Three Productions Highlight 2016 River Campus Summer Arts Festival


Summer Series Shows Poster-2016 PRINTCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 2, 2016 – An extended season at Southeast Missouri State University’s third annual River Campus Summer Arts Festival will bring three productions — “Always… Patsy Cline,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Honk! Jr.” – to its stages over two weeks in June.

“We are excited to offer an expanded summer season with something for everyone,” said Rhonda Weller-Stilson, associate dean and director of the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts. “All three shows have a Southern theme.  We open with ‘Always . . . Patsy Cline’ and its wonderful classic country music. Audiences will laugh and cry at the hit show ‘Steel Magnolias,’ and children will delight at the musical ‘Honk! Jr.’”

Weller-Stilson says the growing summer lineup follows two successful summers in which six of eight performances of “Nunsense” sold out in 2014 and all 10 “Seussical” shows sold out last summer.

Performances of “Always . . . Patsy Cline” are slated for 7:30 p.m. June 16, 21, 24, 26 and 29 and 2 p.m. Sunday June 19 in the Wendy Kurka Rust Flexible Theatre at the Southeast River Campus. Tickets are $20.

“Honk! Jr.” will be performed in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 17, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 19. Tickets to these performances are $10. Two free performances of “Honk! Jr.” are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, as part of the River Campus Summer Arts Festival.

Performances of “Steel Magnolias” are set for 7:30 June 17, 18, 22, 23 and 28 and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 26, in the Wendy Kurka Rust Flexible Theatre at the River Campus. Tickets are $20.

Weller-Stilson says this summer will see the return of summer repertory theatre in Cape Girardeau.

“Years ago, the University theater rotated three shows for a summer season at the Rose Theatre.  We have not had the chance to bring back repertory theatre until this summer season,” she said. “It will provide a new experiential learning opportunity for our theatre and dance students.”

“Always… Patsy Cline,” by Ted Swindley, is the musical true story of Patsy Cline’s friendship with a Houston housewife that began at one of Cline’s concerts and lasted until her untimely death. The show will be directed by Michael McIntosh, assistant professor with the Department of Theatre and Dance, with musical direction by Joshua Harvey.

“Always… Patsy Cline” is a fun, song-filled valentine. It offers fans who remember Cline while she was alive a chance to look back, while giving new fans an idea of what seeing her was like and what she meant to her original fans,” McIntosh said. “You’ll get to relive a Patsy Cline concert with the hits that made her famous: ‘Anytime,’ ‘Walkin’ After Midnight,’ ’I Fall to Pieces’ and ’Crazy’ to name a few.

“We’re bringing the Grand Ole Opry to Cape Girardeau,” he said. “‘Always… Patsy Cline’ is a story of the endurance of friendship and good music.”

The cast includes Jacqueline Kiefner as Patsy Cline and Holly Lynn as Louise, joined by Joshua Harvey, piano; Matt Gates, guitar; Sam Godwin, bass; Chris Wilson, drums; Jeffrey Luetkenhaus, scenic designer; James Miller, costumer designer; and Jonathan Allender-Zivic, lighting designer.

Also highlighting the summer season will be “Honk! Jr.,” a show set on a farm and based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Ugly Duckling.” The play was written by Anthony Drewe and George Stiles. The production will be directed by Hilary Peterson, along with Jeffrey Luetkenhaus, scenic designer; Chris Golightly, costume designer; and Nick Hart, lighting designer. The cast consists of children from the community ages 10 to 15 who are registered for the “Honk! Jr.” Workshop. Their parts will be determined on the first day of rehearsal.

“Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, we will present two complimentary performances of ‘Honk! Jr.’ at the River Campus Summer Arts Festival on June 18,” Weller-Stilson said.

This summer’s repertory theatre also features “Steel Magnolias,” the story of the bond among a group of Southern women as delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel. This comedy is sure to bring laughs to the whole family. The show will be directed by Kenn Stilson, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance.

“Steel Magnolias is still one of the most popular plays in America, and we’re excited to bring this professional production to Cape Girardeau,” he said. “It centers on the friendship of six Southern women who gossip, needle and harangue each other through the best of times, while they comfort and care for one another through the worst. The play alternates between hilarious and touching, which is one of the primary reasons why it has remained so popular.

“Robert Harling was inspired to write Steel Magnolias after his sister Susan died of complications from diabetes, so its premise is so painfully truthful,” Stilson said. “Yet, the characters are all based on people from the playwright’s actual life, and we feel like we know these ladies. They are our friends, our relatives, our sisters, mothers, aunts and acquaintances.”

The production casts Madison Doty as Truvy, Alexandra Burke as Annelle, Brook Hildebrand as Clairee, Cidney Woodson as Shelby, Hannah Brake as M’Lynn and Emmani Cunningham as Ouiser, joined by Jeffrey Luetkenhaus; scenic designer; Deana Luetkenhaus, costumer designer; and Jonathan Allender-Zivic, lightning designer.


Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by calling (573) 651-2265 or by visiting