ASU Music Theatre and Opera announces 2021-22 performance season

ASU Music Theatre and Opera announces a 2021–22 season that includes works selected with a focus on providing equitable opportunities for all students.

“We created a self-nominated season selection committee of students, faculty and staff, and worked with the committees, our Student Leadership Team and multiple areas to identify a season that provides equitable opportunities for all students,” said Brian DeMaris, associate professor and artistic director for Music Theatre and Opera. “Offering over 100 named roles, we strived to create a season where any student could see themselves performing any number of roles.”

This year’s season provides for a safe return to in-person performances with live audiences, with some productions presented as a livestreamed performance.

The mainstage season — “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “We've Got Our Eye on You” and “Bright Star” — features all female writers and/or librettists, and ASU's first opera by a Black female composer.

“Spelling Bee” is a modern classic centered on a quirky group of mid-pubescent spellers competing for the championship title.

Based on the classic fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, “Hansel and Gretel” is the perfect introduction to opera for children (and adults) of all ages — a charming, touching and funny adaptation that is filled with some of the most beautiful and tuneful music ever written.

An opera double bill by Nkeiru Okoye includes “We’ve Got Our Eye on You” and “600 Square Feet.”  “We’ve Got Our Eye on You” is a chamber opera loosely based on an ancient Greek myth made famous in the “Stygian Witches” episode from the 1981 fantasy classic “Clash of the Titans.An operatic romantic comedy about trust, boundaries and real estate, “600 Square Feet” ponders the question: Can ex-lovers cohabitate in only 600 square feet without total honesty?

Broadway’s “Bright Star” is a tale of love and redemption set against the backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ’40s.

Visiting guest artists are equally as diverse and include Seth Tucker, UCAT artist and ASU alum, as director and choreographer of “Spelling Bee”; Michael Ching, conductor for “Hansel and Gretel”; and a residency with composer and librettist Okoye.

A new-work reading of “The Valley” by local writer Jamie Maletz is a contemporary dramatic comedy about redemption, taking action in the face of impossible odds and discovering what it means to find a new normal.

Student-led productions include the intimate musical “The Last Five Years” and the 1970s off-Broadway musical “Godspell,” both featuring nontraditional casting.

A new fully produced “Color Cabaret” led by BIPOC students and mentored by Nathan De’Shon Myers, assistant professor of voice, rounds out the upcoming season.

In addition, individual student performers will be featured in the ASU Class of 2022 Cabarets, the Opera Gala and the Musical Theatre Showcase.

“We continue to offer new work readings and student-led productions to give students opportunities to stretch their skills in a wide variety of areas,” DeMaris said. “We are excited to work with local artists Seth Tucker and Jamie Maletz, and welcome guest artists Nkeiru Okoye and Michael Ching. All bring years of experience in both musical theater and opera, and a wide variety of skills and experience to help all students grow.”

Tickets are available online three weeks in advance through the Herberger Institute Box Office. Ticket prices and venues vary. 

2021–22 season

"25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"
Music and lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin, conceived by Rebecca Feldman.
7:30 p.m. Sept. 30–Oct. 2
2 p.m. Oct. 3
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

"Healing Wars"
A music, dance and theater collaboration, by Liz Lerman.
7:30 p.m. Nov. 5, 6, 12 and 13
2 p.m. Nov. 7 and 14
Galvin Playhouse Theatre

"Hansel and Gretel"
Music by Engelbert Humperdinck, based on an original libretto by Adelheid Wette.
Sung in German with super-titles.
7:30 p.m. Nov. 18–20
2 p.m. Nov. 21
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

"The Last Five Years" (student production)
Written and composed by Jason Robert Brown.
7:30 p.m. Oct. 22 and 23
2 p.m. Oct. 23 and 24
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

"Godspell" (student production)
Conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak, music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz.
Originally produced on the New York Stage by Edgar Lansbury, Stewart Duncan and Joseph Beruh.
7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 and 22
2 p.m. Jan 22 and 23
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

The Color Cabaret (student production)
Directed by Jonice Bernard (‘22), music direction by Mario Yniguez (‘23).
Faculty mentor: Nathan De’Shon Myers.
7:30 p.m. Jan. 29
2 p.m. Jan. 30
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

Opera double bill:

"We’ve Got Our Eye on You"
A chamber opera. Music and story by Nkeiru Okoye, libretto by David Cote.
"600 Square Feet"
A micro-opera. Music by Nkeiru Okoye, libretto by David Cote.
7:30 p.m. Feb. 17–19
2 p.m. Feb. 20
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

"The Valley" (new-work reading)
Book and lyrics by Jamie Maletz, music by Eric Fegan.
7 p.m. Feb. 26
2 p.m. Feb. 27 
ASU Kerr Cultural Center

ASU Class of 2022 Cabarets
Feb. 28–March 4, times TBD
Location TBD

"Bright Star"
Music, book and story by Steve Martin; music, lyrics and story by Edie Brickell.
7:30 p.m. April 21–23
2 p.m. April 24
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

Musical Theatre Showcase
7:30 p.m. April 25
Location TBD

Opera Gala
7:30 p.m. April 29
Location TBD

Lynne MacDonald
lamacdon@asu.edu