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Landscape of the Body opens Feb. 18 on campus

Released: 02/04/2005

Richard Gwartney, chairman of LSU Alexandria's Department of Arts, English & Humanities, and Tammy Killian of Louisiana College have been cast in major acting roles for LSU Alexandria’s upcoming production of “Landscape of the Body.” Another college director, Jim Stacy of LSU Alexandria, will be making his local acting debut.

Stacy, who also is directing the show, said the cast is “a real bonanza of talent, including such seasoned pros as Tammy and Richard, joined by the best of LSUA’s student actors and another professional who is currently making her home in Alexandria, P.J. Davis-Oran.” Belle Rollins serves as assistant director and rehearsal stage manager; Ann McDowell will be production stage manager; and Doran O’Donnell is the technical director and lighting designer.

Killian plays the lead role, Betty Mandible Yearn, who is accused of murdering her son. Gwartney portrays Betty’s employer, Raulito, a flamboyant Cuban swindler, and Stacy takes on the role of Durwood Peach, a wealthy Southern planter and lunatic. Davis-Oran is Betty’s sister Rosalie, who is killed early in the play but returns, now happily dead, to narrate and to sing several show tunes under the musical direction and accompaniment of Michael Rorex of NSU, Natchitoches.

The cast also includes LSU Alexandria students Pete Falcone of Alexandria as Holahan, the desperate homicide detective; Dustin Johnson of Pineville as Bert, Betty’s teenaged son; Yolande Thornhill of Glenmora as Joann, Bert’s death-obsessed girlfriend; Matt Everett of Alexandria as Donny, Bert’s partner in crime; and Shannon Liotta of Woodworth as Margie, the abused tag-along friend. Completing the cast are Jessica Double of Lecompte as the homicidal bicyclist and Ann McDowell of Alexandria as the panicky bank teller. Understudies are Meghan Wiley of Pineville and Micah Vittetoe of Leesville.

Stacy said that John Guare, the author of “Landscape of the Body,” is one of his favorite playwrights, having also written the better known “House of Blue Leaves,” “Six Degrees of Separation” and the movie “Atlantic City.” Gwartney thinks that this production may also mark the premiere of Guare’s work in Alexandria. “The remarkable thing about this under-appreciated work,” Stacy said, “is that it works on three levels: a hilarious comedy, a sensational murder mystery and a disturbing tragedy, all in one play you will never forget. It is exciting, must-see theatre.” He also advises that the play contains some rough language and adult themes. “Since Guare is examining the American Dream trying to take root in a blighted urban landscape, he is dealing with some tough issues and images, not always easy to stomach.” Among other themes, Guare explores family, identity, and dreams.

This Empty Space Players production opens Friday, Feb. 18, at 7:30, with other 7:30 performance scheduled for Feb. 19, Feb. 24, Feb. 25, and Feb. 26. The Sunday matinees on Feb. 20 and 27 begin at 2:30 p.m., and a special matinee is planned for 1:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25. It will be staged in Room 205, Fitness Center/PE Building.

Ticket prices are $8 for the general public, $3 for LSU Alexandria students, and $5 for LSUA faculty and staff, senior citizens and students from other schools. Seating will be limited so reservations should be made by calling 473-6467 of 473-6581.