Prairie Repertory Theatre opened its 50th season with “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)” June 9 at the Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center.
Since opening its doors in 1970, PRT has brought the joy of performance art and theatre to eastern South Dakota. Each summer, it brings hardworking, talented performers to build fantastic shows, drawing patrons near and far to South Dakota State University’s campus.
Before the 2021 opener, Prairie Repertory Theatre has played 12,801 performances of 206 productions to 539,824 patrons. More than 1,700 South Dakota State University students have participated, often in multiple seasons.
Prairie Repertory Theatre alumni have had successful careers in diverse disciplines including medicine, law, agriculture, finance and performance art. Some have earned graduate degrees from Purdue University, Virginia Tech, Yale University, Michigan State University and more. Notable alumni include Jarrod Emick ex. ’91, who received a Tony Award for his performance in the Broadway revival of “Damn Yankees;” Kevin Gudahl ’79, one of Chicago’s most recognizable performers, was recently named Chicago Magazine’s Actor of the Year; Casey McEnelly ’98 currently serves as director of finance and operations at Dance/USA.
"My commitment to PRT has to do with our two-part mission: intensive training for students in the company and presenting the best possible productions,” J.D. Ackman ’78, an SDSU professor and director of theatre, said. Ackman has been involved in 64 PRT productions throughout his career as both director and performer. “Those two elements could be seen as being at odds, but it is always a joy when we are able to accomplish both."
This summer, Ackman directed “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)” and returns to the stage in “The Gin Game.”
This season is even more meaningful to PRT following the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 season.
“Quilters” hits the stage Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Performances continue nightly through Saturday and there will also be a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday. “The Gin Game” will have performances June 23-26 at 7:30 p.m. and June 26 at 2 p.m. The season closes with the award-winning musical, “Little Shop of Horrors,” June 30-July 3 at 7:30 p.m. and July 3 at 2 p.m.
“Prairie Repertory Theatre is proud to present our 50th season, and we look forward to beginning our second 50 years in 2022,” Ackman said.