Summer Circle Theatre Announces New Artistic Director and FREE Shows for 62nd Season

The Michigan State University Department of Theatre’s 2024 Summer Circle Theatre (SCT) is preparing for its 62nd season offering FREE outdoor performances for all ages. Shows run June 6-23 at the courtyard between the Auditorium Building and Kresge Art Center on MSU’s campus. This season, Summer Circle will open three productions as well as pre- and post-show performances including music, dance, improv, and clown acts.  

Two actors on an outdoor theatre stage performing before a crowd of people.
The 2023 Summer Circle Theatre performance of School House Rock LIVE!

Alexis Black, Assistant Professor of Acting Movement in MSU’s Department of Theatre, has stepped into the role of SCT Interim Artistic Director this summer. As a Movement Professor, Black brings a fresh perspective to the theatre utilizing her background to promise a high energy and exciting season. 

“I am passionate about the storytelling we can do both with and without words,” said Black, who also is directing the final show of the season, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] [again].  

All three shows are free to attend and fun for the whole family. The SCT Courtyard is a tiered, amphitheater-style venue and patrons are encouraged to bring their own blanket, lawn chairs, and picnic for maximum comfort. Concessions will also be available for each performance. Parking is FREE and available in Lot 9, across the street from the courtyard. In the event of heavy rain, performances will be moved into the Auditorium Building. 

five actors on stage performing the play, "Clue" on an outdoor stage.
The 2022 Summer Circle Theatre performance of Play That Goes Wrong.

The following offers more information on each production. A full schedule including information about seating, showtimes, and parking also can be found on the Michigan State Department of Theatre website

Digging Up Dessa

  • Written by Laura Schellhardt 
  • Directed by Dionne O’Dell 
  • June 6, 7, 8 at 7 p.m. and June 9 at 4 p.m. 
  • For all ages, but please note that this production contains themes related to the death of a parent.  

Dessa is a 21st-century girl with no shortage of struggles, secrets, and mysteries to solve. From dinosaur bones to hidden memories, the world is filled with buried treasures just waiting to be uncovered. Luckily, thanks to the mysterious appearance of a remarkable friend — the pioneering 19th-century English paleontologist Mary Anning — young Dessa knows just how to excavate them.

After a field trip to a museum reveals that Mary Anning’s legacy has been buried by history because of her gender and lack of formal education, Dessa decides she’s going to fight to earn her friend the credit she deserves. With help from her once-rival, Nilo, Dessa sets to work unearthing the secrets hidden beneath the surface of the past and present — for Mary’s history and her own future.

Please Note: This production contains themes related to the death of a parent.  

[title of show] (clean version) 

  • Music & Lyrics by Jeff Bowen 
  • Book by Hunter Bell 
  • Directed by Adam Yankowy 
  • Music Directed by Dave Wendelberger 
  • June 13, 14, 15 at 7 p.m. and June 16 at 4 p.m. 
  • For all ages

Jeff and Hunter, two struggling writers, hear about a new musical theatre festival. However, the deadline for submissions is a mere three weeks away. With nothing to lose, the pair decides to try to create something new with the help of their friends Susan, Heidi, and Larry on the eighty-eights. With the cast in place, Jeff and Hunter begin a conversation about what to write about. In the span of 90 minutes, they write and perform their show at the festival and learn lessons about themselves as people, friends, and artists.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] [again] 

  • Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield 
  • Directed by Alexis Black 
  • June 20, 21, 22 at 7 p.m. and June 23 at 4 p.m. 
  • Recommended for ages 12 and up for mature humor

A cultural touchstone was born when three inspired, charismatic comics, having honed their pass-the-hat act at Renaissance fairs, premiered their preposterous masterwork at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987. It quickly became a worldwide phenomenon, earning the title of London’s longest-running comedy after a decade at the Criterion Theatre.

Featured are all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays, meant to be performed in 97 minutes, by three actors. Fast paced, witty, and physical, it’s full of laughter for Shakespeare lovers and haters alike. This latest “Revised Again” version includes changes that celebrate and encourage greater diversity and inclusivity in today’s theatre.

A woman wearing a fairy costume with bubbles floating around her.
The 2023 Summer Circle Theatre performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.