Acting alumni return to Rose Theatre

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rose Theatre was once a place where Patrick Abbott spent a lot of time. Even after a 10-year absence, the place is still very familiar.

"I had not set foot into Rose Theatre in a decade, and I walked in and it smelled exactly the same as it did when I first walked in when I was 8 years old," said Abbott.

This week Abbott will return to the stage with fellow Southeast Missouri State University alumni Scott Hamann and Mike Renick for a special theater production. The three men are starring in the award-winning comedy by French playwright Yasmina Reza, "Art," during Homecoming week at the university.

Director Dennis Seyer had long wanted to have a Homecoming play with alumni as actors and himself, also an alumnus, as director. This year it finally worked out.

"Art" is a comedy with a serious side. The characters are thrown into a debate about the nature of art and human relationships when one of them, Abbott's Serge, buys what is basically a plain white painting for a large sum of money.

The production is adult fare, dealing with adult issues, said Seyer, inappropriate for children, but thoughtful entertainment for the alumni who will flood Southeast over the coming week.

With only three characters and a stripped-down production style "Art" has to rely on the strength of its actors. Both Abbott, who graduated in the 1980s, and Hamann, who graduated in the 1990s, are experienced actors and products of the Southeast theater program. Renick, a 2001 grad, doesn't have a degree from the theater department but acted in high school and college.

None of them have done much acting since college, but they feel ready to take the stage Tuesday.

Hamann's last acting performance was in 1997.

"I always had a passion for performing, it was just not something I wanted to do as a living," said Hamann. "It's been itching at me for the last seven years."

The quality of the writing makes returning to the stage even better, said Renick.

"It's been a welcome challenge," Renick said. "The script is very, very good and it's a very real script. You can easily relate to it."

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