Student-Run Theatre Company to Present Regional Premiere of 'Dani Girl'

Aug. 12, 2010
News Photo 4928Dani Girl cast (courtesy photo)

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Musical provides local audiences with 'extraordinary opportunity' to see show 'before the world knows about it'

Greyman Theatre Company, a new independent theatre company created and entirely run by Baylor University theatre students, will mark its first season with the regional premiere of "Dani Girl," a new and original musical with music by Michael Kooman and book and lyrics by Christopher Dimond.

"Dani Girl" tells the story of a young cancer patient and her passionate, sometimes funny, sometimes heart-breaking, but ultimately life- and love-affirming struggle with cancer. A precocious nine-year-old, Dani - together with her teddy bear, imaginary guardian angel and socially awkward hospital roommate - embarks on a magical quest to reclaim her health. As she traverses the realms of fantasy and reality, Dani discovers what it means to really live.

The show will premiere at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13, with additional performances at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15, in Theatre 11 at Baylor's Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center.

"Dani Girl" is recommended for audiences 12 and older. Tickets are $15 at the door or online at www.greymantheatreco.org. All Dani Girl box office proceeds will be donated to the Baylor Theatre Scholarship Fund. For more information, call (254) 710-1861.

While studying theatre at Baylor University, Greyman Artistic Producer Matt Tolbert, a senior performance studies major from Rowlett, and Managing Producer Joshua Gonzales, a junior theatre performance major from Huntsville, began exploring options to further their theatrical careers outside of the educational setting. Individually, both had spent previous summers gaining internship experience at professional theatres in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Texas. In December, they decided to found the Greyman Theatre Company, which is named after the ghost that makes his home at Baylor's theatrical venues.

"We wanted to create an opportunity for new work to be produced in Waco without the pressure to choose well-known classics," Tolbert said. "Waco audiences do not normally get a chance to see new works like this. This is an extraordinary opportunity for local audiences to see a show before the world knows about it."

Along with bringing a new work to Waco, "Dani Girl" presents an honorable challenge to the student cast and designers.

"With a new work, artists can create it as their own," Tolbert said. "This is such a blessing to us because it is usually established artists on Broadway that get to generate new characters and new art. We gladly accept the challenge of a show that doesn't have a past to tell us how to interpret and present it."

The writers also are honored to have Greyman producing "Dani Girl."

"We're thrilled that Greyman has decided to produce the piece," Kooman said. "This will be our Texas premiere, and we're eager to connect with the Waco audience and see how they respond to the piece."

"We believe that musical theatre has the potential to tell meaningful, human stories in an extraordinarily powerful way," Dimond said. "It is our hope that Dani Girl touches the audience in some way, that they feel something, think something or see the world in a slightly new way."

"Dani Girl" is directed by Kelsey Ervi, a 2007 Midway High School graduate and senior performance studies major at Baylor.

The cast features Rachel Brown (Baylor's "The Drowsy Chaperone"), Gonzales (Summer Stock Austin's "Sweeney Todd," Baylor's "The Drowsy Chaperone"), Tolbert (Baylor's "Fuddy Meers," "Iphigenia 2.0"), and Sarah Winter (Baylor's "The Dazzle," "Macbeth").

The production features music direction by Guilherme Almeida and John Elam, scenic design by Ervi, costume design by Toni Portacci and Price Christian, lighting design by Clay Van Winkle, and sound design by Danielle Stack (Baylor's "The Seagull," "The Drowsy Chaperone"), who is also production stage manager.

"Dani Girl" has been workshopped at the Kennedy Center's New Visions/New Voices Festival, American Conservatory Theatre, the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop, CAP-21, and was awarded the KC/ACTF Musical Theatre Award.

WHO'S WHO IN THE CAST:

Rachel Brown (Dani)
Joshua Gonzales (Marty)
Matt Tolbert (Raph/Cancer/God/Father)
Sarah Winter (Mother)

WHO'S WHO:

Michael Kooman (Music)
Christopher Dimond (Book and Lyrics)
Kelsey Ervi (Director/Scenic Designer)
Guilherme Almeida (Musical Director)
Toni Portacci (Costume Designer)
Clay Van Winkle (Lighting Designer)
Danielle Stack (Sound Designer/Production Stage Manager)
John Ruegsegger (Technical Director)
John Elam (Piano)
Stan Denman (Producing/Directing Mentor)
Price Christian (Assistant Costume Designer)

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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