Web Exclusives:Features
a PAW web exclusive column

August 5, 2001:
PU Summer Stock: Something's up over at Murray-Dodge
Princeton Summer Theatre is alive and well
By Regina Tan '00

Princeton Orange Key tour guides joke that the university's motto, 'Dei Sub Numine Viget' really means that 'God went to Princeton.' In the Murray-Dodge theater this summer, it appears that Jesus went to Princeton as well.

Mid July, when the Princeton Summer Theatre was staging the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," several Biblical characters were seen darting about near Murray-Dodge. Actually, Jesus wasn't one of them, it just looked like him.

During the summer, it seems that the campus experiences a dry spell in student activity. The Princeton Summer Theater revives some of this theatrical spirit in its summer repertory.

In August, the ensemble is presenting "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds," Paul Zindel's 1971 Pulitzer Prize winning play.

The Princeton Summer Theatre actors are recruited from area schools, including Princeton, Rutgers, and Westminster Choir College. The group also runs an internship program for high school students.

The planning for PST's summer repertory began last February, when Amanda Brandes '02, PST's managing director, drew together the plans for PST with a group of fellow theater students.

"Noemi Millman '02, Allie Tepper '01, Sarah Rodriguez '03, Robin Giese '02, and I formed a committee to submit a proposal to Princeton Summer Theater, Inc., a trustee group that determines who will administer PST each summer," Brandes said.

"As a part of our proposal we had to include a season - shows, with directors attached. For us it was easiest to find out directors first, and Erin Gilley '02 and Clifford Sofield '02 were both interested, so the seven of us sat down and talked about what shows we liked, what would sell, what types of shows we wanted in our season, etc. In the end we went for variety. Our season is structured to open with a comedy ("Barefoot in the Park"), include a musical ("Joseph"), something Shakespearean ("Much Ado"), and close with a more serious, 'artsy' drama ("The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-on-the-Moon Marigolds"). Once we decided on these shows, we submitted our decision to the trustees for their approval."

Usually it takes about four to five weeks to take the show from script to stage. Since the Princeton Summer Theater's season is very short - a little less than two months - cast and crew work overtime to pull the performances together.

Finding housing and stipend funds for the cast and interns has not been easy either. Without the support of English professor Thomas Roche and Princeton resident Nancy Beer - who rented their houses to Princeton Summer Theater - some cast members would not have been able to stay during the summer. Additional funding from the university president's discretionary fund helped cover the costs of housing and financing cast, crew, and intern stipends.

For more information about the Princeton Summer Theater, visit www.princetonsummertheater.org or call 609-258-7062.

Regina Tan '00 is a reporter/freelance writer living in Princeton.