UMKC Theatre Season Opens with Theresa Rebeck’s O Beautiful


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KANSAS CITY, MO (September 28, 2016) – UMKC Theatre kicks off its 2016-2017 season with the explosive satirical play, O Beautiful by Theresa Rebeck. Co-directed by Stephanie Roberts and Theodore Swetz, O Beautiful will preview October 14, 15, 17, 18, open October 19, and run selected dates through October 23 at the Spencer Theatre, James C. Olson Performing Arts Center, on the UMKC campus.

O Beautiful is a fiercely funny and disturbingly shocking story which explores the lives of high school students, teachers, and their families as they cope in a world of real personal problems and extreme ideologies. Jesus, Joan of Arc, and Benjamin Franklin, among others, show up to weigh in and mix it up. As topical as tonight’s newscast, O Beautiful lands the complex realities of our culture squarely on the stage in an electrifying blend of ancient characters, founding fathers and your neighborhood high school.

 Co-director Stephanie Roberts stated, “This is the perfect play to do RIGHT NOW. We find ourselves in a time of chaos—in our nation, our communities and, so often, in the lives of our youth. From Facebook, to talk radio, to the presidential elections, we are inundated with vitriolic language reflecting our polarities. This play, to me, is why we do theatre. We have the privilege, through our art, of revealing some difficult truths about our society. Theresa Rebeck crafts these truths in a way that we can see and reflect upon them: with humor, beauty and empathy.”

 Cast and Artistic Team

The principals in O Beautiful are Amy Billroth-MacLurg (Alice Fletcher), Charlie Spillers (Jesus), Duncan McIntyre (Lennie Ryan), Megan Sells (Linda Ryan), and Jay Love (Ty Janaleris).

 Stephanie Roberts

Stephanie Roberts (Associate Professor of Physical Theatre) teaches Group Practice, Commedia dell’Arte, Clown, Mask, and Epic Storytelling for the M.F.A. Professional Actor Training Program. She has toured nationally and abroad with companies such as Annex, Tears of Joy, Living Voices, and Seattle Mime Theatre. She has also taught and directed devised work for the Seattle Repertory Theatre as well as Cornish College of the Arts. Ensemble-generated works include Slammed! Eat This! and The Epic Project (UMKC Theatre), The Best Story Never Told (Dell’Arte International and CalArts), Tallahassee (KC Fringe Festival) and Boom! An International Lost and Found Family Marching Band (national tour). Professor Roberts was the 2010 recipient of the Charlotte Street Foundation Generative Performing Artist Award as well as an Inspiration Award from ArtsKC with which she developed her one-woman play, The Mask of the Broken Heart. Her choreography appeared in the world-premiere of Dead on Her Feet at The North Wall in Oxford and The Arcola Theatre in London. Recent acting credits include Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, and Mrs. Gibbs in David Cromer’s Our Town (Kansas City Repertory Theatre). She holds a B.F.A. in Acting from Cornish and an M.F.A. in Ensemble Based Physical Theatre from Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre. For more information, visit her website here Stephanie Roberts.  

 Theodore Swetz

(The Patricia McIlrath Endowed Professor – Head of Acting, UMKC) Beginning his career with the NY Shakespeare Festival, at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park and Lincoln Center. He later went on to be an original member of the Tony Nominated, American Players Theatre, Spring Green, WI. (a classical repertory company) where he acted, taught, directed and served as associate artistic director.  As a principal actor Ted has appeared in numerous regional theaters across the country. In Kansas City directing credits include – Tribes, Mr. Burns, Mojo, Sideman, Rabbit Hole (Unicorn Theatre), The Comedy of Errors (KC Rep), Ferdinand the Bull (The Coterie) Tally’s Folly, Inspecting Carol (KCAT), Ah Wilderness, Othello, Love’s Labour’s Lost, As You Like It, (Riverside Shakespeare) and The Learned Ladies, The Liar, King Stag, The Comedy of Assess, Twelfth Night, Killer Joe, Tartuffe and Room Service (UMKC Theatre). As an actor Ted has work as a principal actor throughout the country. KC audiences have recently seen him as the as Tiger in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Unicorn) and Friar Lawrence inRomeo & Juliet (KC Rep). He received his training from legendary teachers Stella Adler, Morris Carnovsky and Phoebe Brand, all original members of the historic Group Theater. Next projects – directing The Way of the World for UMKC Theatre, and acting at the Unicorn in I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard.

 Pre and Post Show Panel Discussions

There will be a series of pre- and post-performance panel discussions with local and student organizations. For more information contact Sadie DeSantis

 Ticket Information

Season tickets are available for all five productions for $73. Single ticket adult prices are $20 for any performance.  All UMKC faculty and staff tickets are $13 and UMKC student tickets are $10 for any performance (limit one per ID). Senior (60+) ticket prices are $15. For tickets, call the Central Ticket Office at (816) 235-6222 or purchase online  here.

 Monday nights are traditionally “dark” as that is the actors’ day off.  However, UMKC Theatre will again provide an Industry Night for each production so that theatre professionals and others will have one opportunity to see UMKC Theatre performances on a Monday. Admission to all Monday night shows is only $12 per person and, good news, is open to the general public.


Free event parking for Olson Performing Arts Center is on level 5 of the Cherry Street parking structure. Park near the Northeast Tower and use the skywalk to the theatres. The Olson Performing Arts Center is at 4949 Cherry Street on the UMKC campus.



Oct. 14

7:30 pm


Oct. 15

7:30 pm


Industry Night

Oct. 17

7:30 pm


Oct. 18

7:30 pm



Oct. 19

7:30 pm


Oct. 20

7:30 pm


Oct. 21

7:30 pm


Oct. 22

7:30 pm



Oct. 23

2:00 pmO Beautiful

Spencer Theatre, Olson PAC

October 14-October 23, 2016

UMKC Theatre has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top graduate theatre training programs in the country. Graduates from UMKC Theatre are invited to the most prestigious New York and Los Angeles professional reviews and auditions to exhibit their work and secure positions with national and international performing companies.  We build bridges. We assist the creative student in making the journey to becoming a creative professional. The practice of the department is to vigorously educate students in the many arts, crafts and traditions of theatre, and provide a basis for future careers in the creative industries. Our program offers intensive hands-on experience while at the same time fostering analytical and contextual skills. The practical experience of theatremaking occurs not only within the performing venues of UMKC, but also in professional theatres in Kansas City. Theatre is a passion. We seek it, we train for it and we embody it. UMKC Theatre is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) and the University/Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA).

 The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students.  UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences, and urban engagement. UMKC has been designated as Missouri’s Campus for the Arts. More information is available online at  the UMKC Theatre website.  

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