University Theatre and Friends of the Theatre, a support organization for the theatre, will be hosting a fundraising event in the style of a variety show featuring talent from both alumni and current students in the department.
The collection of performances, including alumni Kip Niven, Doug Weaver, Gail Trottier, and Jeanne and Ric Averill, has been aptly entitled, "Fools in Love," given its April 1 production day.
“We wanted to put something together that the audience would enjoy and that we thought we could pull off in the few weeks that we had,” Jack Wright, the director of the variety show and retired University theatre professor said. “Our main focus was finding something that our audience would enjoy and I think we have a great one on our hands with the talent that’s agreed to participate.”
The fundraiser, acting as an offshoot of the Alums Come Home initiative that brings theatre alumni back to the University, will benefit the KU Student Enrichment Fund that aims to benefit students looking to travel or gain new experiences that they wouldn’t have by staying at the University.
“We try to do a fundraiser every year for the Theatre Department and I think this year the fundraiser has proved to benefit the students involved as well,” Wright said.
Sarah Van Zwoll, a sophomore studying musical theatre from Overland Park, said being able to be a part of "Fools in Love" with the eight alums means more than just a potentially successful fundraiser.
“I think it's a really neat thing to be able to come back to your Alma Mater and help the new generation to grow and develop,” Van Zwoll said. “But not only that, I think it’s definitely important for the students. It’s an amazing opportunity to talk to people who have done it and proves that we can do it too, regardless of the struggles or doubts you may be feeling at the time.”
For the theatre department to bring alumni back to help the program, Van Zwoll said it shows how much the University wants their students to succeed.
“It shows how much the university cares about us, not only as students, but as artists,” Van Zwoll said. “We’re such a tight-knit group, we call the hall 'Murphy High' because there aren’t really a lot of us and it feels like high school again. To have a university that cares as much as the students means a lot.”
Van Zwoll also said that she’s looking forward to the performances themselves and said that because it’s a variety show, “there will be something for everyone.”
“I’m a part of 'Little Women' that will be showing next week, so at the end of the variety show we’re just doing a couple songs from that as a preview so I’m really looking forward to seeing the other performances,” Van Zwoll said.
She also said "Fools in Love" would be something fun to go see on Friday night since it's not just one play or musical but a whole bunch of genres and styles from exceptionally talented people. Wright said he agreed, calling the event a potentially “cheap but engaging date,” as the entrance fee for students will only be $10.
“There will be a cash bar and hors d'oeuvres available and with the variety of performances, it will certainly be interesting and enjoyable,” Wright said. “It’s been wonderful directing the alums, many of whom I’m good friends with. I’m glad we’ve had this opportunity for the department as well as for the students.”
"Fools in Love" opens this Friday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will be hosted at Maceli's Banquet Hall located at 1031 New Hampshire St.
— Edited by Mackenzie Walker