<cite>Anton in Show Business</cite> opening Oct. 6

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 27, 2004 – Virginia Tech School of the Arts and Department of Theatre Arts present Anton in Show Business by Jane Martin Oct. 6-17, 2004 in Squires Studio Theatre.

Directed by faculty member Susanna Rinehart, Anton in Show Business is a hilariously clever glimpse into the backstage world of contemporary theatre in which a glamorous Hollywood soap star, a Texas ingénue and a jaded New Yorker come together to stage a production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Winner of the 2001 American Theatre Critic’s Association’s Steinberg New Play Award, Anton in Show Business satirizes the sometimes absurd elements of theatre-making including funding crises, pretentious critics, eccentric directors and inept producers.

Theatre Arts majors Leah Finity, Amy Northup and Vanessa Ragland perform the roles of Lisabette, a third-grade teacher who recently made her acting comeback in a community theatre production; Holly, a TV star whose agent convinces her that a theatrical role will earn her respect; and Casey, an off-off Broadway veteran who has performed in 200 productions without ever getting paid. Multiple supporting roles performed by cast members Alana Cooper, Kate Raines, Anne Kelly and Sara Liles include a country music star, a flamboyant costume designer, a charismatic Polish director, and a hard-working stage manager.

The experiences of Martin’s three "sisters" are a comical parallel to the lives of the Anton Chekhov’s Prozorov sisters who long for a better life. Considered to be the greatest Russian playwright of modern times, Chekhov brilliantly recounts the tumultuous marriages and devastating affairs of these ordinary women who endure a dull existence outside Moscow.

In much the same way, Jane Martin explores the theatrical dreams and hopes of Lisabette, Holly and Casey. Both playwrights share an uncommon capacity for blending humor and compassion in their portraits of the ordinary lives of ordinary people.

Jane Martin has had more plays performed at the prestigious Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville than any other playwright. However, the identity of two-time Pulitzer Prize nominated Martin remains one of the biggest mysteries in American theatre today. The absence of a public appearance, biographic information or photos have led many to believe that the elusive playwright is Jon Jory, former producing director of Actor’s Theater of Louisville. Jory denies the claim.

The Department of Theatre Arts is inviting the public to attend open rehearsals of this production September 22 and 23 from 7-11 p.m. in Squires Studio Theatre, as a means of sharing the theatre-making process with its audiences. Immediately following the October 8 performance, director Susanna Rinehart will facilitate a talk back between audience members and the cast to gather impressions and answer questions.

Theatre Arts faculty members Randy Ward and Lisa Liebetrau have designed the set and costumes. MFA candidate Junko Yamada is the lighting designer, and Theatre Arts major Derek Knoderer is designing the sound.

Performances of Anton in Show Business will run in Squires Student Center’s Studio Theatre Oct. 6-9 and 12-16 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 9, 10 and 17 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the University Unions and Student Activities (UUSA) ticket office in the Squires Student Center at (540) 231-5615. Tickets may also be purchased online at http://www.tickets.vt.edu/. For more information, contact the Department of Theatre Arts at 231-5200.