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Syracuse University Partners with Broadway’s Araca Group to Mentor Alums

Jacob Coakley • SD University • September 7, 2011

The Araca Group has partnered with Syracuse University to mentor recent producing grads.

The Araca Group has partnered with Syracuse University to mentor recent producing grads.

The Araca Group has partnered with Syracuse University to mentor recent producing grads.

Syracuse University is looking to build on its network of alums to help their recent grads. The Araca Group—the producers behind Urinetown on Broadway and a little show called Wicked—was formed by three guys, two of whom are Syracuse alums. The partnership between Syracuse and Araca will give selected recent grads mentorship as they mount a production Off-Broadway. The students are responsible for all fundraising and production tasks, with the Araca group providing guidance. The first show in this series, Pluck the Day, opens Thursday, Sept. 8. This seems like a great experiment in developing new producers and new theatre artists—with an upside of talent scouting for the Araca group, too.

The press release mentions that the partnership between Syracuse and Araca selects the young alums who will be mentored to produce—presumably because Araca has looked at the projects themselves and have some interest in seeing what possible future they may have. This is a fairly ingenious way of empowering the next generation of producers, letting them search out and find fresh new talent, then helping fund (in an indirect way) a low risk production of a new play to see how it flies. Heck, it certainly beats another staged reading.

Broadway’s Araca Group and Syracuse University Announce Production Partnership

Performances begin tomorrow September 8 at American Theatre of Actors

Tomorrow marks the debut of a pioneering partnership between Broadway’s Araca Group, one of New York City’s leading theatrical production and merchandising companies, and The Department of Drama in Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). The Araca Group was founded by two Syracuse alumni, Mike Rego and Hank Unger; and Matthew Rego.

On September 8 the curtain will rise on Pluck the Day at The American Theatre of Actors (314 West 54th Street).  This is the first of four shows to open through a program created by the two organizations that gives selected theater artists the opportunity to take on the full artistic and fiscal responsibilities of producing their work off-Broadway.

“The Araca Project is a groundbreaking partnership between a university department and a major producing organization in support of early-career alumni,” says Ralph Zito, chair of the Department of Drama. “In an industry that is, by its nature, an entrepreneurial endeavor, SU Drama students are very lucky to have access to a large network of dedicated alumni who understand the value of supporting emerging artists and advancing the art of theater.” Alumni of the university include Frank Langella, Vanessa Williams, Taye Diggs and Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Arielle Tepper Madover.

Through the Araca Project, artists take initiative and assume the responsibility of a producer, including securing production rights from an author, casting, rehearsing, assembling design elements, raising capital, engaging a creative team, loading in and out a physical production, budgeting, marketing and maintaining a box office/ticketing system. The Araca Group, in conjunction with SU, is mentoring the artists as they move into production; however, the artists are responsible for producing their shows.

“I know what it’s like to graduate and try to figure out how to get started in this business. We hope that the Araca Project will provide emerging theater artists the opportunity to shape their artistic destinies and engage their entrepreneurial spirit,” says Michael Rego. “We are thrilled to partner with Syracuse University and look forward to the future of this exciting endeavor.”

The four projects will all be presented at the American Theatre of Actors located at 314 West 54th Street in New York City.  Tickets are $20.  Student tickets are $10 (with I.D.)  The performance schedule follows:

Pluck the Day (Sept. 8-18); Purchase Tickets Here

The Tramaine Experience (Sept. 22-Oct. 2); Purchase Tickets Here

Peter and I (Oct. 6-16) Purchase Tickets Here ; and

The Odyssey (Oct. 20-30) Purchase Tickets Here

Pluck the Day, a new searing comedy, is set on a sun-drenched, emotionally challenged parcel of the West Texas landscape. Here, three friends are held captive by apathy, fear and addiction awaiting a savior.

The Tramaine Experience: An Urban Dramedy is a fresh, hip, art house theatrical work emerging from a burgeoning generation of thought and performance art. Set in inner-city Chicago, this hilarious and touching One Man Show highlights the humanity all people share beyond stereotypes created by environmental and experiential circumstances.

Peter and I is a new contemporary rock musical about Michael Llewellyn Davies, the inspiration for Peter Pan, or “The Boy Who Never Grew Up.” The piece explores the clash between fantasy and reality; the inertia that is a tragic necessity of our everyday lives, but also threatens to take over our dreams.

Based on the classic poem by Homer, ODYSSEY is a thrilling musical adventure that follows Odysseus’ epic journey home after the Trojan War. Join Odysseus as he encounters the lotus-eaters, outwits the Cyclops, resists the Sirens and battles the gods in a quest to return home to his wife and son.

The Araca Group launched in 1997 with a simple mission: to produce the work of emerging playwrights off- and off-off-Broadway. The group soon established a reputation as a leading theatrical production company; its inaugural Broadway undertaking, the critically acclaimed Urinetown: The Musical, received numerous major awards, including three Tonys. Other Araca productions included Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, the blockbuster musical Wicked, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, Lend Me a Tenor and Rock of Ages.  In addition, Araca is now the largest screen printing and merchandising company on Broadway and strives to transform the live entertainment experience with innovative apparel, souvenirs and licensed products. Learn more at www.araca.com.

VPA is committed to the education of cultural leaders who will engage and inspire audiences through performance, visual art, design, scholarship and commentary. The college provides the tools for self-discovery and risk-taking in an environment that thrives on critical thought and action. Learn more at http://vpa.syr.edu.

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