News & Events




Press Release



July 27, 2015


Theatre gears up with new season, new staff, and new students


After a busy summer of preparations, the theatre program at Cowley College has announced the shows that will make up its 2015-16 season: You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, the Diary of Anne Frank, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, along with Cowley Cabaret: an evening of song & student directed one acts, as well as a 24-Hour Theatre Festival co-produced with Southwestern College in Winfield. All productions will be held at the Brown Center at Cowley College, except for the 24-Hour Festival, which will be staged at Southwestern.


“I’ve always found a basic theme or question to be very important when planning a season,” Cowley Theatre Director John Sefel said. “When I came to Cowley last year, the college had just lost Scott (former Theatre Director Scott McLaughlin). After listening to what students, staff, and community members were thinking about, we chose a theme which examined characters that, having lost their parents, were now lost themselves. Having lost both of my own parents, I know how it can be difficult to re-define how you think of yourself once they’re gone. I felt like that was the struggle the program and the college was facing—a sense of ‘now what?’ Every show last season tackled this question in some way, from Seymour’s embracement of the wrong path in Little Shop (of Horrors) to the son in Leaving Iowa literally becoming lost while struggling with the memories of his father, before eventually finding peace.”


This year, says Sefel, has a much brighter theme.


“I think, after we deal with the bad, we need to start focusing on the potential for good,” Sefel said. “Right now, every time I look at the news it seems it’s filled with people yelling about how much they disagree with each other. This season tries to shift the focus to the hope and beauty in the world, and to cherish overcoming our struggles.”


Each of the season’s main stage shows, Sefel says, relies heavily on hope, and the idea that happiness is worth the struggle.


“We love Charlie Brown because—despite the fact that Lucy will always pull that football away—Charlie Brown keeps trying, and that hope brings him happiness,” Sefel said. “Midsummer sums it up in one of its most famous lines, ‘The course of true love never did run smooth.’ Even Diary of Anne Frank, while dealing with tragic events, is focused on the irrepressible hopes, dreams, and happiness of a young girl who refuses to let herself become bitter or defeatist. I think this basic message—that hope leads to happiness—is one we can all use right now.”

This message will be brought by a group that will have a lot to prove.


“Cowley Theatre is an entirely new team,” Sefel said.


In addition to Sefel’s appointment last year and the return of last year’s new hire of choreographer Cara Kem, this year’s musical will be the area’s introduction to the college’s new Vocal Director Marcia Wieland, new Technical Director Milan Anich, and new student costume shop manager Mary Prochaska.


“Not to mention,” adds Sefel, “a huge group of extremely talented freshmen who can’t wait for their first shot on the Brown Center stage!”

According to Sefel, theatre recruitment is back up to its historic strength, and he is impressed with the caliber of incoming new students. When asked what it’s like to helm a program with so many new faces when comparisons to the past are inevitable, Sefel says “Look, nothing will ever replace Cowley’s rightfully beloved former dream team. They were magic, and deserve to be honored as such. Still, we’re ready,” he adds, “to start forging a magical legacy of our own.”


As for what local audiences should expect for the year, “we plan to come out swinging,” Sefel laughed.


The main stage season will begin with You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown the week after Arkalalah, November 5-7.


“We’re planning a large Cowley Kids Day Matinee for the show, and will be looking for local organizations that want to get involved,” Sefel said, “as well as having daytime performances for local school field trips and, of course, our traditional performances at night.”


Tickets for You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown will go on sale the second week of October, and will feature an optional dinner package. The 24-Hour Festival will be held on August 29th at Southwestern College. The spring semester will be exceptionally busy, with Cowley Cabaret on Feb 19-20, the Diary of Anne Frank on March 3-5, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream on April 21-23. Tickets to spring shows will go on sale approximately one month before opening night. For more information, contact the Brown Center Box Office at 620-441-5570, or Theatre Director John Sefel at 620-441-5318.