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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Theatre production of 'The Odyssey' wins national honors

Kennedy Center performance April 21

Theatre-Dance performance selected for Kennedy Center in April.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office news release [3/10/2011]

The Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Theatre & Dance’s production of Homer’s “The Odyssey” has been honored as one of four productions from throughout the nation chosen for performance at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The performance will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21.  

On Monday, April 18, local audiences also will get another opportunity to view the award-winning production. “The Odyssey” will be staged at the Ted Paul Theatre on MSU Mankato’s campus at 7:30 p.m.  Cost for tickets is $10 and will be available online at and at the Theatre & Dance Box Office, 507-389-6661 from 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, beginning March 14th.

“The Odyssey,” written and first directed by Mary Zimmerman, is directed by Paul J. Hustoles, Chair, and will be the first Minnesota State production staged at the Kennedy Center since 1976 when “Round Trip Ticket” was invited.  After its original run in November, “The Odyssey” was presented at the Region V Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival at Iowa State University on Jan. 19. From there, the National Selection Team held the show for consideration at the Washington, D.C., venue. 

“The Odyssey” was chosen from the nearly 200 productions presented at the regional festival.  The production team includes faculty emeritus Tom Bliese as scenic designer, Minnesota State Mankato Masters in Music graduate Michael Croswell as music composer and performer, and current faculty members Steven Smith, lighting, and David McCarl, costumes.  Bliese and Croswell were Nadine B. Andreas Guest Artists.  

To accommodate rehearsal time for “The Odyssey” and those involved, changes have been made to the performance schedules of two remaining Theatre & Dance productions.  For the Mainstage closer, “The Producers,” the performances at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 16 & 17, have been canceled.  The show will close with the 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16, performance.  The final Studio show, “Frozen,” will be pushed back several days and presented at 7:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, April 25-27, in the Andreas Theatre.   Anyone with tickets purchased for the originally scheduled shows will be contacted and offered substitute tickets. 

The epic story of “The Odyssey” mainly centers on the Greek hero Odysseus (or Ulysses, as he was known in Roman myths) and his 10-year journey home following the 10-year Trojan War.  In his absence, it is assumed he has died, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus must deal with a group of unruly suitors competing for Penelope’s hand in marriage.  This classic tale is vibrantly brought to life in this retelling by Zimmerman, author of “Metamorphoses,” which Minnesota State Mankato presented in 2004 in a pool of water created in the Andreas Theatre.  

The title character is portrayed by Clayton Oliver Rutschow, an Irene Ryan nominee for his role as “Nick” in Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” At the Region V Festival in Ames, Rutschow was a Finalist and finished as First Alternate to compete in Washington, DC.  Other Irene Ryan nominees from the last year who are in the cast are Joseph B. Crook, Dustin Jackson, and Deanne McDonald, all nominated from “The Odyssey”; Laura Otremba, (“Chicago”); Kim Steffen, and Megan Volkman-Wilson, (“42nd Street”); David Wasylik and Anthony De Poto (“On the Razzle”); and J. Alexander Coe (“Twelfth Night”).

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