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SIU’s School of Theater and Dance to show farce ‘Criminal Genius’

Cast of play rehearses on stage

SIU News

A play about what can happen when you don’t take responsibility comes to the Southern Illinois University Carbondale McLeod Theater stage next month.

“Criminal Genius,” a farcical comedy of missteps, follows the struggles of three criminals in their unsuccessful arson attempt to torch a restaurant and will leave audiences in stitches. The play is the last show of the School of Theater and Dance 2023-2024 season.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. May 2-4 and at 2 p.m. May 5. The play is geared for ages 16 and older and is not for children. Susan Patrick Steinfeldt, an associate professor in the School of Theater and Dance, is directing the production, and describes it as “naughty and dark slapstick comedy — think Quentin Tarantino writing without the gore.” She added that her late husband was in an off-Broadway production of George F. Walker’s play more than 20 years ago.

“I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I wanted a chance to direct it myself and let the students do this kind of high energy and fast pace.”

One mishap after another

In the play, a bumbling low-life thug and his son hired by a mob boss to burn down a restaurant instead kidnap the head chef, whom they discover is the mob boss’ daughter. The daughter tries to persuade her kidnappers to raid her father’s mansion before he finds them in the motel room where they are and kills all three of them.

The cast has been in rehearsal since early March, and the production is challenging, Patrick Steinfeldt said, noting the speed is “relentless and breakneck.”

Cast members are:

  • Rollie — Gabriel Pryor, freshman, theater.
  • Shirley — Lyndsey Bergman, senior, theater.
  • Stevie — James Medwedeff, senior, theater.
  • Amanda — Arianna Foreman, senior, theater.
  • Philly — Kim Curley, local Carbondale actor and director.

Additional theater personnel include M.K. Hughes, assistant professor of practice, School of Theater and Dance, scenic designer; Jaemin Park, assistant professor, School of Theater and Dance, lighting designer; Charles Lockridge, a graduate master’s student in theater, technical director, and Aleka Fischer, graduate master’s student in theater, costume design.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for senior citizens and $8 for students 17 and under or with a college ID. Tickets are available from 12:30 to 4 p.m. April 24 through May 3, and one hour before showtime at the McLeod Ticket Box Office in the Communications Building, the Banterra Center Box Office or by calling 618-453-6000.

Successful season

H. D. Motyl, director in the School of Theater and Dance, was pleased with the quality of work throughout the season.

“We had a great season of a variety of plays, and ‘Criminal Genius’ is the comedy cherry on top,” he said. “Even while we are putting the finishing touches on this season, we’re already working to bring another season of stellar plays, performances and designs next year.”

Pete Rosenbery — arts and design, architecture, automotive and aviation, humanities, journalism and mass communications, law, public policy, social sciences.

SIU News is produced by University Communications and Marketing - 618-453-2589. Twitter: @SIUCNews
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