'August: Osage County' Opens MSU Fall Drama Season

The play August: Osage County is about a family homecoming of sorts. The Midwestern State University theatre production of the Tracy Letts play will be a homecoming for MSU Theatre alumni also. The department's first play of the fall season features a multi-generational cast that includes three MSU theatre alumni.

Visiting professor Matt Singletary is directing the play. Singletary graduated from Rutgers University with a Master of Fine Arts in Directing. He has worked professionally in New York and Chicago. Laura Jefferson, MSU Associate Professor of Theatre, said it was Singletary's idea to have different generations of actors to portray the members of an Oklahoma family gathering to cope with a tragedy.

The cast includes MSU theatre alums Shawn Duthie as Charlie Aiken, Paul Jefferson as Beverly Weston, and Laura Jefferson as Violet Weston.

Duthie graduated from MSU in 1996 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and has taught theater at Holliday High School for 14 years. His drama classes have made multiple trips to state UIL One-Act Play, and speech and debate contests.

Paul Jefferson graduated from MSU in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts with teacher certification then earned his MA from Louisiana State University. He taught theatre for three years at Nicholls State University in Louisiana, then went to Penn State and earned an MFA in Directing. He is a professional equity stage manager and was a stage manager at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts for 15 years before coming to Wichita Falls in 2000 when he and Laura Jefferson were married. He has taught drama at Rider High School for 15 years.

This is the first main stage production Laura Jefferson has performed in since 1998. She is retiring in May 2015 after more than 30 years with MSU. Paul Jefferson was last in an MSU production in 1977 and Duthie's last appearance was in 1997.

Professional actress Kay Capasso will play Mattie Fae Aiken, Violet's sister and Charles's wife (Duthie). Capasso earned an MFA in Acting from The Actor's Studio Drama School in New York City. She is married to Singletary.

Aside from being a chance for alumni to be part of a production, Laura Jefferson said that the arrangement was an excellent opportunity for students to work with professional actors. "It also lets the students see us being put through the paces just as we make them work," she said.

Other cast members include Katie Huitt as Barbara Fordham, Maxwell Norris as Bill Fordham, Leanne Ottaviano as Jean Fordham, Rachel Bullard as Ivy Weston, Rian Dillard as Karen Weston, Drew Davison as Little Charles Aiken, Sarah Chong-Harmer as Johnna Monevata, Erik Temblador as Steve Heidebrecht, and Michael Gilbert as Sheriff Deon Gilbeau.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 9-11, with a matinee performance at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12, in the Fain Fine Arts Theatre.

An alumni reception will be held in the foyer after that night's performance. Another homecoming event will be held in May for those who could not attend during the fall semester.

After Friday night's performance, the audience is invited to stay for a talkback session with cast and crew where they can ask questions about any aspect of the production.

Because of language and situations, the play is for mature audiences. General admission tickets are $10; $8 for pre-college students, senior citizens, and military; and free with MSU ID to faculty, staff, and students. No children under age 6 admitted. For more information or for season ticket or group ticket information, call the box office at (940) 397-4393, the publicity office at (940) 397-4399, or the Theatre Department secretary at (940) 397-4670.