Musical ‘Violet’ Begins Tonight at Clarion University

Clarion University Play 'Violet'CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Clarion University’s theatre’s performance of the musical “Violet” opens at 8:00 p.m. on March 1 at the Marwick-Boyd Little Theatre and continues through Sunday, March 5.

“Violet” is an award-winning musical based on “The Ugliest Pilgrim,” a short story by Doris Betts.

Violet is a young woman who was struck by a wayward axe blade as a little girl when her father was chopping wood, leaving a scar across her face.

In 1964, she finally saved enough money to travel across the Deep South for the healing touch of a TV evangelist that will help make her beautiful.

Music and lyrics were written by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley, respectively.

The interracial storyline, along with music and character choices, helped inspire director and theatre professor Marilouise Michel to choose this piece.

“There are some meaty roles for our students of color, as well as some great music and acting opportunities for all of our students,” Michel said. “I think the university community will really enjoy the story of a young woman’s search for self-acceptance with the background of the still- segregated south of 1964.”

The cast stars junior Tori Heckert of York as Violet; sophomore Nathan Bunyon of Philadelphia as Flick; sophomore Justin Baumgarten from Philipsburg as Monty; freshman Lindsay Smelcer of Bensalem as Young Violet; senior Sam Atwell of St. Marys as Virgil and Billy Dean; freshman Tree Zuzzio of Camp Hill as the preacher and a bus driver; freshman Lexi Mazur as the waitress and a bus passenger; sophomore Zack Persijn as a bus driver and passenger; sophomore Shayla Barrett of Johnstown as Almeta and Lula Buffington; junior Alyssa Gephart of Pittsburgh as a music hall singer and bus passenger; junior Bobby Reiser of Langhorne as Leroy and a bus driver; sophomore Betsy Novotny of West Homestead as an old lady and a hotel hooker; and freshman Daniel LaMond of North Beach, Md., as Papa.

The production is part of Heckert’s graduation project for her BFA musical theatre major.

“The audience is asked to use their imagination to conjure up the bus, as well as the walls, doors, and even the title character’s disfiguring scar,” Michel said.

The students working behind the scenes to create the various settings are: freshman Ali Landers of Philadelphia on sound design; senior Cierra Southerton as properties designer; junior Thomas Feather of Windber as lighting designer; and senior Courtney Chaplin of McMurray as stage manager, who is using this production for her graduation project, as well. Professors Ed Powers and Myra Bullington are set and costume designers, respectively.

Becky Lopuh, an alumna of the music education program, is music director.

Tickets are available at

The cost is $12.00 for adults, $9.00 for ages 12 and younger, and free for Clarion University students with university ID.

Showtimes are 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.

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