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June 2008

Release Date: June 12, 2008

ASU Comedy Offers Insight into the Mentally Challenged

The Arts at ASU will present a touching comedy, “The Boys Next Door,” for its first Summer Dinner Theater, beginning June 26 in the Carr Education-Fine Arts Building’s Modular Theatre, 2602 Dena Drive.

The play, written by Tom Griffin and directed by Dr. Bill Doll, runs June 26-29 and July 3-5. Tickets are $12.50 for ASU students and activity card holders; $15 for non-ASU students and subscribers; and $20 for the general public. Subscribers wishing to forgo the meal may acquire tickets at no cost.

Doors open at 6:45 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7 p.m. A matinee performance will be June 29 at 2 p.m. with doors opening at 12:45 p.m. with dinner served at 1 p.m.

Griffin’s successful Off-Broadway play focuses on the lives of four mentally challenged men and the situations they encounter in their daily lives. They live in a communal residence and are watched over by a sincere, but increasingly despairing social worker.

The play follows the men’s daily routines and the sometimes momentous and funny impact the “little things” of life have on them. Poignant moments remind the audience that these protagonists want to love and laugh while searching for meaningful things and their purposes in life.

“You have these human beings who have the same needs and desires as everyone else,” Doll said. “Their logic just isn’t synced up the same as everyone else’s.”

“We’re all alike,” he said. “That’s what I want to emphasize. The respect we all need is the same for everybody.”

Doll said the play illustrates how the men approach life through concepts like agrotherapy, where one of the characters plants tomatoes but doesn’t understand how they differ from other plants. Another character treasures his collection of keys, but doesn’t understand how they work.

The cast includes Caleb Stahl, a San Angelo Central High School graduate, as Arnold Wiggins; senior drama major Arturo Garcia as Lucien P. Smith; Casey Baccus as Norman Bulansky; senior German major David Pedersen as Barry Klemper; and Mason Cargile as Jack.

Senior Chrysti Frier, from Boerne, plays Sheila; sophomore Scott Meyer, from New Braunfels, plays Mr. Klemper; Amanda Rickman, who has stage and costume manager duties at ASU to her credit along with acting, plays Mrs. Fremus, Mrs. Warren and Clara; and junior Daniel Garrison plays Mr. Hedges, Mr. Corbin and Senator Clark.

The play’s author is a native of Providence, R.I., and has produced numerous works including “Will the Gentlemen in Cabin Six Please Rise to the Occasion,” “Workers,” “The Taking Away of Little Willie,” “Einstein and the Polar Bear,” “Pasta” and “Amateurs.” Griffin’s most famous production is “The Boys Next Door.”

Doll is director of ASU’s University Theatre and is a professor of drama. He has directed more than 80 plays at the collegiate level. Before coming to ASU in 1999, Doll was a professor at Rose State College in Midwest City, Okla., for five years and served as the chair of fine arts at Howard College.

He has a Ph.D. in Fine Arts/Theatre from Texas Tech University and has served on several Texas Educational Theatre Association committees including the College/University Curriculum Committee, UIL One-Act Play Advisory Committee, Texas Theatre Department Heads Organization and College/University Section Board member-at-large and secretary. He was named the 2007 Texas Educational Theatre Association University Educator of the Year.

Eldra Sanford is the University Theatre costumer; Matt Smith, a 2004 ASU graduate, is the University Theatre technical director; David Keeton is the stage manager; drama major Samantha Sandifer is the wardrobe manager; and music major Laurie Proveaux is the properties manager.

Reservations for “The Boys Next Door” may be made by calling 942-2000 from 2-6 p.m. weekdays beginning Thursday, June 12 for Arts at ASU subscribers. The general public may begin making reservations on Monday, June 16. All tickets must be sold in advance. For more information on the production and the cast, call 942-2146, ext. 246.