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First Friday Presentation to Focus on
'History of the American Musical'

RELEASED: March 14, 2007

Wil Denson
Wil Denson

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire theatre professor emeritus Wil Denson will discuss "The History of the American Musical" at a First Fridays presentation March 30.

A free continental breakfast will precede the formal program at Christ Church Cathedral, located on the corner of Lake and Farwell Streets in downtown Eau Claire. Doors will open for breakfast at 8:30 a.m., and the presentation will begin at 9 a.m.

The program will discuss the rich history of this unique American art form which grew out of the minstrel and operetta forms of the early 20th century. Denson will share musical and video clips chosen from a vast number of familiar titles as he talks about the origins and the changing face of the genre from classics such as "Show Boat" to current blockbusters like "The Lion King."

Recently retired from UW-Eau Claire, Wil Denson is a long-time resident of the Chippewa Valley. He holds a doctoral degree in theatre from UW-Madison and has taught at the university level for more than 33 years. He was awarded an Excellence in Service Award from UW-Eau Claire in 1989, directed the University Theatre program for five years and directed UW-Eau Claire Summer Theatre program for 25 seasons.

In 1992 the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council granted Denson a Tributary Award for his artistic achievement in theatre. Denson's writing honors include a Dale Wasserman Laywriting Award ("Man of La Mancha"), a Wisconsin Arts Board fellowship in literature, a number of national writing honors and several awards from the Council for Wisconsin Writers.

Denson has written over 20 plays, several television and radio scripts, and screenplays for films. Eight of his plays have been published and 19 have been produced throughout the United States as well as in most English-speaking countries. His film script "Brantner" recently reached the semifinals of the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition sponsored by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, as well as finals of the Storybay Screenwriting Competition.

For the safety of the program's senior citizen audience, the event will be cancelled if the Eau Claire Area School District has cancelled or delayed classes in the case of hazardous weather.

First Fridays occurs on the first Friday of each month October through May, with the exception of January, at no cost to the senior community. The March 30 presentation replaces the first Friday in April, Good Friday, on which date the cathedral was unavailable for the program.

Persons whose "season passes" have been stamped each month will be eligible for a grand prize drawing at the May presentation. The program is funded in part by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation Community Outreach Program for the Arts, by a grant from Xcel Energy and contributions from the Great Harvest Bread Company and Elliot Roberts.

First Fridays is coordinated by Beverly Soll and Jennifer Brockpahler of the UW-Eau Claire Activities and Programs office and is hosted by Scott and Heather Kirby of Christ Church Cathedral. The mission of First Fridays is to provide no-cost entertainment and educational experiences for senior citizens of the extended Chippewa Valley community through shared community and university sponsorship.

For more information about First Fridays or to be placed on a mailing list, call 715-836-2787.

-30-

JS/NW

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