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Thornton Wilder's Timeless 'Our Town' Produced by MSU Theatre and Dance

(Poster design courtesy Missouri State Theatre & Dance)

The Missouri State University Theatre and Dance Department presents Thornton Wilder's classic11938 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Our Town November 20-23 in Craig Hall Coger Theatre.  Directing this production is a new member of the MSU Theatre and Dance faculty, Assistant Professor Melanie Dreyer-Lude.  She came here from the theater faculty of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and says, "I was very glad to come back to the Midwest"--not least because the dean at Cornell was forced, for economic reasons, to cut their theater department budget in half!
Our Town had already been selected as the MSU fall Theatre & Dance production by Interim Department Head Dr. Christopher Herr prior to Dreyer-Lude's arrival.  But given the choice of directing another show or sticking with Our Town, she enthusiastically chose the latter.  "I've actually directed Our Town before, at Cornell, and I love the play.  It's timeless, it's classic, it's touching, and it works. It's always worked for me."

Set starting in 1901 in the fictional village of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, the play looks at the everyday lives of ordinary people and weaves their stories together over a dozen-year timeframe.  The three acts progress from the seemingly inconsequential routines of daily small-town life, to love and marriage, to death and eternity and the seldom-realized significance of each moment our our earthly existence.

Director Melanie Dreyer-Lude says the play "encourages  us to recognize that every day in our lives we take so many things for granted... the people in our lives, the wonderful things that we already have."  Give the year the play debuted, 1938, with the world just coming out of the Depression and the ominous rumblings in Europe, Dreyer-Lude says Wilder, "as with many artists, was trying to wake us up and say, 'Hang on a second! We're valuing all the wrong things.  Let's stop for a moment, take a breath, and remember how important the simple things in life are.' In that, Our Town remains timeless." To emphasize the timeless nature of the story, Our Town is usually performed with only minimal sets, scenery and props, a tradition upheld in this new MSU production. 

Performances in Coger Theatre will be Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 20-22 at 7:30pm and Sunday Nov.23 at 2:30pm. Melanie Dreyer-Lude feels "it's just a shame it only runs one weekend.  I hope folks won't miss it."

For information call the MSU "TIX" number, 836-7678 or visit

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning Arts News. Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's Ozzie Award in 2006.