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Stage is set for lively Theatre & Dance season

Vibrant theatre season due for student performers, audiences.

By Nell Musolf, Free Press Correspondent [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN 8/19/2011]

Love musicals? Got it. Drama fan? You’re covered. Comedies are more your cup of tea? You’re in luck. Minnesota State Mankato's Theatre & Dance season is chock full of just about every type of theatrical entertainment imaginable.

Paul Hustoles, chairman of Minnesota State Mankato's Theatre & Dance department, is looking forward to what promises to be an exciting year that includes five studio shows and two dance concerts.

Kicking off the Mainstage Season is the popular musical “Rent.” Winner of both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony for Best Musical, “Rent” tells the story of a group of friends and the issues they face over the course of a year.

Two other musicals will also be performed during the season, “Phantom of the Opera” and “Altar Boyz.” Hustoles said that while it is unusual to have three musicals in one season, he thinks the three that were chosen will prove to be a good balance. He describes “Rent” and “Phantom of the Opera” as darker pieces, while “Altar Boyz” is much lighter hearted.

“Phantom of the Opera” and “Rent” have been among the most requested musicals for several years and both will be making their Minnesota State Mankato debuts this season.

The Studio Season has its plays selected by graduate students. Hustoles describes the Studio Season as more what people might expect to find off-broadway.

“Choices can get a little more bizarre than the Mainstage,”    Hustoles said.

Many of this year’s productions are brand new to Minnesota State Mankato, including “Altar Boyz,” “The Imaginary Invalid,” “The Shape of Things” and “Why We Have a Body.” In order to keep plays and musicals fresh, the department abides by a 10-year rule, which means they almost never do a play or musical more than one time during a 10-year period.

Productions move quickly as soon as the new school year starts. Musicals and plays are cast almost immediately and students have to hit the ground running.

Hustoles expects that “Phantom of the Opera” will be the most challenging when it comes to staging the production given the elaborate sets and costumes.

Hustoles isn’t daunted by the number of productions.

“One of our missions is to expose students and audiences to different kinds of theater,” Hustoles said. “I think we’re going to be able to do that this year.”

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