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Theatre Arts Department launches professional stage company

January 12, 2012 : Liberty University News Service

Liberty University’s Department of Theatre Arts is overflowing with blessings.

The department has announced the creation of the Alluvion Stage Company, a new professional theatre company. Alluvion (meaning overflow) will aim to enrich, educate and entertain the community by providing a superior theater experience in a wholesome family environment, said Linda Nell Cooper, department chair.

“We want to overflow into the community in a joyful and creative expression of art,” she said.

Alluvion will bring to Lynchburg shows never before seen on the Liberty stage, or in Central Virginia, and shows never before performed in the Lynchburg area by a professional company.  The stage company will call Tower Theater its home, beginning with Peter Pan in April.

Alluvion Stage Company will perform in Liberty University's Tower Theater.

Alluvion productions will vary greatly from the other shows in the department’s mainstage season, Cooper said. Professional guest artists will be part of the cast and crew, the audition process will be meticulous (with in-house and external auditions), the sets will meet professional standards, and costumes will be designed specifically for each cast member.

Audiences shouldn’t expect anything less than Broadway quality productions, she said.

For Liberty, Alluvion means national exposure. It will allow the university to seek other professional opportunities in the industry, expanding horizons greatly for Theatre Arts students. Some will graduate with professional credit under their belt, putting them one step ahead. If students are not cast in Alluvion shows, the company will still give them an opportunity to grow and develop through professional workshops and industry connections.

Alumni will also benefit, with the opportunity to return to their alma mater and perform with a faith-based cast and crew in an environment where their professional credentials will be upheld. Professional actor and Liberty alumnus Chris Nelson has been cast as Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

Cooper said Peter Pan, which she is directing, was the perfect opportunity to launch Alluvion.

“It is the quintessential family show, the main focus of Alluvion. With a show like Peter Pan, doing it well, with professional standards, allows for magic to be maximized. A whole other side comes alive.”

It’s a show Liberty has never been able to do, but now can with the theater’s new fly system, Cooper said. It will feature professional guest artist Tim Mackay from Flying by Foy as Flight Director. His Broadway credits include Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Equus, Billy Elliott and The Tony Awards.

Opening night is April 13, with 16-20 performances planned. Tickets go on sale Feb. 1.

Cooper said she knew the University was ready for a professional theatre company after Phantom of the Opera debuted in April 2011.

“It was clear that we had substantial talent and resources at our fingertips,” she said.

While the Central Virginia audience demands shows like Phantom, the department has to make sure they don’t interfere with the academic offerings, she said.

“Alluvion will allow us to continue to pursue the big shows while upholding excellence in academia.”