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Bicknell to host Broadway production of “South Pacific”

As part of its “Best of Broadway” series, the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts is bringing the Broadway production of South Pacific to Pittsburg, Kansas.

The show, a tale of two love affairs set on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean during World War II, will be presented of Feb. 20 in the Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall starting at 7 p.m.

The “Best of Broadway” series is an effort by the Bicknell Center to bring Broadway performances to the Pittsburg area by hosting shows for single-day performances throughout the year at discounted prices to students. The prices of the most expensive tickets to these shows at the Bicknell rival some of the cheapest prices at other locations, thus providing the Pittsburg community with an affordable opportunity to see Broadway-caliber actors on stage.

“South Pacific is a traditional Hollywood film that most people have seen, but it started as a musical on Broadway,” said Joseph Firman, director of the Bicknell Center. “It is a love story wrapped in World War II. It’s on a South Pacific island where the U. S. military has set up a base, and it follows the military men who are away from home, the nurses, and the local residents as they live in constant fear of the Japanese attacking and also prepare for the war that is raging, finding love along the way.”

The process of bringing a Broadway-caliber show to a small community like Pittsburg begins far in advance of the show itself, through a system of contracts and close communication with the Bicknell Center’s staff.

“More than a year before any Broadway show comes in, we get a technical writer and contract from the show,” said Jonathan Eastman, technical director at the Bicknell Center. “They tell us what their needs are, how many people they need to work the show, their minimum requirements for the size of the stage, and we negotiate with them as to what will work and what won’t. Then we fill out a contract with them saying that if they do the show, we will pay them. As things get closer to (showtime), we get more information that details when (the show) will arrive, what will be hung where. Once I have all of that information, I can get started working on the stage side of it.”

In addition to the students currently serving as Bicknell Center staff, the Bicknell recruits students from across campus to help with the massive amount of unloading and set-up required for show day.

“The work starts at approximately 7 a.m. in the morning,” Eastman said. “(The staff) will work until 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. in the afternoon. Then they’ll get a break before starting work again at 10 p.m. that evening and working until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. the next morning. It makes for a very long day. This particular show, the cheer team and the dance team are coming over to assist because we have to have a staff of 46 to work the show.”

Tickets for the Bicknell’s showing of “South Pacific” can be purchased either in-person at the PSU Ticket Office, online via the event’s page (pittstate.edu), or at the Bicknell on the day of the show pending availability. Students can receive a discount on tickets with proof of I.D.

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