Montana theater group visits NSU on national tour
TNE Editor

Montana theater group visits NSU on national tour

Published 2/7/17

Madeline Jurus

TNE Writer

The NSU drama department is known for its student-led productions put on each semester, but sometimes outside theater groups are brought to NSU for the campus and local communities to enjoy. This year the Montana Repertory Theater will come to NSU to perform “Barefoot in the Park,” a romantic comedy by Neil Simon.

“The Montana Repertory Theatre is a professional theatre company in residence at the University of Montana in Missoula,” said Cally Shine, company manager of the “Barefoot in the Park” tour. “Our mission is to tell the great stories of our world to enlighten, develop and celebrate the human spirit in an ever-expanding community. We focus on bringing the American classical canon to audiences across the country.”

The MRT has visited NSU before, the most recent time being in Feruary 2015 when they performed “The Great Gatsby.” For drama students here at NSU, this is a chance to work up-close with a professional theater group.

“On show day theatre students will wake up early and wait at the Center for Performing Arts for MRT's trucks to come in,” said Marissa Mitchell, Pettit Bay junior. “We help with the load in and load out process, as well as setting up the stage, setting lights and sound, steaming costumes, setting and sorting props, and a few students will get the opportunity to help tech the actual production that night.”

The MRT has two tours a year. In the spring they go on a national tour circuit with a mix of student actors, nonequity professionals and members from the Actors Equity Association. In the fall they go on an educational outreach tour that is designed to bring plays into schools for younger audiences to enjoy and learn about theater through the performances and workshops put on by the actors. The actors come from various places across the country to take part in these tours.

“Before my first tour I had never been east of South Dakota,” said Colton Swibold, MRT actor from Missoula, Mont. “I now have been to every state except for three. Every year we return to towns and cities that continually bring the MRT back, but there are numerous new locations we get to explore each tour. I especially enjoy the range of different audiences we perform for.”

Swibold is an Equity Actor who will be on his fourth tour with the MRT this year. He will be playing the telephone repair man in their performance of “Barefoot in the Park.”

 “I was offered a role my junior year at the University of Montana and haven’t looked back,” said Swibold. “My first role was Friar Lawrence in “Romeo and Juliet,” and as soon as I graduated I knew this was the path for me.”

NSU is able to invite theater groups such as the MRT through the Sequoyah Institute, which strives to promote the experience and understanding of fine arts beyond the classroom.

“Personally I hope to gain the experience of working with a professional theatre company,” said Susan Fenrich, Claremore senior. “This company takes their production on tour, and that's something I want to do after I graduate. I think many other members of the NSU drama department want that experience too. It's also a great way for us to get our name out there, not just with the audience members but also with the Montana Repertory Theatre. We want to show them that students from the NSU drama department are professional, knowledgeable and helpful.”

Ticket prices for students are $6 for premium seating and standard seating is free with a valid NSU ID. For more ticket prices, visit https://academics.nsuok.edu/si/PerformingArtsSeries/Tickets.aspx.

“Barefoot in the Park” is at 7 p.m., Feb. 23 at the NSU Center for Performing Arts.


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