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Play brings dating problems to the stage

October 19, 2006

Love, humor and ultimate humiliation are a great mix for a play, but the classical comedy “She Stoops to Conquer” has a different style.

“It’s a laughing comedy with a complex plot that ties everything together,” said Gorden Hedahl, director and theater professor. “It has stood the test of time and still has that neat history within it.”

The performance will be in the Blanche Davis Theatre of Kleinpell Fine Arts Building Oct. 19-21 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are $12 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.

The theater department chose the play because in a four-year cycle, every play must have a different genre to it, he said. If a student stays at UW-River Falls for their entire four-year degree and attends every play each semester, they will have seen four major different varieties of material.

“I have been teaching theater for 36 years and did four shows before the fall of 2005,” Hedahl said about his experience of directing. “I want to finish my career focusing on theater; it’s a different kind of energy.”

The premise of the play is based on a younger gentleman who is interested in a courtship with a young lady, but can’t bring himself to talk to her, Hedahl said.

According to Hedahl’s director’s notes, playwright Oliver Goldsmith wrote the play as a “laughing comedy” in response to the “sentimental comedies” that had been so popular in the 18th century.

“With his brilliantly complicated plot based on misunderstandings, practical jokes, mistaken identities, and commentary on the customs and manners of the time, Goldsmith created a new model for comedies based on a ‘portrait of human folly and frailty,’”

Hedahl stated in his notes. “All of the strands of the plot are wonderfully tied up and tied together, and by the end of the evening we hope that the only tears shed are those of Mrs. Hardcastle, whose plots and plans are happily foiled. We hope that you enjoy the play.”
Character Kate Hartcastle is played by River Falls native Dana Clausen, who moved to New York City right after high school.

“I have been in many, many plays and musicals — I actually couldn’t tell you an exact number,” she said. “It’s probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 30.”

The main character then misrecognizes her as a barmaid while dressed as a less-sophisticated woman, but in turn she stoops him because she knows he is shy around her.

“It is so similar still today with all the confusion of responding between men and women,” Hedahl said. “The blind date aspect of the play is just like what young people are doing today.”

Mike McKay, an avid actor in many theater productions, is taking on his last role during his career at UW-RF, as he is graduating in December, Hedahl said.

“He has had a number of leading roles, like in ‘Rocky,’ ‘Cabaret,’” he said. “Everything has ranged from serious plays like ‘Two Rooms.’ I have seen him do a whole range of things.”

Hedahl said he directed McKay’s first play, and he has been involved on stage in significant roles ever since he started at UW-RF.

Not only are there veteran actors in the cast, but many first-year students auditioned and received major roles in the play, he said. The actors come from all different majors.
Clausen is a first-year music major.

“I hope to be in many more productions while I’m attending UW-RF,” Clausen said. “I think we have a quality theater program with a lot of talented professor directors and student actors.”

Ever since she won a tap dancing duet with her sister, she said she fell in love with performing. Since then, Clausen has trained with some of the best vocal, dance and acting instructors in the Twin Cities and New York City, including Children’s Theatre Company, Broadway Dance Center, and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

“It is a good mix of actors,” Hedahl said. “They are working very hard in a very short period of time.”

The cast began working Sept. 17, reviewing the script and working on lines Thursdays through Sundays, he said.

“It’s only been one month of working on this play,” Hedahl said. “It’s been pretty quick with people working very hard for three hours a night.”

Tickets are on sale now at the University Box Office. The phone number for the office is 715-425-3114 or 1-800-228-5423. Visit the Web site at http://www.uwrf.edu/scta.