Actors in Three Musketeers costumesWe’re Back!

Live on stage in Waller Hall, Theater-by-the-Grove presents the premiere production of a new play by Pittsburgh playwright TJ Young. The Inseparables is an uproarious and feel-good comedy perfect for an entertaining evening (or matinee). Upon reading it, New York-based actress Cheryl Bear called it “a very funny ode to putting on a theatre production.” 

Performances open Wednesday, November 3, and run through Sunday, November 7. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the Lively Arts or purchased at the door. Students who would like to see the production at no cost may volunteer to usher.  

In The Inseparables, a fictional theater company, the North American Unified Theatre Collaborations of the West, really want to put on a show. Like, really bad. The actors have decided to stage a new adaptation of The Three Musketeers. Only, they aren't nearly as prepared as they should be. With puppets and pool noodles, this theater group prepares for their glorious comeback… that may not happen.

IUP Performing Arts CenterDirector Rick Kemp has really enjoyed getting back on stage and in person in the ensemble creation of The Inseparables. “I’m really impressed by the collaboration and professionalism of the entire ensemble—actors and production staff. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with such a creative and inventive playwright, and I look forward to our continuing association with TJ Young as a guest artist.”

“This is a play for everyone,” notes Brian Jones, producing director for Theater-by-the-Grove. “For me, it’s not as much a play about Alexandre Dumas’ famous novel The Three Musketeers. Rather, we are watching characters wrestle with how to put on The Three Musketeers, and gaining faith in themselves in the process.  It’s not something you have to be in the know to get; in fact, I hope half of the audience has never been to live theater before because this would be a fine introduction to it.

“The characters need one another. They need people that are different from themselves. They need people that they might have difficult relationships with.”

IUP’s theater company Theater-by-the-Grove is operated by the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance. It is a professionally modeled company providing practice and experience for theater majors and is open to participation by any IUP student.  It's All for One and One for All. Maya Catoe, Riley Guers, Jordan Drake and Bridget Doyle in rehearsal on set of "The Inseperables"

Actor Jacob Wilt is a social studies education major from Altoona. He plays Emerson, a very imaginative and energetic performer with a passion for puppets. “When I came here, I couldn’t imagine being able to continue acting after high school, much less be in a play or musical every year for four years!” said Wilt. “I look forward to being able to take what I’ve learned into public education, and maybe even direct a high school program.”  

Musical theater major Riley Guers is using the experience of the role of Jordan for his senior thesis project. “I didn’t realize how much I missed ‘blocking’ the action in real space until now,” remarked Guers about the return from video performance during the pandemic. “I’ve been focused on voice acting for a while, and I wanted to grow my performance movement skills under Kemp’s direction. The physical comedy in this play helped that to happen.”  

Stage Manager Cat Hebner recognizes managing this epic comedy prepares them well for their planned career teaching theater to young people in their home state of Kentucky. “I’ve certainly learned a lot of patience,” they noted, “and I’ve become much better at being in charge. I can separate when I need to be direct and proceed quickly through what needs to be done for the show, and when I can be a nice friend.”

Theater-by-the-Grove is thankful to be funded substantially by the IUP Student Co-operative Association. Students receive discounted ticket prices .

In the National New Play Network, actor Tyler Joseph Rossi proclaimed, “Young has given us a love letter to Dumas' source material and theatre itself with The Inseparables. There wasn't a moment in this script I wasn't engaged. The chaos—the glorious chaos of this woefully unprepared company of artists was a joy to read.”

It’s “All for one and one for all” at Theater-by-the-Grove.