Arts & Culture

UK Theatre's Season Focuses on Life Decisions Told in Classics and Popular Contemporary Works




LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 29, 2015) From Victorian times in London to Putnam County then to Louisiana and down the rabbit hole, the University of Kentucky Department of Theatre and Dance will stage a first place season in 2015-16 with an Oscar Wilde classic, a Tony Award-winning musical and a trip through the looking glass.

Starting the season is Oscar Wilde’s "The Importance of Being Earnest." Wilde’s satirical wit shapes this masterpiece of mistaken identity. Who is Ernest? Is he the disreputable (and fabricated) brother of the honorable Jack Worthing? Is he the pseudonym of Algernon Moncrieff, Jack’s best friend and avid supporter of so-called “Bunburyists”? Their fiancées would like to know. "The Importance of Being Earnest" invites audiences on a farcical jaunt into a world of illusion, deception and Victorian societal decorum Oct. 8-18.

Next up will be the f-u-n, fun, of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." Dust off your dictionaries and join six whiz kids in their quest to win the bee. Audience members are invited to show off their own skills in this charmingly quirky and touching Tony Award-winning musical. Whether the viewer identifies with Olive Ostrovsky, whose best friend is a dictionary; Leaf Coneybear, a homeschooler who makes his own clothes; or Marcy Park, a true overachiever in athletics, music and languages, this "Spelling Bee" offers a familiar throwback to the awkwardness of adolescence. "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" runs Nov. 12-15.

In December, the department will showcase their own students and alumni in "New Works Now!" Behind every Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright there is an emerging writer dreaming of his big break. Before a choreographer savors her company’s success she was a young artist setting works on her friends. "New Works" celebrates the creative talent and vision of students and alumni of the department. With drama, comedy, dance and more, "New Works" is a smorgasbord of homegrown, innovative and original works and works-in-progress in one epic event, Dec. 4-6.

Once again the UK Dance Program will take center stage in the new year with its fifth annual dance concert. "Shaping Space" will include a dynamic variety of dance works by faculty and guest artists including Susie Thiel, director of the UK Dance Program, Missy Lay Zimmer of Exhale Dance Tribe, and Lexington choreographers Laurie Fields and Stephanie Harris. "Shaping Space” runs Jan. 29-31.

In February, the UK Theatre will present a critically-acclaimed work from young American playwright Tarrell Alvin McCraney, "In the Red and Brown Water." Fleet-footed young athlete Oya is on the verge of womanhood, forced to make a life-altering decision: does she escape fate by accepting a track scholarship at a state university or does she stay caught in the Louisiana projects to take care of her dying mother? As Oya says in the play, "you gotta jump when you can move." She must come to terms with her identity, her sacrifice and her loss. The first play chronologically in McCraney’s "Brother/Sister Plays" trilogy, The New York Times calls this coming-of-age drama "a work of rare lyricism." "In the Red and Brown Water" runs Feb. 18-28.

The season closes with a tumble down the rabbit hole in "Alice in Wonderland," where nothing is as it seems. Alice’s whimsical adventure through Lewis Carroll’s mad world finds her in mind-bending debates with an enigmatic Cheshire Cat, a dubious caterpillar and a tea party companion, the March Hare. The cards are stacked against her when Alice finds herself face-to-face with the maleficent Queen of Hearts, a royal with a taste for beheading. Who are you? That’s the puzzle. "Alice in Wonderland" runs April 14-24.

Tickets are on sale now for the 2015-16 UK Theatre and Dance season. All productions will be presented at the Guignol Theatre. For specific times and dates, visit UK Theatre online at

Tickets for "New Works Now!" are $5 for students with a university ID and $10 for general admission. Tickets to "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" are $15 for students with a university ID and $20 for the general public. Tickets to all other shows are $10 for students with a university ID and $15 for the general public. To purchase tickets to UK Theatre and Dance's productions at Guignol Theatre, contact the Singletary Center ticket office at 859-257-4929, visit online at, or visit the ticket office in person.

The UK Department of Theatre and Dance at UK College of Fine Arts has played an active role in the performance scene in Central Kentucky for more than 100 years. Students in the program get hands-on training and one-on-one mentorship from a renowned professional theatre faculty. The liberal arts focus of their bachelor's degree program is coupled with ongoing career counseling to ensure a successful transition from campus to professional life.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716;