Princeton Summer Theater to open June 17

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Rebecca Foresman ’10 stars in The Heidi Chronicles, opening June 17 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. (Photo courtesy Princeton Summer Theater)

When you’re staging five plays in a span of three months, versatility is crucial, according to Heather May ’10, artistic director of the student-run Princeton Summer Theater. “We really look for an all-around artist,” says May, who also led the company in 2008. “It’s not just someone who can act. You have to be able to have flair in other artistic avenues.”

And, adds publicity director Ariel Sibert ’12, “It’s not just singing and dancing. It’s writing and directing and building sets and painting…”

“… And designing and stage management,” May continues.

May, for example, is designing more than 100 costumes for the summer and will play the lead role in the season’s second production. When she has an extra minute, she helps to paint pixies on the posters that advertise PST’s Peter Pan, this summer’s show for families.

Nearly all of the company’s multi-talented thespians are Princeton alumni or undergraduates, including several recent graduates who have plans to pursue professional stage careers in the fall. All performances are held in the Hamilton Murray Theater at Murray Dodge Hall, and additional information is available at www.princetonsummertheater.com.

Below, a preview of the Princeton Summer Theater season.

The Heidi Chronicles (June 17-20, 24-27)

Princeton lecturer Robert Sandberg ’70 will direct the PST production of Wendy Wasserstein’s 1989 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which follows the life of one young woman and covers themes of American feminism in a span of more than two decades, from the mid-1960s to late 1980s. May says that the PST board’s mission this year was to provide “interesting, entertaining, but provocative theater with a bent toward telling stories about women.”

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The Turn of the Screw (July 1-4, 8-11)

Director Dominique Salerno ’10 will tackle Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of the classic Henry James ghost story. The production features just two actors, and May, a native of Birmingham, England, is slated to play the role of “the woman,” partly because she has the company’s best English accent. “It’s a skill set,” she jokes. “You’ve just got to use it.”

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Peter Pan (July 1-3, 8-10, 22-24, and 29-31)

Company member and aspiring playwright Shawn Fennell ’10 has written a fresh adaptation of the children’s classic, which will play for family audiences throughout July.

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Misalliance (July 15-18, 22-25, 29-Aug. 1)

The George Bernard Shaw play, billed by PST as “a satirical comedy of crashes and clashes of egos, classes and airplanes,” will be directed by Fennell. May said that Misalliance was her first choice for the 2010 season because 100 years after its debut, it remains compelling. “It reads great, and I think it’s going to play in a really fascinating, farcical, funny way,” she says. “The messages in it about the confusion of life, I think, stay true as well.”

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Fifth of July (Aug. 5-8, 12-15)

Guest director Kip Williams, who recently graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney, Australia, will make his PST debut with the production of Lanford Wilson’s 1980 Tony-nominated work. The play depicts family and friends who join together to commemorate the life of a deceased loved one but instead engage in battles for property and custody. Fifth of July was a late addition to the PST schedule, replacing Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa, which has been withdrawn from public performance due to a pending production on Broadway.