Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
May 15, 1998

Alumni returning to perform in Our Town

by Anne Dolan

Theater alumni have rallied to their director's call for an encore. Frank Brandt, ISU professor emeritus who was in charge of the theater program from 1950 to 1967 and retired from ISU in 1981, is directing a special alumni performance of Thornton Wilder's Our Town. The performances are in conjunction with ISU Alumni Days, June 4-6.

Three performances are scheduled in Fisher Theater: at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 4, and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 5- 6. Tickets are $12 ($11 for seniors and $5 for students) and available through TicketMaster. The performances are open to the public.

Brandt is believed to have directed Our Town at least three times during his 35 years at Iowa State: 1966, 1954 and sometime in the late 1940s. Brandt, who now lives in Deming, N. M., will hold rehearsals in Ames for about 2 1/2 weeks prior to the performances.

Alumnus Frank Ferguson, who first played the role as a 17- year-old, will play the role of the stage manager. Other theater alumni Brandt invited back for the performance include Phyllis Summers, Pauline Williams, Michael Olsem, Gary Roberts, James Leverett, Marne (Wallace) Leverett, Keith Wirtz and Marge (Wauit) Junkhan. Another retired faculty member, Burton Drexler, also is in Our Town. ISU theater and St. Cecilia Elementary students will play the young roles.

"Frank (Brandt) feels a deep appreciation and love for this script and he was very, very interested in directing it one more time," said theater professor Jane Cox, who is assisting with the production. "When he inquired here, the theater faculty thought it was a great idea, and especially appropriate for Alumni Days."

Our Town, which won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, depicts life in a New Hampshire village at the turn of the century. It focuses on two families, the Gibbses and Webbs, who are neighbors.

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