Theatre MSU opens 50th season this week


When Theatre MSU draws the curtain on Thursday [Oct. 17] to begin its 50th season, the milestone will be especially meaningful to those who have invested blood, sweat and tears into hundreds of productions and helped grow a program that has impacted thousands of students.

The 50th season has much variety in store for faithful audiences, including:

--"Bloody Murder" by Ed Sala, Oct. 17-19 at 7:30 p.m. Jo Durst directs this award-winning murder mystery in which Agatha Christie meets Pirandello as characters rebel against their author.

--"Wiley and the Hairy Man" by Susan Zedler, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. Directed by Cody Stockstill, this production is appropriate for all ages and will be shown in the prior week to hundreds of grade school students. Incorporating rhythm and rhyme, "Wiley and the Hairy Man" is set within the mysterious Tombigbee Swamp and centers around a young fatherless boy, his conjure-woman mother, his faithful dog, and the Hairy Man who haunts Wiley's days and dreams.

--"...And the Rain Came to Mayfield" by Jason Milligan, Feb. 27-March 1 at 7:30 p.m. This drama takes place in the fall of 1962 in the fictional town of Mayfield, Mississippi. Directed by Donna Clevinger, the production finds two young men of different backgrounds discovering they have similar dreams of independence despite their individual and societal struggles.

--"The Pirates of Penzance" by Gilbert and Sullivan, April 24-26 at 7:30 p.m. Durst will direct this comic opera, and Theatre MSU will once again join forces with MSU's music department for this wacky, irreverent musical farce.

Theatre MSU patrons may order season tickets or individual performance tickets online through the department's website at

In addition to the production entity known as Theatre MSU, the communication department's theatre emphasis has grown from humble beginnings in 1963 to enroll more than 30 students majoring in communication with an emphasis in theatre and many more who participate in theatre as an extracurricular activity.

"We have a high quality program, and students are able to get really involved," said John Forde, head of the communication department.

Forde said the program had been nurtured over its 50 years by the late Dominic Cunetto, founding director, who took responsibility for the program in 1963 and retired in 1991, and previous department heads, like the late Sam Dudley, who was head of communication when the theatre program was established. Others, like Wayne and Jo Durst, have fostered growth and trained generations of theatre students--both the "vocation" and the "avocation" students. Wayne Durst retired as coordinator of the theatre program this year after a 35-year tenure in the department.

"The process of creating theatre is so rewarding. You get to work with a bunch of people who all want the same thing," Durst said.

To commemorate the 50th season, MSU Libraries is digitizing Theatre MSU memorabilia, including archived play programs and other promotional materials and photographs. The collection will be available online at

A history of the program also is chronicled on the Theatre MSU's Facebook page.

For more information, contact Melanie Harris at or call 662-325-3320.

Allison Matthews | Public Affairs

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