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Russian farce to debut at University Theatre

Friday, October 03, 2014

LAWRENCE— A sophisticated and farcical comedy, “Tovarich” relates the tale of a Russian grand duchess and her prince in Paris on the run from the Bolsheviks, who have overthrown the Russian monarchy.  The play will open Oct. 17 at University Theatre.

Performances are Oct. 17-18 and 24-25 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 19 and 26 at 2:30 p.m.

“This play is really a fairy tale told in reverse – a riches to rags story. ‘Tovarich’ is also a surprisingly rich history lesson,” said John Staniunas, director and theatre professor. “Though a very fun play, ‘Tovarich’ has a strong emphasis on ethics and principles. It is a fascinating look at how Russia became the USSR.”

In “Tovarich,” Tatiana and Mikail are forced to live as commoners and take employment as housemaid and butler in the home of a wealthy banker. Though not well-known today, the play was very popular when first written in the 1930s and even adapted into a madcap film starring Claudette Colbert and Charles Boyer in 1937. “Tovarich,” which means comrade in Russian, is an outlandish comedy of manners, disguise and revelation.

“The play touches on the driving forces behind the Russian Revolution and calls into question what the ripple effects of this world event are still today. Why did the Soviet system collapse? Was it a grand experiment that failed after 50 years? Who is Russia today?” Staniunas said. “It has so much interesting commentary that still resonates in the news today.”

The company includes Melissa Berger, Leawood sophomore, as Helene; Elissa Bowen, Kansas City, Missouri, sophomore, as Tatiana; Adrian Brothers, Lawrence junior, as Brekenski; Joshua Greene, Albany, Missouri, senior, as Chauffourier; Sophia Hail, Tulsa, Oklahoma, junior, as Louise; Isabella Hampton, Overland Park junior, as Madame Van Hermert; James Lamb, Sutherland Shire, Australia senior, as Martelleau; Aden Lindholm, McPherson junior, as Mikail; Leah Mazur, Lawton, Oklahoma, graduate student, assistant costume designer; Kate Miller, Mission Viejo, California, sophomore, as Olga; Cale Morrow, Dodge City sophomore, as Gorochenko; Christoph Nevins, Overland Park junior, as assistant director; Colin Remick, Columbus, Ohio, senior, as Charles; John Ruzzin, Olathe freshman, as George; Emily Rose Stanley, Lafayette, Louisiana, junior, as Ferande; Katie Turkalo, Topeka senior, as stage manager, and Taylor Zitnik, Seattle, junior, as Madame Chauffourier.

It also features Richard Buswell, Kansas City guest artist, fight choreographer; Dennis Christilles, associate theatre professor and artistic director, scenic and lighting designer, and Kelly Vogel, visiting assistant scenography professor, costume designer.

Tickets for “Tovarich” are on sale now at KU ticket offices and online at www.kutheatre.com. Tickets are also available by calling the University Theatre, (785) 864-3982, and the Lied Center, (785) 864-ARTS. Tickets are $18 for adults, $17 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff, and $10 for children. KU student tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

For more information on the University Theatre, visit www.KUTheatre.com. Follow KU Theatre on Twitter (@KU Theatre).