‘Picnic’ brings a small Kansas town to the Ball State stage this February

Topic: College of Fine Arts

January 25, 2011

Picnic195.jpg
Luke Fattorusso and Ella Raymont show off their feelings while in character as Hal and Madge in the production of "Picnic."
The latest play coming to the Ball State University Theatre introduces a small town in Kansas where everyone yearns for happiness but only a few have the courage to find it. The story of Hal Carter stumbling into the lives of Flo Owens and her daughters, Madge and Millie, premieres Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m. "Picnic" also will be shown Feb. 11–12 and Feb. 16–19 at 7:30 p.m. with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Feb. 13.

A cast of Ball State theater students will tell the story of rough and handsome Hal, who arrives in the hometown of the Owens family to find work and visit Alan, an old college friend. When Hal meets Flo's elder daughter, Madge, they fall in love. The trouble is Madge is, dating Alan, and the calm little town in Kansas is about to be turned upside down.

"Picnic" debuted on Broadway in 1953. William Inge wrote the play and received a Pulitzer Prize for the script. Paul Newman's own Broadway debut was in the original run of "Picnic," in which he was cast as the character Alan, only later to take over the lead role of Hal.

"The production will attempt to re-create and evoke a slice of 1953 with a richly detailed set, period costumes and superior acting," said Michael O'Hara, director of "Picnic." "The play is a love story, but one that has a realistic, rather than a romantic, ending."

O'Hara finds the human elements of misfortune and falling in love — both themes found in a drama like "Picnic" — to be a welcome change for a director from themes of a big musical or comedy. "One of the great joys in working on this type of a purely dramatic show is that everyone — actors, designers, directors — is focused on creating the most intensely real characters and situations possible," O'Hara said.

The director said he's hoping for a sensation. "If we are successful, it can be breathtaking; the feeling that we are actually watching someone fall in love, suffer heartbreak, or yearn for the future — to be completely allowed to witness an utterly human moment."

Tickets for the performance cost $12.50 for the general public, $11.50 for faculty and staff, $9.50 for senior citizens, and $6.50 for students. They are available from the University Theatre Box Office, open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the box office at 765-285-8749 or visit www.bsu.edu/theatre for more information.

By Samantha Irons

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