After selling out all three nights of its February dramatic showcase “Death of a Salesman” at Hammond’s Towle Theatre, the IU Northwest performing-arts group Theatre Northwest will come back home to the university’s Savannah Auditorium for this month’s children’s theatre production of “The Velveteen Rabbit.”
As is customary, most performances of this year’s children’s show will be reserved for school groups. But Theatre Northwest will offer one public performance, on Sunday, April 19, at 2:30 p.m. Because of limited seating in Savannah Auditorium, anyone interested in seeing this lively stage interpretation of the beloved Margery Williams story is encouraged to make reservations as soon as possible by contacting the Theatre Northwest box office at (219) 980-6808. Tickets are $10.
“We had to limit (the number of public shows) this year because we’re in a different space,” explained IU Northwest Associate Professor of Performing Arts Jerry Taylor, Ph.D. “We usually do two weekend shows.”
“The Velveteen Rabbit” will be the second show Theatre Northwest has staged since losing its longtime venue in Tamarack Hall to flooding problems last September. Savannah Auditorium has just more than half the seating capacity of Tamarack, which was closed permanently due to extensive water damage. Despite the switch to a smaller stage, Taylor promised a fun and energetic show for this year’s children’s production, which is typically Theatre Northwest’s most popular event.
“This is always our biggest production. We go all out with the special effects, elaborate scenery and costumes, because it’s for the kids,” Taylor said. “That’s going to be a real challenge in that space. But I think we’re up to it. We’ve got some clever ideas. We’re going to bring in a few extra lighting instruments, and we’re going to do some things with fog effects, that kind of thing.
“In some ways, it’ll be more intimate,” he continued. “The space has a lower ceiling, and it’s smaller. And this one is very interactive. They come down to the kids and yell, ‘Find the rabbit, find the rabbit,’ and try to get them really involved with the show.”
Taylor said the capacity turnout for “Death of a Salesman” in February greatly uplifted the cast, crew and faculty after the heartbreak of losing their 50-year-old performance space in Tamarack. Working in an off-campus location posed its own set of challenges, he said, but the results were gratifying for all involved.
“I think it was one of our better shows in recent years,” Taylor said. “It was a good experience for the students, and I think they enjoyed it.”
Planning is still underway for Theatre Northwest’s summer production, but Taylor said it’s going to be a comedy, possibly featuring one-act pieces written by such luminaries as Woody Allen, David Mamet and Elaine May. More information on the summer production will be released as it becomes available.
The Savannah Auditorium is situated at the south end of the Savannah Center, which is located at the southeast corner of the main campus parking lot at 33rd Avenue and Broadway in Gary, Ind. There will be free parking for the event.