School of Theatre and Dance Announces 2019-2020 Season

Designed to coincide with the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of May 4, Kent State University's School of Theatre and Dance will present a compelling and profound season of plays, musicals, and choreography rooted in the themes of politics, protest, power, peace, and the paths we take as we navigate a tumultuous world. 

The season opens with Charise Castro Smith's "The Hunchback of Seville," running Oct. 3-9, 2019. Directed by assistant professor Courtney Brown, "The Hunchback of Seville" is the bitingly funny tale of Maxima Terriblé Segunda, the reclusive adopted sister of Spain's Queen Isabella. When Maxima is suddenly given the keys to the kingdom, she will have to navigate the complex terrain of prejudice, politics, religion, and the horrors of history in this madcap take on Spanish history and colonialism. 

The season continues Nov. 1-10, 2019 with the iconic tribal rock musical "Hair." Directed by professor Terri Kent and choreographed by guest artist Martín Céspedes, "Hair" features book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni & James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. The iconic Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical is the embodiment of late 1960s counterculture, exploring themes of race, war, freedom, and religion and features songs such as "Aquarius" and "Let the Sunshine In."

Artistic directed by associate professor Jeffrey Marc Rockland, the season continues Nov. 22-24, 2019 with "Dance '19: Dynamic Fusion." The weekend of choreography by Kent State faculty and performance by Kent State dance students includes the world premiere of the ballet "Cohen" and guest choreography and performance from faculty and students from Thailand's Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University. 

"Cohen," a work of music, theatre, and dance, is a tribute to the iconic singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen whose work embodies the spiritual, sensual, and political exploration of the human experience. A collaboration between choreographers Jeffrey Marc Rockland, Flamenco guest artist Alice Blumenfeld, and adjunct hip hop faculty member Samuel McIntosh, the ballet is set to several of Leonard Cohen's famous songs sung by Candian Folk singer Batsheva and arranged by John Capek. "Cohen" will also feature performances by Kent State music faculty Amitai Vardi, Erin Vaughn, and Jay Dorfman.

The 2019-2020 season resumes Feb. 21-March 1, 2020 with the powerful Tony Award-winning musical "Parade," based on the tragic, true story of Leo Frank. Directed by associate professor Fabio Polanco and with a book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, "Parade" explores religious intolerance, political injustice, and racial tension in the early 20th century South through the re-telling of the wrongful conviction and lynching of Leo Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan in 1913 Atlanta.

Senior B.F.A. dance performance candidates and undergraduate dance majors and minors present a weekend of original choreography and performance during the annual "B.F.A. Senior Dance Concert/Student Dance Festival." Under the direction of associate professor Barbara Allegra Verlezza, the concert runs March 13-15, 2020.

Celebrating its 29th season, the Kent Dance Ensemble will present its annual concert, "Emerge," April 3-5, 2020. Under the artistic direction of assistant professor Gregory King, Kent State's pre-professional dance company will perform choreography by a variety of guest artists.

The Student Theatre Festival, a weekend of entirely student-produced works, runs April 9-11, 2019. The annual festival, under the faculty direction of professor Daniel-Raymond Nadon, presents a variety of drama, comedy, musical theatre, dance, and improvisational works.

The School of Theatre and Dance continues its partnership with The Musical Theater Project once again with the presentation of a concert version of "Rothschild & Sons" on April 19, 2020. Directed by professor Terri Kent and with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Sherman Yellen, "Rothschild & Sons" is an epic tale of one family's journey through adversity to build a business empire from nothing.

The season concludes with the Roe Green Visiting Director Series presentation of William Shakespeare's "Richard II." Directed by 2019-2020 Roe Green Visiting Director Mark Valdez, "Richard II" is the dramatic and fateful story of England's Richard II whose wasteful and ineffective reign disillusion his countrymen, causing him to pay the ultimate price: his crown.

About the Roe Green Visiting Director Series

The Roe Green Visiting Director Series was established in 2003 by Kent State alumna and Cleveland-based philanthropist Roe Green. An initial $25,000 donation was repeated annually until 2018 when Ms. Green endowed the Series with a $2.2 million gift allowing it to continue in perpetuity. Through the program, the School of Theatre and Dance invites a guest professional director each year to work in residency with students and direct one of the School's Main Stage productions. The School of Theatre and Dance is fortunate to be able to offer this diverse opportunity to its students. Now in its 16th year, the Roe Green Visiting Director Series continues to bring professional directors to Kent State University.

About Mark Valdez, 2019-2020 Roe Green Visiting Director

Mark Valdez is an artist, organizer, and consultant based in Los Angeles. His work has been seen at theaters that include the Alliance Theatre, Cornerstone Theater Company, East West Players, La Peña Cultural Center, Mark Taper Forum, MACLA, and Teatro Vision, among others. Recent projects include Lisa Loomer’s play, Roe, at Mixed Blood Theatre, A Christmas Carol at Trinity Rep, and his adaptation of Gary Soto’s book, Chato’s Kitchen, at Childsplay Theatre in Tempe, AZ.

For over 20-years, Valdez has produced and created community engaged projects in his home state of California and around the country. During his tenure as the Executive Director of the Network of Ensemble Theaters, Mark designed and implemented the MicroFest USA project, hyper-local events that were part performance festival, part think-tanks celebrating art-based community development. MicroFest locations included Detroit, Appalachia (Knoxville, TN and Harlan County, KY), New Orleans, and Honolulu.

Presently, Mark is working on Exiled in America, a multi-year, multi-city project that aims to impact housing policy utilizing performance, cultural organizing, and creative community development strategies. He is also creating a new performance piece commissioned by Trinity Rep, with and for the Latinx population of Rhode Island called #latinxox.

Ticket Information

For tickets call 330-672-ARTS (2787), purchase online at or in person at the Performing Arts Box Office located in the Roe Green Center lobby of the Center for the Performing Arts at 1325 Theatre Drive. The box office is open Mon. – Fri., Noon to 5 pm. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for Kent State University alumni, $14 for faculty and staff, $14 for seniors (60+) and non-Kent State students age 18 and under are $10. Tickets for full-time, Kent campus undergraduates are free of charge. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $12 per person.  Flex pass subscriptions are also available. The box office accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover, checks, and cash. 


Media Contact:

Joni Koneval, 330-672-0116,

POSTED: Wednesday, August 28, 2019 11:17 PM
UPDATED: Saturday, December 03, 2022 01:02 AM