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John Kinzer
IU Department of Theatre and Drama
jkinzer@indiana.edu
812-855-0514

Jennifer Piurek
University Communications
jpiurek@indiana.edu
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Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2009

IU Theatre and Drama to present collegiate premiere of rock musical 'The Rockae'

Adapted by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, The Rockae is based on The Bacchae by Euripides

WHAT: The Rockae,a rock musical with music and lyrics by Peter Mills, adapted from Euripedes' The Bacchae by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel
WHEN: Aug. 27-29 at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 30 Sunday matinee, 2 p.m.
WHERE: Wells-Metz stage at the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center
TICKETS: $15 and $10 for students. For ticket information, call 812-855-1103 and ask for information about Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center tickets or purchase in person at the IU Auditorium box office Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. or at the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center box office, which opens one hour before curtain. To purchase tickets by phone, call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000, or buy online at http://www.theatre.indiana.edu/. No photography or video permitted during performances.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 14, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- To usher in the new 2009-2010 school year at Indiana University, the IU Department of Theatre and Drama will present the collegiate premiere of The Rockae, an edgy, rock musical adaptation of Euripides' The Bacchae. The show opens Thursday, Aug. 27, at 7:30 p.m., and will be directed at IU by Emmy Award-winning director/choreographer George Pinney with musical direction by Drama Desk-nominated writer Peter Mills, who wrote the music and lyrics for the show.

theatre production photo

Trenton G. Hulen accompanies a duel between Pentheus (guest artist Nehal Joshi) and Dionysis (guest artist Devin Ilaw) in the premiere musical presentation of "The Rockae" by the Department of Theatre and Drama in the Wells-Metz Theatre.

Print-Quality Photo

In this '80s glam rock version of the classic story, the mortal King Pentheus takes on Dionysus and his female groupies -- rejecting Dionysus' claims to divinity -- when the god of wine and theater returns to Thebes. The show opens with a long-haired, shirtless male rocker singing "let them tremble to behold me" as if he's making an MTV video. Mills seamlessly combines the intensity of hard rock with the violence of ancient Greek tragedy.

"I just find it an incredible concept to do Eurpides' The Bacchae and turn it into a rock musical," said director and IU Professor of Theatre and Drama George Pinney, head of the department's Musical Theatre program and a Tony Award nominee. "The ego, the outrageousness of glam rock plays so well in the dramatic action of the gods."

The audience will walk into the Wells-Metz Theatre and feel like they're walking into a construction site -- complete with actors in hard hats and warning signs in which an old temple is being refurbished. "The audience will be like a character in the show, and a lot of the performers' comments will be addressed to the audience," said Pinney, adding that the configuration of the theater will force the audience to be one-on-one with actors.

Dionysus will be played by Devin Ilaw, a former series regular on NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." A classically trained pianist who conducted the world premiere of Silver Bullet Trailer off-Broadway, Ilaw has served as musical director for numerous cabarets and concerts at The Triad, The Duplex and the Laurie Beechman at the West Bank. He will serve as music director and conductor for the upcoming off-Broadway production of Imelda with the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre this fall.

Bridget Beirne

Bridget Beirne

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Bridget Beirne, a professional actor who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Boston Conservatory, will play Agave. Pentheus will be played by Nehal Joshi, who has appeared in HBO's "The Wire," in the film Blackout andwas part of the original revival cast of Les Miserables. Gordon Stanley, who plays Cadmus, appeared in seven original Broadway casts, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Beauty and the Beast and Ragtime, whose film and TV credits include Beauty and the Beast, Pocohontas and "Law and Order: CI."

IU student actors in The Rockae, all studying musical theater, include Francesca Arostegui (chorus woman, sophomore Bachelor of Fine Arts); Andrew Brewer (a soldier, senior Bachelor of Fine Arts); Lovlee Carroll (Phrygia, a senior Bachelor of Fine Arts); Trenton G. Hulen (a cowherd, a senior Bachelor of Fine Arts); Gina Ricci (AutonoŽ, junior Bachelor of Fine Arts); Jenna Schneider (chorus woman, sophomore Bachelor of Fine Arts); Hana Slevin (Lydia chorus woman, sophomore Bachelor of Fine Arts); and Mandy Striph (Ino, a senior Bachelor of Fine Arts). Tamrin Goldberg (chorus woman) is a sophomore majoring in dance and philosophy at Barnard College.

In addition to director/choreographer Pinney, composer/musical director/co-adapter Mills and co-adapter Cara Reichel, the creative team is rounded out by scenic designers Nick Passafiume and Katie McDermott, both IU Master of Fine Arts students in scenic design; costume designer Robbie Stanton, costume studio supervisor for all Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center and Brown County Playhouse productions; lighting designer Chris Wood, an IU Master of Fine Arts student in lighting design; stage manager David Grindle, who teaches stage management at IU and has stage managed productions across America specializing in large-scale opera; and assistant director Tom Robson, a Ph.D. student in Theatre History at IU.

"I think people will be absolutely wowed," said Pinney. "I think the music is brilliant. It's completely different from anything we've ever done before -- the first pure 'rock musical' we've ever done."

For more information about IU's Department of Theatre and Drama, see http://www.indiana.edu/~thtr/. Cast bios can be viewed starting Friday, Aug. 14.