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UNLV’s theater department opens its doors to ‘American Idiot’

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American Idiot, which played at the Smith Center in June, is headed to UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre.
Photo: Steve Marcus
Jacob Coakley

Brackley Frayer, chair of UNLV’s theater department at UNLV, doesn’t sound upset about the prospect of canceling his MFA-level theater design classes for a couple of weeks in October. It’s not every day that a hit Broadway musical like American Idiotdecides to use your theater to re-envision its staging, after all. Students probably wouldn’t have been able to hear each other anyway.

“In the rider they sent us, they said … when they get into rehearsal mode it’s an average of 100 decibels,” Frayer says.

And did the rider say anything about the small size of the Judy Bayley Theatre? “I was a little worried [watching the show this spring] in the Smith Center,” Frayer says. “[I asked myself,] how are we going to fit this in? But there were meetings, and they came over, and they said this is perfect.”

It should also work out well for the students, who will have three weeks (October 21-November 9) to work alongside the Broadway production team and crew—although it won’t be easy. “There’s going to be a lot of work,” Frayer says. “It’s going to be a huge learning experience for our students. A once-in-a-lifetime ordeal.”

To show their appreciation for the help UNLV will provide, the producers will donate proceeds from two benefit performances to the Nevada Conservatory Theatre. The shows, on November 8 at 7:30 p.m. and November 9 at 2 p.m., will give Las Vegas audiences the opportunity catch an up-close look at a new version of a hit Broadway show in an intimate environment before anyone else. Tickets cost $30 ($25 for students, seniors and military) and go on sale this Saturday at 10 a.m through pac.unlv.edu.

“We live in a great town with one of the best theater laboratories in the country,” Frayer says. “These things happen from time to time, and we try to take advantage of them.”

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