. For reservations, contact the Box Office at 291-1087.