An upcoming musical theater production at the University of Wyoming is set to feature students from the university on stage alongside students from Laramie High School, the first time for such a collaboration.
“Pokes n’ Plainsmen” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Thrust Theatre. Tickets are $14 for the general public, $11 for seniors and $7 for students.
The production is directed by UW Theatre and Dance faculty members Leigh Selting and Patrick Konesko, alongside LHS drama instructor Michael Hancey. UW faculty member Sean Stone is providing musical direction.
“Pokes n’ Plainsmen,” taking a cue from the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, is a series of vignettes, monologues and songs about relationships and love, Selting said.
“We have songs, scenes and monologues about love sought, love lost, love gained — a variety of different treatments of relationships,” he said.
The production has come together quickly, as UW students returned to Laramie for the spring semester Jan. 28. Before working with the directors, students selected material and began initial rehearsals on their own.
“It’s been a tremendous ensemble effort,” Selting said.
Among the 34-person cast are five LHS students, who joined the production after open auditions. Selting said he approached Hancey about collaborating after attending several LHS productions last year and seeing an avenue for community outreach.
“I noticed that there were a large number of younger students who were very interested in theater and dance,” he said.
Selting said the UW students, some of whom were recently students at LHS, have used the opportunity to model for their younger counterparts the creative process they go through.
“I feel like our theatre and dance majors are getting an opportunity to serve in some respects as mentors to some of the high school students, in terms of how a production, rehearsal process and artistic endeavor happens at the next level,” he said.
Hancey said theater at UW has a different tempo than it does at LHS.
“It’s more intense at the collegiate level, and to see the few high school students we have involved just rise to that occasion has been really inspiring,” he said.
Hancey said his students have also enjoyed the opportunity to take direction from UW faculty.
“It’s awesome to see them work with the high school students and interact with them in a really positive and uplifting way,” he said.