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USD Theatre Announces 2019-2020 Season

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota Department of Theatre travels around the world and across history to bring audiences an eclectic season of shows this year. Season ticket packages are currently available for the four-show mainstage season in the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre.

First, it’s a trip to Mississippi in the 1910s with Tennessee Williams’ “The Eccentricities of a Nightingale.” This achingly beautiful play is Williams’ revised and definitive version of his earlier play “Summer and Smoke.” Blending humor and pathos, realism and poetry, hope and regret, “Eccentricities” runs Sept. 26 – 29.

The fall semester concludes with “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” adapted from Victor Hugo’s classic novel and the beloved Disney film. Journey back to Medieval France and the iconic cathedral as we follow the fortunes of the beautiful heroine Esmeralda and the bell-ringer Quasimodo. Written by Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz and Peter Parnell, “Hunchback” runs Nov. 22-24 and Dec. 5-8.

In February, USD Theatre goes on a whitewater ride with “Men on Boats,” written by one of America’s most exciting new playwrights, Jaclyn Backhaus. Travel with us to John Wesley Powell’s 1869 exploration of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon. Backhaus recasts the historical males with women performers in this hilarious and insightful ode to the adventurous pioneer spirit. The uniquely metatheatrical “Men on Boats” runs Feb. 20-23.

The season concludes with a visit to the Jazz Age with “The Drowsy Chaperone.” This 21st century musical is a loving and hilarious send-up of 1920s musicals, filled with delightful music, madcap comedy and show-stopping dances. The impending wedding of a Broadway star and an oil tycoon nearly hits the rocks with all the intrigue created by a scheming producer, a tipsy chaperone and two dancing gangsters. “Chaperone” runs April 17-19 and 23-26.

These four diverse shows will be presented in the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Season tickets, which provide a 25% savings over standard ticket prices, are $45 for adults, $36 for senior citizens (62+) and $30 for youth (k-12) and non-USD students. A form for ordering season tickets can be downloaded from the USD Theatre ticket information website or can be requested by calling 605.658.3484 or emailing us at

In addition to our four-show mainstage season, we are excited to present two additional offerings. The intimate setting of the Arena Stage will be home to the regional premiere of “Story of Susanna” by Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl. Inspired by the character from the biblical apocrypha, this play examines gender expectations, sexuality and the cycles of violence that impact women from many walks of life. This award-winning Native Hawaiian and Samoan playwright takes us on a poetic journey that ultimately leaves us with a message of hope. “Susanna” runs Oct. 24-27. In the spring, we will launch the inaugural Ronald L. Moyer One-Act Play Festival. This popular annual event has been renamed in honor of the longtime USD theatre professor and department chair. The collection of short, student-directed plays runs March 20 – 22. 


USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News