Mar 202013

Northland Pioneer College’s Performing Arts Department will be presenting an abstract musical and a “must see” nostalgic family vacation comedy during April at the Performing Arts Center on the Snowflake/Taylor-Silver Creek Campus.
Songs for a New World, with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, sits on the boundary between musical and song cycle, but it is neither. “It is an abstract musical, a series of songs all connected by a theme: ‘the moment of decision.’ It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back,” noted Brown in describing his show. First produced off-Broadway in 1995, Songs has received worldwide acclaim.
Songs for a New World employs four performers who do not literally play the same characters throughout the show, but who do have consistently developing character arcs nonetheless. The NPC cast features Jesse Reeck, Kamery Solomon, Alex Brown and Steve Busch. NPC Music Professor Julie Neish is directing the production.
Performances, produced through special arrangements with Music Theatre International, will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, and 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27.
In Leaving Iowa: The Comedy About Family Vacations, “audiences will recognize their parents, themselves or both in Clue and Manton’s characters,” wrote the Detroit Free Press in its review of the world premier performance in 2004. “This warmhearted comedy about family–the American family, to be precise–pulses with nostalgia, radiates soft charm and stays entertaining without running out of gas. Although it focuses on the classic summer road trip, where the kids whine nonstop in the backseat while Dad and Mom try to keep peace from the front, it’s really about the undertow influence dads wield over their sons,” added the Houston Press in a 2010 review.
Written by Chicago standup comedians Tim Clue and Spike Manton, Leaving Iowa takes its spark “from being the children of parents from the now dubbed ‘greatest generation.’ The story is a toast to their idealism and character, and a little roast of their undying dedication to the classic family road-trip. Leaving Iowa is a postcard to anyone who has ever found himself or herself driving alone on a road, revisiting fond memories of his or her youth,” noted Clue and Manton.
NPC Performing Arts Chair Dr. Michael Solomonson will be directing the 17-member cast, with assistance from Terri Otten as stage manager and Debra Fisher as production manager. The play is produced through special arrangements with Dramatic Publishing.
The Leaving Iowa cast includes Terry McConville as Dad; Kathleen Evans as Mom; Dustin Benavides as Cart Guy/Joe Hofingers/Park Ranger; Vera Bennett as Aunt Phyllis; Cassidy Cammarota as Shopping Lady/Jamie; Toryn Labrecque as Grandma; and Katie Nashio as Judy.
Also, Kyle Nowell as Fruit Guy/Amish Guy/Wayne; Ashley Nudson as Amish Gal; Michelle Pansulla as Jessie; Randy Rice as Uncle Phil/Jack Singer/Motel Clerk; Ariel Roes as Museum Assistant; Jasmine Romero as Drunken Lady; and Michael Shriver as Grandpa/Civil War Guy/Mechanic, and Madison St. Hilaire as Sis; Michael Staley as Don Browning; and Luke Walton as Bob.
Leaving Iowa performances will be at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20, Thursday, April 25, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 27.
Tickets for both productions are available through the Performing Arts Center Box Office at 1-800-266-7845, ext. 6250, or can be requested online at Advance tickets are $6. Admission on the day of performances is $8. Senior citizens (60 and older), and NPC students and staff qualify for a $1 discount on admission.