Broadway comes to Coe's Thursday Forum

Extra: Lonnie Zingula, Associate Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8613 or

2009-03-26 07:57:02 - General

Alma A. Turechek Professor of Music Richard Hoffman, Coe College's own "Mr. Broadway," closes out the Thursday Forum academic year in April by examining four relatively new shows that have helped "save" Broadway. Hoffman introduces these shows that have kept the creative quality of Broadway entertainment at the highest level by their excellence. All of these shows have been met with critical acclaim and enthusiastic audiences, and some have also earned scads of money.

Week one highlights the Tony Award-winning musical "Spring Awakening," the hottest teen-angst show to appear on Broadway in years. Opening in 2006 and closing several weeks ago, the production is a musical treatment of German playwright Frank Wedekind's original and scandalous play written in 1891 and banned from German stages until the early 1900s. American song-writer Duncan Sheik has composed rock-styled musical selections and super-charged dramatic elements that invoke modern Broadway's landmark musicals, "Hair" and "Rent."

Week two introduces "The Light in the Piazza," a Tony Award-winning romantic adventure set in mid-1950s Italy. Based on the novella by Elizabeth Spencer, the play centers around the discovery of love in the most unlikely of places. Young composer/lyricist Adam Guettel, the grandson of legendary Broadway musical composer Richard Rodgers, has given voice to rare Italian light and the theme of love pervades the score and the story.

A puppet show highlights week three with 2004's Best Musical, "Avenue Q." Still playing to sold-out houses in New York City and currently touring around the world, this is the "little show that could." Audience warning: some of these characters are pretty "randy" in their dialog and lyrics, but who could not love a show that opens with the lyric "What do you do.with a BA in English?"

Oprah Winfrey's massive media influence is felt in the final Thursday Forum of the year with a presentation on "The Color Purple." Lauded for her outstanding performance as the much-persecuted Sofia in Steven Spielberg's film version of the show, Winfrey has revisited this passionate story by novelist Alice Walker as executive producer of the Broadway musical version, which debuted in 2005. Audiences have literally been lifted from their seats by this soulful, Gospel-infused score and its provocative story.

The lectures will be held April 9, 16, 23 and 30 in Daehler-Kitchin Auditorium in Marquis Hall on the Coe campus. Each session begins at 9:15 a.m. and lasts until about 11:30 a.m. The course is open to all adults and registration is on-site. The cost of the four-part series is $30, or $10 per week. The series will conclude with a luncheon on the final Thursday for an additional $8.

For more information, call (319) 399-8561.