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Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

Northwest Associate Professor of Theatre Amanda Petefish-Schrag, right, directs students during a rehearsal of “Death Comes for Jesse James,” a musical she co-wrote with her husband. The production tells the story of the famed James Gang by blending classical tragedy, modern myth and American history into a folk musical. Northwest theater students present the world premiere of the musical April 17-21.

Northwest Associate Professor of Theatre Amanda Petefish-Schrag, right, directs students during a rehearsal of “Death Comes for Jesse James,” a musical she co-wrote with her husband. The production tells the story of the famed James Gang by blending classical tragedy, modern myth and American history into a folk musical. Northwest theater students present the world premiere of the musical April 17-21. (Photos by Darren Whitley/University Relations)

April 4, 2013

Northwest to present premiere of ‘Death Comes for Jesse James’

In addition to teaching numerous performing arts courses and directing plays at Northwest, Petefish-Schrag has written scripts for five other productions.

In addition to teaching numerous performing arts courses and directing plays at Northwest, Petefish-Schrag has written scripts for five other productions.

Ben Schrag, right, practices musical numbers with Northwest student Cody Bradley during a rehearsal of “Death Comes for Jesse James.”

Ben Schrag, right, practices musical numbers with Northwest student Cody Bradley during a rehearsal of “Death Comes for Jesse James.”

For the second time in its 2012-2013 season, Northwest Missouri State University’s Theatre Northwest is set to open a world premiere production.

The curtain will rise on “Death Comes for Jesse James” at 7:30 p.m. April 17-20 and at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 21, in the Studio Theater at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts. With book and lyrics written by Northwest Associate Professor of Theatre Amanda Petefish-Schrag and her husband, Ben Schrag, and music by composer Michael Trosvig, the production is anticipated to be a momentous close to the production season.

“Death Comes for Jesse James” blends classical tragedy, modern myth and American history into a folk musical. Petefish-Schrag believes audiences will relate to the unique characters and plotline.

“Even though this play is about the life of a famous outlaw, at its core this is a tale about ordinary people stuck in extraordinary circumstances,” Petefish-Schrag said. “These are characters that are passionate and desperate to get what they want, but that also makes them recognizable to us. This isn’t a musical about tap-dancing bank robbers – it’s about the hopes, dreams and tragic twists of a story rooted deep in our American culture.” 

The story of the James Gang is already familiar to residents of northwest Missouri and the playwrights used the real history of the region as the basis for their dramatic work.

“We tried hard to start with what was true for the people in this story and what was true for the time that this story took place,” Schrag said. “These people were trying to raise families and figure out how to live normal lives while the world around them was intensely divided with deeply entrenched political parties – a reality that resonates strongly with people in today’s day and age.”

Participating in the debut is exciting for the actors involved as well. Collaborating for an original piece gives the Northwest students a chance to gain experiential insight into the performing arts production process.

The cast features Hannah Jahal as Mrs. Mimms, Tanner Marchisello as Frank James, Dana Masters as Zee James, Delaney McKenzie as Ma, Tony Pulford as Jesse James and Connor Weiss as Jesse James Jr. Narrators are Lindsay Masin, Megan Oliver and Helen Strotman.

“Participating in the development of new plays is of great value to students,” Petefish-Schrag said. “It challenges students to face risk and uncertainty with boldness and an open-mind, which is exactly the kind of problem-solving and innovation demanded in the arts and the 21st century workplace.”

Petefish-Schrag, Northwest’s 2010 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education, joined the Northwest faculty in 2006. In addition to teaching numerous performing arts courses and directing plays, she has written scripts for five other productions.

All tickets may be purchased for $8 at the Student Services Center on the first floor of the Administration Building from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Patrons wishing to order tickets over the phone may call 660.562.1212 and must have a valid credit card.

For more information, contact Petefish-Schrag at 660.562.1045 or aschrag@nwmissouri.edu.

 


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468