'Major Barbara' to open April 18 at RU

Salvation Army worker Barbara Undershaft has a choice to make: deny her estranged father and the "bloody" money he makes from the arms industry or accept his fortune and use it to help the needy?

This is the moral gray area playwright George Bernard Shaw explored when he wrote the now-classic social comedy "Major Barbara," the next production from Radford University's Department of Theatre and Cinema. The show opens on Thursday, April 18, at the Pridemore Playhouse under the direction of RU Associate Professor Jennifer Juul.

Shaw's timeless characters, including the titular Barbara and her arms-dealer father, Andrew Undershaft, banter through the show about the morality of the arms trade. Despite his daughter's religious convictions and disdain for his product, Undershaft would like Barbara to embrace her position as the daughter of a millionaire. "It's basically an argument between religion and war profiteering," Juul said. "That's something people still fight about."

The play, first published in 1907, offers differing views of morality that will stimulate members of the audience to consider viewpoints other than their own, Juul said. "I'm really hoping it will make people think. Andrew Undershaft is not a likable guy, but he speaks the truth. I'm hoping people will be able to listen to both what Barbara has to say and to what Undershaft has to say and make up their own minds."

The play is considered one of Shaw's best works, Juul said, and offers students and faculty in the Department of Theatre and Cinema a chance to explore a theatre classic. Though the style and language of Shaw's writing can be a challenge for modern theatre students, productions like "Major Barbara" are an opportunity for young actors to challenge themselves.

Sarah Meade, a junior theatre major, leads the cast as Barbara. RU Associate Professor Wesley Young will portray arms baron Andrew Undershaft.

Performances of "Major Barbara" in the Pridemore Playhouse will be at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 18 through April 20, and on Sunday, April 21, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 for general admission, $5 for RU faculty and staff, $5 for seniors over 55, $5 a person for groups of more than 10, and free to students with an RU ID.

See dress rehearsal photos on Facebook.

Tickets go on sale one week before opening night at the Porterfield Box Office or by calling (540) 831-5289. The box office is open Mondays through Fridays, noon to 6 p.m., and one hour before each performance.

Learn more about Radford University at www.radford.edu.

'Major Barbara' rehearsal

Barbara quarrels with her fiancé, Adolph, after leaving the Salvation Army. Her mother, left, witnesses the spat.

Mar 26, 2013
Dan Waidelich
(540) 831-7749