A new Quad Cities-based theatre company will make its debut this summer, with Augustana College’s Brunner Theatre Center the site for three summer-stock presentations by the recently formed Mississippi Bend Players.
Originating in conjunction with last fall’s opening of Augustana’s multi-million-dollar Brunner Theatre Center, the Mississippi Bend Players will give both students and community members the opportunity to work together on professional stage productions.
The Mississippi Bend Players’ mission is to provide excellence in Quad-Cities theatre by producing both commercially proven works and original musical and dramatic material. The company is spearheaded by Broadway veteran and Augustana alumnus Philip Wm. McKinley ’73, whose credits include theatrical productions ranging from the Tony Award-winning Hugh Jackman musical “The Boy from Oz” to Augustana’s staging of the locally written drama “A Green River.”
“We’re excited to work with the Mississippi Bend Players to bring such a unique theatre offering to the Quad Cities,” said Sam Schlouch, Augustana’s senior communication director. “This year, we truly will be bringing Broadway to the Quad Cities.”
McKinley himself will direct the summer-stock season’s debut production “Zombie Prom,” running July 7 through 16. A 1950s horror comic book brought to life as a musical comedy, “Zombie Prom” finds composer/lyricists Dana P. Rowe and John Dempsey delivering a campy, rollicking romp through America’s “Atomic Age” and the golden age of the comic book in this hysterical, tune-filled delight.
Jeffrey L. Coussens, professor of theatre arts at Augustana, directs the Mississippi Bend Players’ second summer offering: Frederick Knott’s classic thriller “Wait Until Dark,” running July 21 through 30. As blind Greenwich Village housewife Susy Hendrix becomes the target of three vicious thieves, this masterfully constructed Broadway smash moves from one suspenseful moment to the next, building toward an electrifying, breath-stopping climax.
Dr. Corinne Johnson, theatre professor at St. Ambrose University, will direct the third and final production of the Mississippi Bend Players’ inaugural season: Neil Simon’s Tony-winning comedy “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” running August 4 through 13. Set in 1940s Brooklyn, this hilarious and touching portrait celebrates the American family through the eyes of 15-year-old Eugene Jerome in a play filled with wit, warmth and Simon’s signature laughs.
“The artistic staff of Philip Wm. McKinley, Jeff Coussens and Cory Johnson are well respected across the country and right here in our community,” said Schlouch of the Mississippi Bend Players' creative team. “Their expertise – paired with the talent they can draw – will bring a new experience for Quad-Cities audiences.”
Tickets are available through the Augustana Ticket Office.
Sam Schlouch, senior communication director, 309-794-7833