Quincy University Theater Program Looking for Second Act

This is a picture of the stained glass window at MacHugh Theatre

By Jessica Abrego

Francis Hall, the entrance to MacHugh Theater.

Sitting alone in the basement of Francis Hall sits a theater that used to thrive with live performances every year. Now, MacHugh Theater sits empty only to be used for guest speakers or student orientation days.

In April of 2019 the theater was brought back for life for only a short while. For the first time in years there was a theater performance opportunity offered to students at QU. QU finally decided to restart a drama club that had been inactive for years. Although the club had few members they were ready to take on trying to start a theater program back up.

With the help of the Square Peg Group-Troupe, of Quincy, Illinois, the drama club was able to put on a show. The group performed All in the Timing by David Ives.

By the 2019-2020 school year the theater once again has gone back to being an empty dark place that once used to thrive with life.

John Mahoney was a QU alumnus and made it to the television screen staring in the iconic NBC sitcom “Frasier.” Several other students who have graduated from Quincy University, and were active in the theater program, have stayed active in theater. Some of those alumni helped the QU Drama Club in the production of All in the Timing.

Several freshman asked QU if there was a theatre program on campus. Olivia Rauch is active in two choirs on campus and loves music.

“I think being in theater gives people confidence and adds elements of discipline because of the work put in. I think theater would thrive here because it adds a little bit of culture to our school, especially with it being a Liberal Arts school,” Rauch said.

Rauch is not the only one who misses being active in theater. Junior Grace Riley only gets to perform once a year in the children’s opera sponsored by Muddy River Opera Company.

“I was really hoping that when I got to the university I would be able to do musicals on a much higher level,” Riley said.

Amy Stollberg, director of Quincy University choirs, was the advisor for the Drama Club in the 2018-2019 school year.

“Right now I am responsible for the children’s opera. I am trying to keep performing interest alive through the children’s opera. The funding comes from Muddy River Opera Company, our local opera company. They are the granting organization so they write the grants to various organizations and provide the funds for the show. Absolutely no Quincy University funds are used for this children’s opera,” Stollberg said.

A minor in theater is listed in the 2019-2020 Academic Catalog. For the past couple years, QU has only offered Intro to Theater to fill a general education requirement course.

“I do not think the catalog has been updated since Connie Phillips retired. I have not known of a student who has wanted a theater minor,” Stollberg said.

Although Riley recalls a different take on the drama club and inquiring about a theater program. She wishes that she could have been part of the drama club.

“I do not think the staff promoted the drama club show we had last year very well. The drama club was not even promoted to the music department and the advisor is part of the music faculty. Although, I did ask about a theater minor, but was told there was not one,” Riley said.

Theatre courses were dropped from the Spring 2020 offerings because only one student signed up for one of the two courses offered. 

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