Lab Theatre to Perform Brian Crawley’s Violet

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –– The School of Theatre Arts’ Lab Theatre will present the play Violet by Brian Crawley on Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23 starting at 8 p.m., and Sunday, March 24 at 2 p.m., in the E. Melba Johnson Kirkpatrick Laboratory Theatre.

Violet is a moving musical that features show-stopping anthems, ranging from American-roots to folk to gospel sounds. It follows the story of a young disfigured woman who in 1964 embarks on a journey by bus from her farm in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma in order to be healed.

The lead role of Violet will be played by Jessica McGrew ’19. The rest of the cast includes Emily Strub ’20 (young Violet), Jared Garner ’21 (Flick), Braden Tanner ’20 (Monty), Carson Grey ’20 (Father), Kara Ryan ’19 (Old Lady), Jim Conklin ’20 (Preacher / Radio Soloist / Bus Driver 1 / Bus Driver 4), Maxwell Kleve ’20 (Virgil / Billy Dean / Bus Driver 2 / Radio Singer / Bus Passenger), Cheron Whittley ’21 (Music Hall Singer / Bus Passenger), Morgan McCane ’20 (Lula Buffington / Amelita (Landlady) / Bus Passenger), and Josiah Tennent ’20 (Leroy Evans / Radio Singer / Bus Driver 3 / Passenger).

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Scott Susong is excited for audiences to see the product of the students’ hard work. “This play was chosen to feature the talents of the current School of Theatre Arts students,” Susong said.

The play sends a message of self acceptance and love that goes beyond appearances. “Any time we are able to hold up a mirror and reflect upon our humanity and history it is meaningful,” Susong said.

When Violet premiered off-Broadway in 1997, it won the Drama Critics' Circle Award and Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical. In 2014, a revised Broadway version was nominated for a Tony Award. The play features a score from Tony-winning composer Jeanine Tesori, with book and lyrics by acclaimed playwright Brian Crawley. The play is inspired by the short story, The Ugliest Pilgrim by Doris Betts.

Tickets for Violet go on sale Monday, March 18 and are $3 for general admission and seniors. Tickets are $2 for Illinois Wesleyan students with a valid I.D.

Tickets are available for purchase in person or over the phone with the Box Office. The Box Office hours are 12:30 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the Box Office at (309) 556-3232.

The E. Melba Johnson Kirkpatrick Laboratory Theatre (1312 Park St., Bloomington) can be accessed from Ames Plaza on the west side of Presser Hall.

By Megan Baker ’21