UW-W Theatre & Dance Gives New Life to a Classic Musical: Pal Joey

Editor’s note: The following press release was received from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater Department of Theatre and Dance.

Set in the vibrant nightlife of 1940s Chicago, “Pal Joey” follows the captivating journey of Joey Evans, a charismatic yet flawed nightclub performer who is determined to make it big. 

With a dream in his heart and a knack for seduction, Joey embarks on a whirlwind adventure, navigating a treacherous web of romance, power struggles, and the pursuit of his own dreams.

Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Book by John O’Hara
Directed by Bruce Cohen

“Pal Joey” will be performed by UW-Whitewater’s Department of Theatre and Dance in the Barnett Theatre Feb. 23-25 and Feb. 29-March 2. Friday & Saturday, 2/23-24 @ 7:30 p.m., Sunday, 2/25 @ 2:00 p.m., Thursday & Friday, 2/29 – 3/1, 7:30 p.m., Saturday 3/2, 2:00 p.m.

“Pal Joey,” written in 1940, is one of many Rodgers and Hart musicals to run on Broadway. It tells the story of a young nightclub performer named Joey Evans with an ambitious dream of one day owning his own nightclub, and seemingly no limits to what he will do to achieve this desire. His large goals and manipulative tactics get suddenly entangled with lust and jealousy when he begins deceptively charming women and letting his selfishness blind him.

UW-Whitewater’s 2024 production encapsulates the show’s unique and complex character relationships and gives new life to a beloved 1940s classic.

This play contains themes and theatricalized depictions that some may find troubling. It is intended for adult audiences and mature sensibilities.

Sarah Keller from Whitewater, WI, a Music major, is one of many students involved in the outstanding production of “Pal Joey” at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Keller will play the role of Janet / Understudy Vera Simpson, as a part of the Cast.

“It has been a pleasure to work on the show,” said show director Bruce Cohen, an associate professor of theatre and dance. “It is the most dance-intensive musical that we’ve mounted in the seven years I’ve been here at UW-Whitewater. The students are having a blast.”

Cohen goes on to explain the careful thought that went into the selection process for a show of this nature.

“This show presents a higher degree of triple-threat – singing, dancing, and acting – performance skills than many contemporary shows. This is so important for our students to have experience with.”

Students involved in the show have expressed a strong sense of pride in their strongly-built community.

“I have found that this cast has a lot of theatre majors and non-theatre majors and through that experience, [it] makes the diversity of the cast and perspectives very eye-opening,” said Caitlyn Dickman, who plays the role of Linda English in the production. “Everyone has learned to grow together and become one as a family in bringing this story to life!”

Tickets are available in advance through Ticket Services.  Tickets are $19 for adults, $17 for age 65+, $13 for under age 18. There is a $2 per ticket surcharge when purchased at the door.

UW-Whitewater’s Department of Theatre/Dance produces five shows per academic year. For more information, visit uww.edu/theatre.

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