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Muddy Waters Theatre Co. | The Lady From Dubuque

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prof_muddy-waters_sm.jpg"It is the bond between the performer and audience that drives this show's success."







prof_muddy-waters.jpgI got a chance to talk with Cameron Ulrich, who is directing Edward Albee's The Lady from Dubuque, and Patty Ulrich, a cast member. The Ulrichs are the founders and co-artistic directors of Muddy Waters Theatre Company, now in its sixth year.

Muddy Waters is unique in the St. Louis area for choosing three plays from one playwright each season. This year, Edward Albee is the choice, and one of his lesser-known works, The Lady from Dubuque, is following a successful and critically acclaimed run of Three Tall Women. It's become customary to bookend the season with titles that are familiar to audiences, but also to produce a show they many have never had the opportunity to see, yet alone hear of. The closer this year will be the iconic Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The Ulrichs are committed, in Cameron's words, "...To educate audiences and artists, to appreciate the assets that theater has to offer, and to foster the voices of innovative, imaginative, contemporary, diverse playwrights while respecting the roots of [theater's] history." Albee fits right in this description, along with playwrights produced in past seasons including, most recently, Sam Shepard, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. The company earned several Kevin Kline nominations for the Shepard works.

Muddy Waters has come a long way in a short time, from its first tiny space in Soulard to the Theatre at St. John's, and now as one of the three resident companies at the Kranzberg Center for the Performing Arts in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters Building in the Grand Center area. It's a beautiful new space which only enhances its tenants' offerings.

Both Ulrichs come from theater backgrounds and have advanced degrees in drama. Both are educators, as well as actors and directors. Cameron is also a specialist in techniques of stage combat and fight choreography. They are excited about their work, and it shows onstage.

They expressed their hope that audiences will see theater as they do: as important to the individual and cultural life of the community. They want to share their passion with you, and the time to see what Muddy Waters is all about has never been better.

The Lady from Dubuque may well be a play the likes of which you've never seen. It is a mystery, a journey, an examination of self, of love, life and death. And it's a comedy. After you meet Elizabeth and Oscar, Sam and Jo and their friends, they won't be easily forgotten. The audience is crucial to collaboration with this show, as it calls on those witnessing the action to help create it and to make meaning. It is challenging, but it is also great fun, and it will provide much to discuss afterwards.

A cast of some of St. Louis's best (and best known) actors bring these intriguing characters to life: Emily Baker, Sarah Cannon, G.P. Hunsaker, Robert A. Mitchell, Todd Pieper, Joshua Thomas, Patty Ulrich and Kirsten Wylder. The Ulrichs note that, in part, they chose this play to be able to work with such a talented and experienced cast. The script is challenging, but this group is more than up to it.

Also, the players are able to "convey the depth of humor that allows them and us to visit the dark side of human experience," Cameron said. Finally, he iterated, "It is the bond between the performer and audience that drives this show's success." So, come on out for this rare event, and stay tuned for exciting news about next year's playwright. You'll hear all about it when you come to see The Lady from Dubuque. | Andrea Braun

The Lady from Dubuque runs June 12-28. Tickets are available by calling 314-799-8399 or through the webFor more information, visit Muddy Waters' website..

*Full disclosure: The author is involved with this production as dramaturge and as a consultant for the theater's Board of Directors.

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