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'On the Verge' A Comedy That Travels In Time May 23-June 1

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May 13, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Eric Overmyer's amusing romp "On the Verge," the Theatre and Interpretation Center at Northwestern University's final Mainstage production for the 2007-08 season, follows three Victorian lady explorers as they travel forward in time to 1950s America. With wit, charm and intelligence as their weapons of choice, these ladies share tales of their past adventures.

Performances will take place at 8 p.m. Friday, May 23; 8 p.m. Saturday, May 24; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 25; 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 28; 8 p.m. Thursday, May 29; 8 p.m. Friday, May 30; 8 p.m. Saturday, May 31; and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 1, at the Ethel M. Barber Theatre, 30 Arts Circle Drive, on the University's Evanston campus.

The three women are attired in pith helmets and 19th century corsets as they set out on their stage adventures that take them to the deepest jungles of Africa and the highest Himalayan mountains. They climb a steep ladder on stage in their search of unknown lands.

"'On the Verge' was written in 1984 by Eric Overmyer, who writes for television and who loves words," said the production's director Cindy Gold, associate professor of theatre in Northwestern's School of Communication and a nationally recognized actress. "His play travels in time from 1888 to the 1950s and is based on true stories. We updated the play a bit to the present with a number of visual references such as iPhones, iPods and current music, such as disco, techno and punk, sounds that the Victorian ladies find repugnant."

In one scene set in the early 1950s, they meet Dwight D. Eisenhower and encounter an "I Like Ike" presidential campaign button. They discover words such as "Jacuzzi," "laser disc" and "S & H Green Stamps" that sound foreign to these time-traveling explorers. They also encounter real objects from their future, which roll down the stage, such as hula-hoops and Campbell's soup cans.

The three female Northwestern student cast members play the three women explorers who range in age from early- and mid-20s to close to 50. The fourth cast member also is a Northwestern student, and he portrays nine different characters, including a furry baby Yeti (or Abominable Snowman), a mysterious man who predicts the future, a lounge singer and a 1950s beat-era greaser.

"Since all the students in the play are actually 21, I had to explain the references from the past to them," said Gold. "However, the actors and the crew helped me by contributing current words and phrases used in the production. Eighty-nine year old Anne Hardy Thurman, a (theater) professor emeritus with Northwestern's School of Communication and an alumna, will record the voiceover audiences will hear. As a result, there is a wide age range and a great collaboration in this production that audience members of all ages will enjoy."

Single tickets to "On the Verge" are $25 for the general public; $22 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $10 for full-time students and children. For tickets, call (847) 491-7282. Tickets also are available through OvationTix at http://www.tic.northwestern.edu/tickets.php.