KSU-Trumbull’s Upcoming Season Includes ‘American Idiot,’ ‘Margaritaville’

WARREN, Ohio – Kent State University-Trumbull Theatre’s 2023-24 season will include the Valley premieres of “American Idiot” – the rock musical built around the Green Day album of the same name – and “Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville.”

The lineup, announced this week, is a daring one that reflects the campus’ efforts to expand its theater program and increase ticket sales.

The coming season also includes a reading of “A Christmas Carol,” the classic drama “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “I and You,” a little-known drama by Lauren Gunderson, who is one of the most-produced contemporary playwrights.

As part of the rebuilding of its theater program in the wake of the pandemic, Kent-Trumbull’s upcoming season also has more productions than usual. Past years had only three.

“Kent State Trumbull is indeed aiming high,” said professor Eric S. Kildow, director of theater. Administrators on the campus and university level “are being very supportive of our attempts to expand our programming and outreach,” he said.

The campus only recently launched a four-year theater degree program. As it emerges from the cancellations forced by the pandemic, it is attempting to offer the best theater program and education in the Valley, Kildow said.

The campus already has the only program in the area accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre. 

“We’re even looking at bringing another theater faculty member on board here at Trumbull Campus,” Kildow said.

In selecting titles for the 2023-24 season, Kildow and his team looked for works that would provide a good experience to students while appealing to a wide audience.

“We’ve been offering a number of really beautiful, and critically successful, pieces that have not been particularly well attended,” Kildow said. “So I also consulted with members of the community to see what was registering on their radar.”

Even though it has only been around for five years, “Margaritaville” was an easy choice because of the beachcombing singer-songwriter’s popularity.

“I’m also a longtime fan,” Kildow admitted.

The classic drama “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” skews a bit older than a student population, so Kildow also added “I and You,” which requires a young cast.

“It’s probably the least recognizable name in the season, but the playwright, Lauren Gunderson, is currently one of the most-produced playwrights in the English language not named Shakespeare,” Kildow said. “It’s a sweet, beautiful play.”

The season will end on an edgier note with “American Idiot,” the rock opera about disaffected suburban youth. The show, written by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer, is a sung-through musical that follows the plot of the album. It opened on Broadway in 2009 and ran for 422 performances.

“Given the success of [Kent Trumbull’s production of] ‘RENT’ last summer, I had proof of concept that we could do more grown-up oriented musicals and still be able to cover the bills,” Kildow said.

The productions of “Margaritaville” and “American Idiot” will both feature a live band, Kildow said.

Season tickets for the 2023-24 season will go on sale March 1; to purchase, click HERE.

Individual tickets are $20 for musicals ($17 for students/seniors; $15 for children under 13), and $10 for plays ($8 students/seniors; $6 for children under 13), and will go on sale July 1. Contact the box office at 330 675 8887 or trumbullboxoffice@kent.edu.

Here’s a closer look at the upcoming season:

  • “Jimmy Buffett’s Escape from Margaritaville” (Nov. 9-12, 16-19), a musical comedy featuring Buffett classics “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “Margaritaville,” “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” “Fins,” “Volcano” and more. Directed by Eric S. Kildow, music direction by Matt White, choreography by Emelia Sherin.
  • “A Christmas Carol” reading (Dec. 8), a reading of Charles Dickens’ beloved novella by Peter Byrne and company, in the Trumbull Campus Union, with hot cocoa and treats.
  • “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (March 1-3, 8-10), Edward Albee’s play that lays bare the despair and bitterness of a college professor and his wife during a night of drinking. Directed by Tom Engstrom.
  • “I and You” (April 26-28, May 3-5), Lauren Gunderson’s intimate portrait of an unlikely pair of classmates who bond over Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” Directed by Brian Westerley.
  • “American Idiot” (July 18-21, 25-28), the two-time Tony Award-winning hit musical based on Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning multiplatinum album. Directed and choreographed by Emelia Sherin, with music direction by Rosie Bresson.

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