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Release: Immediate

University Theatres Mainstage ranges from Cotton Club to Shakespeare

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Season subscriptions are now on sale for the 1997-98 University Theatres Mainstage season in the University of Iowa Theater Building. Individual-event tickets will go on sale Monday, Sept. 15. A free brochure, with a complete schedule of performances, is available from the UI department of theatre arts or the Hancher box office.

The 1997-98 Mainstage productions are: the Fats Waller musical revue "Ain't Misbehavin'" in a Cotton Club setting, Oct. 2-19; Tom Stoppard's acclaimed comedy of research and romance, "Arcadia," Nov. 6-16; "Summer and Smoke" by the UI's most illustrious playwriting alumnus, Tennessee Williams, in a Golden Anniversary production Feb. 5-15; the world premiere of "Salt" by guest playwright Migdalia Cruz and director Juan Rodriguez of the Chicago Latino Theatre Company, Feb. 26-March 8; and Shakespeare's magical "A Midsummer Night's Dream," reset in the moonlit streets of New Orleans, April 2-12.

Season subscriptions, which offer a discount of 25 percent, are available in five-play or three-play packages. The five-play package includes tickets to all the mainstage productions, and the three-play package enables theatergoers to select the plays of their choice.

The brochure also includes information about the University Theatres Gallery series, which produces new plays by students in the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and spring dates for the 1998 Iowa Playwrights Festival, college theater's most ambitious showcase of new scripts.

"Ain't Misbehavin" is not a conventional dramatic narrative, but rather a high-spirited theatrical music-and-dance revue of the life, times and music of Fats Waller. Through his irrepressible character and his compositions -- including "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Black and Blue" -- Waller personifies the very soul of Harlem in the 1930s. On Broadway, "Ain't Misbehavin" was the only musical ever to win the Tony, New York Drama Critics, Drama Desk, Obie and Grammy Awards.

For the show's three-week run, the David Thayer Theatre will be transformed into a '30s Harlem nightclub, with food and beverages to complete the atmosphere.

Stoppard's "Arcadia" is an intellectual mystery, wrapped around an historical romance, as scholars attempt to determine whether Lord Byron had an affair at a country estate in 1809. Romance, delusion and Newtonian physics converge in a time-jumping romp filled with Stoppard's trademark wit and wordplay.

Tennessee Williams received his bachelor's degree from the UI department of theatre arts in the late 1930s, just before launching one of the most honored careers in American theater history. University Theatres' Mainstage production celebrates the silver anniversary of "Summer and Smoke," a sensuous and poignant story of a spinster's passionate longing.

Migdalia Cruz has been a guest artist in the department of theatre arts and the Iowa Playwrights Festival, so she was an obvious choice for the 1997-98 Partnership in the Arts project. Through Partnership in the Arts, the department of theatre arts invites prominent theatrical professionals to create significant new works at the UI in collaboration with UI students and faculty. A tale of human fortitude and redemption, "Salt" will portray a family on the fringe of life, eeking out an existence on a mountain of salt on Chicago's south side.

With its magical goings-on, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is one of Shakespeare's most popular plays. University Theatres will transplant this story to the bayous of southern Louisiana, an American locale renowned for its spiritualism and mystery. There the nocturnal maneuverings of a voodoo king and his mischievous assistant are spiced with Zydeco and Cajun music, injecting the spirit of the Mardi Gras into the Bard's poetry.

The department of theatre arts can be reached at (319) 335-2700.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Some plays in the 1997-98 season include language and situations of an adult nature. Theatergoers who are concerned about whether the shows are appropriate for them should contact the box office for additional information.