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“Into the Woods” will open 2017 McLeod Summer Playhouse season

Weekend Times   

    The McLeod Summer Playhouse has exciting news. “Into the Woods” will open the 2017 season. The company has just received the rights to present the first ever professional production of the show in Southern Illinois.
     The updated three-show subscription series now includes “Into the Woods,” June 16-18 and 23-25, “Sister Act,” July 7-9 and 14-16, sponsored by SIH Medical Group, and “Singin’ in the Rain,” July 27-30, co-presented by Carbondale Community Arts and MSP. These performances are in the McLeod Theater on the SIU campus.
     The season also includes a separately sold Theater for Young Audience production. This year, MSP is presenting “Pinkalicious the Musical,” based on the famous children’s book. The show is sponsored by Carolyn Wagner Snyder and performs on selected dates June 3-July 15 in the C.H. Moe Theater. For the performance schedule, please visit the playhouse website.
     Fairy tales collide in the musical, “Into the Woods,” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Lapine. Cinderella, Jack (with the beanstalk), the Baker and his wife, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, two princes and a put-upon witch become entwined in a brand new re-imagined production. The recent 2014 Disney movie version broke box office records and won an Academy Award for Meryl Streep as best actress in a supporting role.
     “Sister Act,” based on the movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater and book by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner with additional material by Douglas Carter Beane, tells the hilarious story of a third-rate lounge singer who hides out in a convent after witnessing a gangland killing. The rousing score raises its voice with disco, R&B, and Church hymn influences.
     “Singin’ in the Rain,” a stage adaptation of the great movie musical, is the story of a famous film star who falls in love with an unknown actress hired to dub his leading lady’s voice. With a book by Betty Comden and Adolf Green, it has great songs by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown including “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Good Mornin’” and, the tile song, “Singin’ in the Rain.”
     “Pinkalicious the Musical” is a “pink-a-tastic” story that follows the perilous predicament of a young girl who turns pink from eating too many of her favorite colored cupcakes. The musical has a script by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann (who also authored the children’s book). Music is by John Gregor with sharing credit for the lyrics with the authors.
     Subscription and individual tickets are now on sale.
     For performance schedule and ticket pricing, please go to the website.
    Tickets may be obtained at the McLeod Theater or Arena box office, by phone at 618-453-6000 during regular hours or online at playhouse.siu.edu.

SIU volleyball hires Kari Thompson as head coach

Chris Barron
Weekend Times

    Is new Saluki Volleyball coach Kari Thompson up to the task of coaching in the tough Missouri Valley Conference? That question will be answered in two or three years after she recruits a few classes.       
    She was 102-98 overall as head coach at North Dakota State University, and 40-20 in her first two seasons.  Her 2010 team had a robust RPI of 42 and her 2010 and 2011 teams participated in the NCAA Tournament.
    Her overall record in the Summit League was 66-38 — but 30 of those wins came in her first two years (‘10 and ‘11).
    Can she recruit well enough to keep things going for one of SIU’s premier women’s program? At least she won’t have much problems getting wins with the team former Saluki coach Doug Ingram left her at the Carbondale campus.
    SIU returns 11 letter winners (including seven seniors) from a SIU team that went 21-12 in 2017.
Thompson likes what she sees already.
    “I’ve had a chance to see SIU’s team personally while I was in Carbondale and on game film,” Thompson said. “From what I saw, we will give fans their money’s worth.”
    It appears Thompson will emphasize defense and playing hard.
    “We will have fast transitions to our hitters, intense, scrappy defense and have long rallies,” she said. 
    She already has the confidence of her boss, SIU AD Tommy Bell.        “Kari is seasoned, and experienced,” said Bell. “Her Midwest recruiting ties, and defensive-minded approach fits the MVC. We feel fortunate to attract a head coach of Kari’s caliber. She demonstrated in her interview a real passion for coaching.”
    For her part, Thompson was magnanimous in her statement about her former employers.
    “I am grateful to NDSU for the opportunity they gave me,” said Thompson. “(But I have) exciting new challenges at SIU.”
    The teams in the Missouri Valley typically have multiple bids to the NCAA tournament.  If Thompson can manage a veteran club in the right manner, they have a chance to fight for a bid next year.
    If the 2017 team succeeds, then Thompson will be able to go out and sell her new program to recruits for 2018 and beyond.

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