Director hopes performances appeal to broader audience

Fans of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” will get a chance to see the television show's stars live when they visit Rolla next month.
The TV show's stars, Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Chip Esten and Jeff B. Davis, are part of a touring show called “Whose Live Anyway?” which features 90 minutes of improvised comedy and songs all based on audience suggestions.
The tour will stop at the Leach Theatre in Castleman Hall at 10th and Main streets on the campus of Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla for two performances Monday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Tickets are $35 for adults, $25 for youth and $10 for Missouri S&T students when they show their ID.
“Whose Live Anyway?” will kick off the Leach Theatre's Campus Performing Arts Series (CPAS), which usually features about seven to eight shows each year.
In addition to CPAS, the theater also will have two Leach special event shows and three shows in its family series this season.
Emily Brickler, who has been managing director for five years at the Leach Theatre, said “Whose Live Anyway?” was suggested since theater staff wanted to try something new.
“We never really did standup comedy in our CPAS, so we thought this would be kind of interesting,” Brickler said.
“Whose Live Anyway?” replaces “Cocktails with Larry Miller,” which has been cancelled.
Trying new things, like bringing in a standup comedy show, is one of the goals of the Leach Theatre.
“What we've started doing is taking an innovative approach to theater and making the arts accessible to everyone,” said Brickler, who will be with the theater for 10 years this October.
Brickler said when she joined the Leach Theatre, much of the CPAS shows featured only new artists or shows that not many people had heard of before.
Since then, one of the goals has been to appeal to a broader audience, which Brickler hopes to do with “Deer Camp the Musical,” a Leach special event show scheduled for Oct. 29, just in time for deer hunting season.
Another show geared toward a different type of audience, namely comic book or science fiction fans, is “The Intergalactic Nemesis” scheduled for Feb. 8, 2013.
And while the Leach Theatre has featured at least one jazz performance in the past, new this year will be a Creole-type jazz show called The Preservation Hall Jazz Band Creole Christmas set for Dec. 7.
The Leach Theatre also is collaborating with Dance St. Louis for a showing of “New Dance Horizons,” which will feature four performances by four different St. Louis ballet companies — Saint Louis Ballet, aTrek Dance Collective, MADCO and Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company.
Brickler said many ideas for shows that come to the Leach Theatre are from art conferences and are presented to a committee that usually decides.
Brickler also welcomes suggestions from patrons, as well.
“That's how we got David Cook (2008 'American Idol' winner) here a few years ago,” she said.
Brickler said such things as affordability and scheduling are considered when choosing acts, but she said she always looks into every suggestion that she is given.
Roy Jacobs, marketing representative with Leach Theatre, said the theater not only brings in Broadway touring shows, but sometimes they get them first before St. Louis
In addition to the types of shows, theater staff also have made some changes to their tickets and seating policies to encourage attendance.
One such way to see a show for little cost is the back row club, where seats in the back row of the theater are offered for $10 each one hour before a Leach Theatre sponsored show provided that the event is not sold out.
Because of the small theater, staff agreed that the back row is still “a great seat.”
This season, patrons also have more flexibility in season subscription offers and can take advantage of monthly payment plans.
The Leach Theatre is celebrating its 21st year for the 2012-13 season.
For more information or to buy tickets, call the Leach Theatre Box Office at 573-341-4219 for visit