Theatre and Dance

WIU Theatre and Dance 2023-2024 Theatre Season:



By Tim Clue & Spike Manton

Directed by Adam Lewis

September 29 & 30 at 7:30pm

Simpkins Theatre

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About the play: The spark behind LEAVING IOWA comes from being children of parents from the now dubbed "greatest generation." The story is a toast to their idealism and character and a little roast of their undying dedication to the classic family road trip. More specifically, it is the story of Don Browning, a middle-aged writer, who returns home and decides to finally take his father's ashes to his childhood home, as requested. But when Don discovers Grandma's house is now a grocery store, he begins traveling across Iowa searching for a proper resting place for his father. This father-and-son road trip shifts smoothly from the present to Don's memories of the annual, torturous vacations of his childhood. Don's existential journey leads him to reconcile his past and present at the center of the United States.



By Arlene Hutton

Directed by Lisa Wipperling

October 4 – 7 at 7:30pm & October 8 at 2:00pm

Horrabin Theatre

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About the play: May and Raleigh meet in 1940 on an eastbound train that carries the bodies of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nathanael West. Unable to enlist because of a medical condition, he wants to be a writer; she wants to be a missionary and they discover they are from neighboring towns in Kentucky. In this boy-meets-girl romance, nominated for Best Play 2000 by the New York Drama League, two young people navigate through the tough times of a country at war discovering what they have to give up to get what they really want.



Music by Tom Kitt

Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey

Directed by Carolyn Blackinton

Musical Direction by Matt Bean

Choreography by Donald Laney

October 13 & 14 at 7:30pm and October 15 at 2:00pm

Simpkins Theatre

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About the play: NEXT TO NORMAL is the story of Diana Goodman and her family. Traumatized by the death of her infant son from an undiagnosed intestinal obstruction, Diana has lived with bipolar depressive disorder and delusional episodes for the past seventeen years. The illness has affected everyone in her life, and has nearly torn her family apart on several occasions. NEXT TO NORMAL is an emotional powerhouse musical that addresses such issues as grieving a loss, ethics in modern psychiatry, and suburban life.

next to


By Barbara Hammond

Directed by DC Wright & Hadley Kamminga-Peck

October 25 - 28 at 7:30pm & October 29 at 2:00pm

Hainline Theatre

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About the play: In February 2012, five young women walked into the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow to protest the illegal presidential election in Russia. The young activists, who called themselves Pussy Riot, offered up a 48-second punk prayer, shouting, “Virgin Mary, chase Putin away!” before being dragged out of the church by security. After uploading a video of the performance onto YouTube, the women of Pussy Riot were arrested as enemies of church and state. But when Western media reclaimed the story, Pussy Riot’s protest became the greatest piece of performance art in Russian history. This is their story.

We Are

1968 - A Devised Dance Experience

Directed by Donald Laney & Kristin Kavanagh

November 9 – 11 at 7:30pm & November 12 at 2:00pm

Hainline Theatre

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About the performance: 1968 - The year that shattered America. Using the popular music of the year, this devised dance production will retell the story of 1968.


BFA Showcase

Directed by Lysa Fox, Donald Laney & Sharon Nott

December 1 & 2 at 7:30pm

Simpkins Theatre

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About the play: Join the BFA Musical Theatre class of 2023 -2024 as they highlight their training from over the past four years.

BFA 23

Underground Cabaret

Directed by Lisa Wipperling

February 2 & 3 at 7:30pm

Simpkins Theatre

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About the show: The performance will feature musical theatre/theatre majors from the University. The Underground Cabaret is a performance to honor the career of Professor Emeritus Maughan McMurdie. As a former operatic baritone and bass, McMurdie taught at Western Illinois and performed throughout the region from 1969 until his retirement in 1992. Maughan passed away in 2007.



By Lindsay Joelle

Directed by Tamera Izlar

February 16 & 17 at 7:30pm

Simpkins Theatre

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About the play: Danny’s a white, blue-collar, New York City sanitation worker. Marlowe’s the Black, ivy-educated newbie who just joined his route. Thrown together in the cab of a nineteen-ton garbage truck, they spend their first shifts sparring, one-upping each other, and practicing the secret art of mongo: hunting for discarded treasure. But as their lives become increasingly intertwined, these two essential workers from different worlds discover there’s more that binds them than picking up the trash.



Music, Book & Lyrics by Jacob Richmond & Brooke Maxwell

Directed by Lysa Fox

Musical Direction by Nick Miguel

Choreography by Kristin Kavanagh

February 28 – March 2 at 7:30pm & March 3 at 2:00pm

Horrabin Theatre

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About the play: In this hilarious and outlandish story, the lives of six teenagers from a Canadian chamber choir are cut short in a freak accident aboard a roller coaster. When they awake in limbo, a mechanical fortune teller invites each to tell a story to win a prize like no other — the chance to return to life. This popular musical is a funny, moving look at what makes a life well-lived!

ride the cyclone


Book by Carlo Gozzi

Directed by DC Wright and Hadley Kamminga-Peck

April 3 – 6 at 7:30pm & April 7 at 2:00pm

Hainline Theatre

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About the play: Deramo, kind but simple-hearted king of Serendippe, wishes to marry. There is a problem: how to find out which of the contenders for his love is genuine and which is simply eyeing the royal throne. The wizard Durandarte gives the king a figure of a clown who laughs if someone utters an untruth. The clown appears similar to the favorite of the king, the crafty and mean first minister Tartaglia, who for a long time and unrequitedly was in love with Angela, the daughter of the second minister, Pantalone, a timid bureaucrat. But Angela loves Deramo, though she will not be his bride, considering marriage unnecessary and humiliating. Tartaglia hatches intrigues and in every possible way interferes with his daughter Clarice marrying young, handsome chamberlain Leandra, Angela's brother, expecting to give the hand of his daughter to the king. Despite all the tricks of the first minister, the king, by the audacity and sharpness of Angela, manages to discern her true love for him, falls in love with her and declares her his wife. Tartaglia is, however, unrelenting: while hunting, he learns from a friend the spell of Durandarte and swaps bodies with him. Deramo becomes a stag, then an old man, in his quest to return to his love Angela.

the kin stag

Dance Escape

Directed by Donald Laney & Kristin Kavanagh

April 18 – 20 at 7:30pm & April 21 at 2:00pm

Hainline Theatre

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About the performance: Western Illinois University's annual Spring Dance Concert will offer an evening of dance, choreographed by students and instructors in University Dance Company (UDC). Each performance will incorporate a variety of dance styles, including modern/contemporary, jazz, Afro-modern, and ballet.

Dance Escape


(Bring Your Own Play)

Directed by Adam Lewis & Friends

April 26 & 27 at 7:30pm

Simpkins Theatre

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About the play: New Plays, written by students, designed by students, performed by students, for students! Enjoy an evening of completely student-created new works.

For more information about the season or Theatre & Dance check out our website:

For Tickets call the Hainline Box Office: 309.298.2900 or email or purchase online Get Tickets

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