The project was initiated by Daniel Guyette, dean of the College of Fine Arts at USD, as a way to serve the demand of a growing population base and to support the university's new B.F.A. program in musical theatre performance. The playhouse was created with the support of USD President Jim Abbott and the USD Foundation.
"We wanted to build on the tradition of excellent summer theatre established at the Black Hills Playhouse and bring it to the eastern side of the state," Guyette said. "We also wanted to create additional opportunities for our students and faculty to perform, direct and design for professional theatre in the region."
The South Dakota Playhouse will start with one musical theatre production this year and over the next several years build to a total of three productions, which will include a large and a small musical and a popular comedy or drama.
Performances in Vermillion will be held at the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre and at the historic Orpheum Theatre, in Sioux Falls, with the possibility of adding shows in Sioux City, IA, and regular exchanges with the Black Hills Playhouse.
The inaugural production, Forever Plaid, is based on a book by Stuart Ross with musical continuity supervision and arrangements by James Raitt. The musical features four young male singers who were killed in a car accident in the 1950s on their way to their first big concert. Now, however, they are miraculously revived for the posthumous chance to fulfill their dreams and to perform the show that never was.
Beautiful, four-part harmony in popular hits from the 1950s and ?60s, along with the light, fast-paced comic action makes for an unforgettable evening of musical theatre.
Charlotte Guyette, a professional actress, director and professor of theatre at USD will direct Forever Plaid. Performances will be in Vermillion June 16-17 and June 23-24 at 8 p.m., and June 25 at 2 p.m. in the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre. The musical will be performed in Sioux Falls at the Orpheum Theatre June 30 at 7 p.m., July 1 at 8 p.m., and July 2 at 2 p.m.
Auditions and interviews for technical positions were held in Vermillion in the Warren M. Lee Center for The Fine Arts, on Feb. 22.
Auditions and technical interviews will also be held at the University of Sioux Falls on Feb. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. Singers/actors and theatre technicians wishing to audition or interview can call 605-677-4742 to make an appointment.