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March 2006

Release Date: March 8, 2006

ASU ‘Proposals’ Production Takes New Direction

Eldra Sanford has spent her last six years at Angelo State University as the costume director for theater productions, but she’ll be in the director’s chair when Neil Simon’s touching comedy “Proposals” takes the stage, beginning Thursday, March 23.

The play will show at 8 p.m. March 23-25 and March 30-April 1. There will be a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, March 26. All shows will be in the Modular Theater in the Carr Education-Fine Arts Building.

When Sanford arrived at ASU almost six years ago as the costume designer for the Department of Communications, Drama and Journalism, she brought with her a lifetime of experience with theatrical productions, including more than a decade as a freelance costume designer for productions in Wichita, Kans.

As a costume designer, Sanford gained invaluable research experience in her duties providing historical accuracy to her productions. That attention to detail has carried over to her direction of “Proposals,” which is set in the Pocono Mountains in the 1950s.

“As a director, I’m focusing on the whole play,” Sanford said. “I have to take a lot of deep breaths and do lots of research, but in costuming, I spend hours on research.

“In costuming, you don’t focus on just that aspect. You’ve also got to follow the director’s vision, coordinate it with the set and follow the vision of the playwright. In directing, you have the ability to say ‘no’ to an aspect if you want it a certain way. There’s more coordinating, keeping people on schedule.”

“Proposals” recalls the last time the Hines family gathered at their retreat in the Poconos. That summer in 1953 was one of animated romantic entanglements that overlap on one idyllic afternoon.

Burt Hines, a 55-year-old recovering workaholic convalescing from a second heart attack, eagerly anticipates the arrival of the ex-wife, Annie, whom he still loves. His daughter Josie has just broken her engagement to an intense Harvard law student and pines for his buddy Ray, an aspiring writer with whom she once had a brief fling.

Clemma, the black housekeeper at the center of the action, is dreading a visit from the husband who deserted her years before. He strolls in with one working eye, one working hand and a guilty conscience. A model with a strikingly dim intellect shows up on Ray's arm, and a young Miami gangster with a gift for malapropisms brings comic joy to the gathering.

“This play contains the deepest human element Simon has added in his scripts,” Sanford said. “He slides so seamlessly between comedy and drama that once you realize it’s drama, you’ve slid back into comedy.”

Sanford ’s attention to detail has permeated all aspects of the play.

Amber Phillips, who is in her first leading role at ASU in the role of Annie, said she pored through 1950s magazines to learn the stereotypes of women from the era. She also watched the Alfred Hitchcock thriller “Rear Window” to get a feel for Grace Kelly’s mannerisms.

“It’s one thing to just memorize lines,” Phillips said. “But when you develop the character, become a character on-stage, develop an inner monologue, it becomes more than just lines. The audience can feel that. The emotion comes out, and it’s the soul of the art.”

Ticket prices are $8 for general admission, $4 for non-ASU students, $3 for ASU students and season subscribers, and free for ASU Activity Card holders. The box office will be open 2-6 p.m. Monday-Friday beginning March 8. For more information or for reservations, call 942-2000.

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