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Two New Leaders For Shawnee 2011

I've been in love with "The Fantasticks" ever since I played in it when I was just seventeen! artistic director-Brandon Bruce

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Photo: Shawnee Theatre

Faces of the new team at Shawnee: artistic director Brandon Bruce and producing director Kevin Guthridge.

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Shawnee Theatre 2011

Six plays in eight weeks


Shawnee Theatre

The Shawnee Theatre opens their six-play summer season in June with Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Musical Show, followed by Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Both those productions are directed by Eric and Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson; later in the summer, the Shawnee’s new producing director Kevin Guthridge and artistic director Brandon Bruce will take over, to alternate in directing the next four shows.

One Worked His Way Up…

Guthridge is an ISU graduate and a Shawnee veteran. He’s sung, played, acted, directed and even built sets. As producing director, he’s finding new challenges. “It’s really hard work, especially in the off-season.” says Guthridge. “I’m handling marketing, sponsorships, underwriting, contracts with supervisory staff and the working out of the schedule for six plays in eight weeks. So there are many things that I’ve never done before.”

We asked Guthridge about the two plays that he’s directing. “All My Sons, by Arthur Miller, is a tense, realistic drama about a family torn apart as it tries to hide the secret of the father’s selling faulty parts to the government during WWII. We’re putting it on right around the Fourth of July, and I think it will have real meaning for our audience. Over the past few years we’ve had good success with scary pieces like The Wolfman of Greene County and Dracula. So this year, we’re putting on a classic, Frankenstein, and hoping that our audience enjoys it as well.”

…One Answered An Ad

Brandon Bruce did theater work in college at the University of Iowa. He’s since been based in Chicago. While Kevin Guthridge has worked his way up through a variety of positions at Shawnee, Bruce explains that got his job in simpler way: “I answered an ad.” However, that was just the start. “There were interviews, resumes, and references.” Like the position of producing director, that of artistic director comes with a lengthy list of responsibilities. “I hire the directors. I hire the actors—and there are a lot of them. Kevin and I collaborate on hiring the designers and in collaboration—heavy collaboration—with Kevin, I select the season. Mostly it’s a matter of being in charge of the artistic programming and the creative direction of the theater.”

Bruce will direct that most durable of musicals, The Fantasticks, and The Thirty-Nine Steps, a wild homage to the Hitchcock movie. “I’ve wanted to direct The Fanstasticks ever since I played in it in high school. It’s near and dear to my heart. To me it’s a play about illusion, about magic—theatrical magic—the kind of magic that only theatre can offer, that you can get nowhere else. The Thirty-Nine Steps will be a real treat for Hitchcock fans. It’s very physical, very athletic, silly, and even clownish, but still an homage to Hitchcock.”

George Walker

After completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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