Bad Seed to premiere at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts

BY HOPE WILSON | JUNE 27, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa Summer Rep, a theater company of University of Iowa with both student and professional actors, will venture off the beaten path of classic theater productions to present Bad Seed this weekend.

“It’s a good, old story that continues to surprise people: How can such a sweet, seemingly ‘perfect’ 8-year-old get away with murder — literally — without anyone imagining she could?” said Bad Seed director Eric Forsythe, a UI theater professor.

The play, based on the novel The Bad Seed, by William March, takes place in the South in the 1950s. Rhoda Penmark, described by Forsythe as an 8-year-old “scheming ‘murderess,’ ” appears to have drowned her classmate because he won a penmanship medal she coveted. Despite her best attempts at denial, Rhoda’s mother, Christine Penmark, is forced to accept that her daughter may not be as perfect as she seems.

While the play’s dark themes are intended for an older audience, Forsythe believes the play also contains campiness and humor that will appeal to audiences.

“It’s a hoot,” he said. “[It’s] a piece that mixes light and chilling tones that everyone can enjoy.”

Rhoda Penmark will be played by Emily Hinkler, who began acting in productions at the UI in the fall of 2010. Bad Seed will be her Iowa Summer Rep début. She looks forward to bringing the audience along on a journey with the characters in the story, she said.

“[I want the audience] laughing hysterically at Monica’s fluttery personality, being shocked by Tasker’s murder stories, and charmed by Rhoda’s beautiful smile,” Hinkler said. “I hope all are left guessing what is to come next and are on the edges of their seats with suspense.”

Flooding has caused Iowa Summer Rep to condense the number of Bad Seed performances from 12 shows to four. Additionally, the production has been forced out of the Theater Building; it will be performed in the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 Fifth St.

Kristy Hartsgrove, who plays Christine Penmark, said the transition has been both a blessing and a curse.

“The sad part is that the Theater Building has taken another hit,” she said. “Happily enough, though, we are going to be at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, which is a gorgeous space.”

Despite the change in venue, Forsythe is excited. The cast is suited to create the piece, he said, and the performance will provide a great night at the theater.

“Adults might keep a special eye out at the next family picnic to see what their young charges are really up to,” he said.

What: Iowa Summer Rep presents Bad Seed
When: 8 p.m. today-Saturday
Where: Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 Fifth St.
Admission: Ticket prices range from $5 to $26, depending on seating. Tickets may be purchased at the Hancher Box office or online at http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu/tickets.

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