For the first time ever members of Newman University's Theatre Department will present a play never before witnessed on stage. The play "How the Dog Runs" will be performed in the Jabara Theatre at Newman University at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10 through Saturday Oct. 12. The theatre troupe will give its last presentation at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13.
The play is free for Newman students with ID. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, NU faculty, staff, military, and $5 for non-Newman students. Tickets will be available at the door.
The play is written by Dan O'Neil who is a writer for stage and screen. O'Neil graduated in May 2011 with an M.F.A in dramatic writing from Carnegie Mellon University.
"We looked at plays that have never been produced before and we picked 'How the Dog Runs' because of its stageability, its fit with Newman's talent and the style of play," theatre student Wesley Williams said. "This play is nothing like we have done before."
The play will be directed by adjunct theatre instructor and professional actor, Ray Wills, and produced by Newman Theatre Director, Mark Mannette. Wills is a Wichita native and Broadway star. He appeared in more than 1,000 performances of "The Producers" and performed in "Big," "Wonderful Town" and "Anna Karenina."
"I am excited for the students to be able to define the roles," Mannette said. "It has never been done before so it is a completely new experience."
"How The Dog Runs" is a darkly humorous play about a family coping with wedding announcements, dysfunctional relationships, and the death of their matriarch all on the same weekend.
"Playwright Dan O'Neil has fashioned a meditation on life, love, death, dogs, and what might await us in the afterlife," Mannette said.
O'Neil's previous work has been produced or developed in famous locations such as the International Festival of Art and Ideas, the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, N.Y.
O'Neil describes his play as a comic drama about family, death, and dogs. There have only been two read-throughs of "How the Dog Runs" before; one in New York City at the Workshop Theater and one in Tivoly, N.Y., at the NEWvember New Play Festival both in 2012.
Not only is it a world premiere, but the cast is also composed of unexpected members.
Francisco "Pancho" Fields of Newton will be serving as the assistant director of the play.
Laura Morrissey, who just arrived this semester from Newman University, Birmingham, England, will take on the role of Rachel. Morrissey is an exchange student who was brought back to Wichita by senior theatre student Rusty Carbaugh who spent last semester attending the English university.
"I am completely overwhelmed. I cannot believe I have been given the opportunity, especially when they could have chosen an American girl for an American character," Morrissey said. "I am very much looking forward to it all."
In addition, Ben Juhnke, technical director/designer and theatre instructor at Newman, will originate the role of Uncle Ray.
The complete cast members are:
Justin Ralph of Wichita as Michael
Laura Morrissey of Birmingham, England, as Rachel
Brittany Jonas of St. Louis, Mo,. as Kat
Francisco "Pancho" Fields of Newton as Jerry
Maggie O'Neal of Blue Springs, Mo., as Sparrow
Ben Juhnke of Wichita as Uncle Ray
Ian Ewing from Gillette, N.J., and Wesley Williams of Tonganoxie, Kan., as Paramedics