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Theatre and Performance Studies
La Salle College, "South Pacific" (1978). La Salle College Summer Music Theatre. 15.
The NEW La Salle Music Theatre
The La Salle MUSIC THEATRE: Seventeen years of Exuberance, Crisp Professionalism, and Some Incredibly Beautiful Music.
Quick now! What do the following people have in common? - dancer Judith Jamieson, television commentator Dennis - Cunningham, actor Pat Cronin, singer Cookie Metzger, former Bucks County Controller Tom Corrigan, Philadelphia Daily News editorial cartoonist Rob Lawlor, former "Miss Pennsylvania" Gale Rothwell Barrow.
If you've seen them perform at the LA SALLE MUSIC THEATRE, you've obviously been following the brilliant progress of the only college-sponsored professional summer music theatre in the nation.
MUSIC THEATRE's 17th ·season has been even more exciting this summer as Brother Gene Graham, F .S.C., took over as producer/director and brought back the ever-popular Bob Bolsover and Kate McCauley for a smashing revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's immortal South Pacific. Now comes Cole Porter's tap dancing delight Anything Goes. But there's more! Besides enjoying the triumphant return of such MUSIC THEATRE favorites Jean Williams, handling choreography, and Gerry Leahy, designing sets and costumes, you can relax before the show with refreshments under the stars on the Circus Patio or enjoy the new Pre-Show Buffet in the Carousel Room. And, because of the increased demand for group parties, MUSIC THEATRE has reinstated its Tuesday evening performances. This means that La Salle's campus will be filled with music six nights a week and twice on Saturday!
"I don't know of any other place where kids can get training in musical comedy," said Dan Rodden back in 1962 when he realized a lifetime ambition and founded. La Salle's MUSIC THEATRE. Not only has the theatre achieved its primary objective - the development of promising theatrical talent - it has established itself as one of the most popular summer entertainment vehicles in the Greater Philadelphia area.
"A jewel box of a theatre," wrote Wayne Robinson, in the Philadelphia Bulletin, a few years ago. La Salle's MUSIC THEATRE has "earned a reputation for crisp professionalism that may. well be envied by the larger, better known summer theatres," said Ernest Schier, in the Bulletin. "La Salle's summer shows have become a happy fixture in our town ... a welcome addition to the local summer theatre scene."
Since MUSIC THEATRE' s first production of Carousel back in 1962, over 315,000 patrons have attended performances of 35 different theatrical attractions in the beautiful, air-conditioned 382 seat College Union Theatre designed by Rodden on La Salle's 20th street and Olney avenue campus.
Productions have included such all-time hits as Cabaret, Music in the Air, Annie Get Your Gun, The Music Man, and My Fair Lady. There have been favorites for children of all ages like You 're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and The Fantasticks. And revivals of musicals like Knickerbocker Holiday and Allegro. Even an American Premier when Ambassador, which ran in London starring Howard Keel, made its debut at La Salle before moving onto Broadway for a short run.
Seventeen Years Young...
MUSIC THEATRE's all-time attendance record for one year was set in 1970 when 23,600 patrons - 100.7% of capacity - enjoyed a revival of Bitter Sweet and a sparkling production of Man of La Mancha. The beloved Peggy Wood, who created the role of "Sari Linden" in the London premier of Bitter Sweet in 1929, received the first "Theatre La Salle Award" prior to the opening night curtain that year for distinguished service to the American theatre outside of New York City.
Most MUSIC THEATRE companies are comprised of students, housewives, and teachers who have had some professional theatrical experience. All members of the company, including technical personnel, are salaried. Not only have theatrical careers been launched at La Salle, marriages have also been known to have begun during the summer theatrical season. Some examples of prominent MUSIC THEATRE alumni/ alumnae:
Judith Jamieson, featured performer with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. This internationally-acclaimed dancer was the subject of a full color spread in LIFE a few years ago. Jean Williams created a special dance for her in South Pacific just to showcase her beautiful skills.
Dennis Cunningham, a favorite in many of the early MUSIC THEATRE productions, is drama critic for WCBS-TV in New York. He also directed the 1966 MUSIC THEATRE productions of The Most Happy Fella and Lady in the Dark featuring his future wife, Jo Ann Forte, who is currently a standby for Constance Towers in The King and I on Broadway.
Marcus Brown, one of the most popular dancers ever to appear on the La Salle stage, was one of the stars of the first national touring company of Bubbling Brown Sugar. He is now touring the country with Sammy Davis, Jr., in Stop The World, I Want To Get Off.
Mary Lou (Cookie) Metzger is a featured soloist on The Lawrence Welk Show and is married to Richard Maloof, the show's lead base-fiddle.
Pat Cronin is one of all-time MUSIC THEATRE favorites who last appeared in leading roles in the 1974 productions of Two By Two and Out of This World. He is featured in the new NBC-TV series slated for the Fall, Windows/Doors/Keyholes. He has appeared on such TV shows as Operation Petticoat, Carter Country, All in the Family, Alice, and Big John/Little John, and has appeared on stages all over the country opposite such stars as the late Betty Grable, Tab Hunter, Dorothy Lamour, and Arte Johnson. He received wide critical acclaim for standing in on less than 24 hours notice for Mickey Rooney in See How They Run in Philadelphia in 1972.
Steve Reinhardt, the original musical director for all Godspell productions, is now on Broadway conducting the pit orchestra for the hit musical, Working.
Judy McMurdo, best remembered as "Nellie Forbush" in MUSIC THEATRE's first production of South Pacific, has appeared frequently in television and theatre including some 30 appearances as standby for the role of "Sally Bowles" in the Broadway production of Cabaret.
It's only fitting that the La Salle MUSIC THEATRE opened its 17th season with the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic South Pacific. 1979 will mark the 30th anniversary of Mary Martin/Ezio Pinza singing those glorious R&H tunes. The grand climax to the summer is the sassy, the dancing, the exuberant Any thing Goes, the show that introduced Ethel Merman to Broadway singing all those great Cole Porter songs.
As far as the future of MUSIC THEATRE goes, why don't you help us decide by filling out the enclosed ballot.