The UW–Platteville Heartland Festival returns for its 15th year this week, under the leadership of Dr. Ann Dillon Farrelly, artistic director and associate professor of theatre at UW–Platteville, and Michael Breitner, managing director and director of arts facilities and series at UW–Platteville.
The Heartland Festival has been a part of UW–Platteville’s tradition of providing arts and cultural activities and events to Platteville and the Tri-State area. Since its inception, thousands of people have attended Heartland Festival productions. More than 3,900 tickets were sold for the 2014 Heartland Festival productions.
“While the Heartland Festival has been a Platteville staple for the last 15 years, recent events have left the future of this beloved festival uncertain,” said Farrelly. “It is very possible that this summer may be the festival’s last.”
Breitner and Farrelly said that audience members of all ages will love the 2015 Heartland Festival’s engaging, enlightening and entertaining performances.
The festival will be eight weeks long, as it was last season, with two musicals running consecutively. Instead of a cabaret show, there will be a Cabaret Night on July 24. Missoula Children’s Theatre will return.
The first show of the 2015 season, Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last Five Years,” will run June 12–28. Directed by Farrelly, the show is a two-person musical exploring a failed relationship in an unconventional way. One character’s timeline is told in chronological order and the other character’s is told in reverse.
“For Cathy, the beginning of the musical marks the end of the relationship,” said Farrelly. “For Jamie, it is the beginning of their love story. Watching Cathy go from despair to hope and Jamie from hope to despair creates an interesting and unusual experience for the audience.”
Dairy Queen in Platteville will provide ice cream cakes for the opening night.
The second show of the season, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s “Mary Poppins,” will run July 10–26. The show is also directed by Farrelly and choreographed by Connie SaLoutos Furlan, who teaches public speaking and theatre courses at UW–Platteville.
“It is an uplifting story about a beloved character, and the Heartland team is looking forward to bringing it to life,” said Farrelly.
Missoula Children’s Theatre will perform “Rapunzel” July 17–18. Children participating in the show auditioned for a part and were cast in a role. They will rehearse for one week and then perform in the show.
“Parents and grandparents alike enjoy watching their students perform on the big stage,” said Breitner. “It’s great fun for all involved.”
Lizzie Hansen will return as musical director, Jeffrey Strange as the scenic designer and Sarah Strange as the costume designer.
“I think that audiences will enjoy both of the shows,” said Breitner. “We’re pulling out the stops for this Heartland Festival.”
For more information, contact the University Box Office, 342-1298, tickets.uwplatt.edu.
New actors part of 2015 shows
Theatergoers will see both familiar faces and new actors at this year’s UW–Platteville Heartland Festival.
Now in its 15th year, the festival once again brings together professional and community actors for its summer season.
The professional actors, who make up Heartland’s core acting company, will perform in both Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last Five Years” and “Mary Poppins.”
Paige Hauer, who will play Cathy in “The Last Five Years” and Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins,” is making her return to the Heartland stage. Last seen in the 2011 Heartland Festival as Marian Paroo in “The Music Man”, Marty in “Grease” and Miss Liddy in “Murder Rides Again,” Hauer is a working actor in Chicago. She just completed a run of a new musical called “Sounds So Sweet” with the prestigious Black Ensemble Theatre. Other professional credits include Rose in “Dogfight,” Eve in “Children of Eden” and Janet Van De Graaf in “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
Joining Heartland for the first time is Austin Rea, who will be taking on the roles of Jamie in “The Last Five Years” and Bert in “Mary Poppins.” Rea is a graduate of Clarke University in Dubuque, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in theatre. He has performed in many shows at The Grand Opera House in Dubuque. Some of his more recent roles there include Thenardier in “Les Miserables,” Fagin in “Oliver,” and Max Bialystock in “The Producers.”
Rea’s most recent endeavor took him all over the country traveling with The National Theatre for Children, performing educational theatre for thousands of children.
“Paige and Austin are a perfect fit for all four roles, and they are both very impressive performers,” said Dr. Ann Dillon Farrelly, artistic director of the festival and director of both shows.
Joining Hauer and Rea as Jane and Michael Banks are Heartland Festival veteran youth ensemble performers Lizzy Haag and Kale Johnson.
UW–Platteville alumni, faculty, staff and students involved in “Mary Poppins” include Brent Schwert as George Banks, Hilary Baker as Winifred Banks, Susan Savage Day as Miss Andrew and Bird Woman, Lizzie Hansen as Mrs. Corry, Deb Meyer as Mrs. Brill and in the ensemble, Tyler Tollefson as Robertson Aye and in the ensemble, Bill Haskins as Admiral Boom and the policeman, Savion Kirk Neleus and in the ensemble, Michael Black as the Bank Chairman and in the ensemble, Daniel Hemming as Von Hussler and in the ensemble, Andrew Jonas as Northbrook and in the ensemble, and Lyrica Daentl in the ensemble.
Other community members involved in this year’s production of “Mary Poppins” include Lydia Sigwarth as Katie Nanna, Isabelle Sander as Annie and in the ensemble, Elizabeth Romaine as Fannie and in the ensemble, and Elizabeth Biddick and Leann Rewey in the ensemble. This year’s youth ensemble includes Eliana Davis, Geoffrey Erickson, Ellie Hemming, Gwen Johnson, Rachel Romaine, Miranda Sexton, Kaelyn Weigel and Kenadee Weigel.
“We have a tremendously talented group of performers this year,” said Farrelly. “The Platteville community is filled with talent, and we are always so happy to showcase it every year.”