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'Grey Gardens' to open Feb. 25

RELEASED: Feb. 18, 2010

Grey Gardens headerEAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire department of music and theatre arts will present "Grey Gardens" at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25-27 and March 3-6 in Kjer Theatre. A matinee performance will be held at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 28.

"Grey Gardens" tells the story of the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The two women, once among the most recognizable names of the pre-Camelot era, become social recluses, living in a dilapidated 28-room mansion in East Hampton, N.Y. The production is set in two eras: 1941 when the estate was in its prime, and 1973 when it was reduced to squalor. The musical tells the humorous yet heartbreaking story of Edith Bouvier Beale and daughter "Little" Edie.

The production is directed by Richard Nimke, associate professor of theatre, and features Dr. Mitra Sadeghpour, associate professor of music, and Dr. Toni Poll-Sorensen, professor of dance, as Edith Bouvier at different points in her life.

While they have collaborated on musicals as director, choreographer and musical director in the past, the production will mark the first time Nimke will be directing Poll-Sorensen and Sadeghpour as actors.

"We have talked about performing together for a while and this seemed like a good vehicle. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with them, and they add a lot to rounding out the cast," said Nimke.

He immediately fell in love with the musical when he heard its score and learned more about the play's real-life characters.

"It is a wonderful mix of styles. It's truly a beautiful and moving score. Then when I read the book of the musical and started researching the actual Edith and Edie Beale I found the characters utterly compelling.

"If a playwright made up this story you wouldn't believe it, but truth is stranger than fiction," he said.

Cast members for "Grey Gardens" are senior Cameron Cylkowski, St Paul, Minn., as Joe Kennedy and Jerry; freshman Marie Gustafson, Wausau, as Jackie B. Bouvier; junior Steph Kass, Cedarburg, as Lee Bouvier and Dance Captain; senior C.J. Krueger, Rochester, Minn., as Brooks and Brooks Jr.; senior Charlene Lucht, Greenville, as Little Edie Beale in Acts I and II; senior Eddie Neve, DeForest, as Major Bouvier and Norman Vincent; senior Angela Nieman, Milwaukee, as Sister Marla and Little Edie body double; Sadeghpour, as Big Edie in Act I; and Poll-Sorensen as Big Edie in Act II.

Senior Tyler Morris, Stillwater, Minn., is the stage manager; seniors Autumn Wilson, Poynette, and Tyler Edmondson, Appleton, are assistant stage managers; Kevin Gawley, assistant professor of theatre, is the scenic and lighting designer; Mallory Prucha Rishoi, artist in music and theatre arts, is the costume designer; and senior Kaysee Schmidt, Balsam Lake, is the student costume designer. Nobuyoshi Yasuda, associate professor of music, is the production's musical conductor.

Tickets, available at the Service Center (715-836-3727 or 800-949-8932), are $12 for the general public, $10 for those 62 and older and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff, $8 for those 17 and younger and $3 for students with a university ID. Tickets for campus events also are available at the ticket office in the Haas Fine Arts Center lobby weekdays from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

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KJ/RD/DW

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