By MATT CRANE
For Starkville Daily News
Theatre MSU will close out its 2011-2012 season with a production of “Deadwood Dick, or The Game of Gold!” 7:30 p.m. tonight at the McComas Hall Mainstage Theater.
Directed by Donna Clevinger, the show runs April 12–14 with nightly performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. The play features a cast of 25 performers and eight technical crew workers.
Admission for “Deadwood Dick, or The Game of Gold!” is $10. A reception will be held tonight in the lobby following the performance.
“The cast and crew represent students from a variety of majors such as kinesiology, education, engineering and, of course, communication,” Clevinger said. “They’ve worked so hard.”
The play, written by Tom Taggart, is based on the dime novels written by Edward L. Wheeler from the late 19th century. Wheeler began writing his dime novels in 1876 about a “Robin Hood of the Black Hills” whom he eventually named Deadwood Dick. The playwright, Taggart, created a play rife with hilarity for which these melodramas are known.
Freshman civil engineering major Webb Means plays the part of hero Wild Bill Hickok.
“Although this is my first play at MSU, I have always enjoyed the opportunity of portraying another person on stage,” Means said. “The performance will be fantastic due to our large cast, crew and director.”
While Means and other members of the cast celebrate their first time out on the McComas stage, graduating senior and Theatre MSU veteran Grant Alexander will take his final bow as a performer this weekend.
“It is quite gratifying to have ‘Deadwood Dick’ as my last show at State,” Alexander said. “This character (Pong Ping) is a gift of a role. He is a man with a richly diverse cultural background who is both noble and brave.”
Sheriff Homer Loveless, played by senior broadcasting major Chris Roland, said the script is what drew him into the world of these characters. He said he is excited about sharing this experience with the audience.
“The script is a lot of fun, and I think the audience will see that when we perform,” Roland said.
The cast is larger than usual due to Clevinger’s idea to create roles which do not necessarily appear on the page.
“The students really came out for this,” she said, commenting on the audition process for the production. “I even added a couple of parts to use our young talent.”
MSU educator and local businessman Chip Templeton frames the show beautifully as Piano Andy. He said he has immensely enjoyed his time rehearsing and performing with the students.
“Musically, this has been a challenge and a positive learning experience for me as there is no musical score, but rather the opportunity for me to create the sounds and songs that set the moods for this production,” he said.
Clevinger said she was blessed to have Templeton join their team.
“He is the best. We are so honored and so grateful for Mr. Templeton’s time,” she said. “His expertise and his professionalism really raise the bar for us all.”
For more information or to reserve tickets in advance, call 662-325-4034 or visit http://www.comm.msstate.edu/dept/theatre .