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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Theatre Season Kicks Off Sept. 19

Studio season begins with presidential drama, 'November."

Tanner Kent, Mankato Free Press, 8-23-2012

MANKATO — Paul Hustoles knows of no other department in the country that holds auditions on the first day of fall semester.

But it’s a necessity, he said, for Minnesota State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, which boasts one of the most ambi­tious production seasons in the country: 10 stage performances and two dance concerts in one academic year. And that doesn’t include four Highland Summer Theatre produc­tions.

“When students start coming back to campus, they always ask me when the first auditions are,” said Hustoles, department chair. “It’s fun to see their mouths drop when I say, ‘The first day of class.’” But that’s not all. Students will actually audition for the first three productions of the season on the first day of class.

Within the next four days of class, auditions for the next two productions will be wrapped up.

In addition, the department will be admitting its usual crop of up to 40 new students and transfers. The result, Hustoles said, is a frantic — and exhilarating — pace to start the season, which begins Sept. 19 with the presidential drama “November.” The Mainstage season opens Oct. 4 with the musical “A Chorus Line.”

“It’s a student nightmare, a test on the first day,” Hustoles said, adding that there are always a few surprises and first-year standouts during the early auditions. “It’s a very fast season, we have to start right away. ... It’s exciting for us, too.

“Fall is theatre’s spring.

It’s life-giving.”

Titled “A Sensational Season,” the performance lineup includes only one show — the aforementioned “A Chorus Line” — that has been staged previously at MSU. All others are making their MSU debut.

That’s unusual, Hustoles said, for a department that has never really tipped the 50-50 threshold, meaning 50 percent debut shows and 50 percent repeats.

With one of the largest season-ticket subscription bases among academic institutions in the country, Hustoles said he takes care to craft each season to maximize appeal to subscribers.

This year, he included “Legally Blonde,” a highly choreographed dance musical that Hustoles said he’s “wanted to do ever since I saw the movie.”

He also included “Mandrake,” a play written in 1518 by Niccolo Machiavelli. Hustoles said he keeps a personal list of plays he wants to direct before he retires and “Mandrake” has been on the list for more than 30 years because of its wicked deceit and truly Machiavellian comedy.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories on-line at

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