Year after year, participants have given the University of Nevada, Reno's annual London Theatre and Literary Arts Tour rave reviews. But, alas, after this year's program—now in its 31st season—they will bid the tour adieu.
Over the years hundreds of participants from northern Nevada have joined the tour to see thousands of stage performances featuring some of the world's most legendary actresses and actors, including Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi, Michael Crawford, Elaine Paige, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft and such American stars as Brendan Fraser, Patti LuPone, Jessica Lange and Holly Hunter.
From the original production of "Evita" in 1978, through "Cats," "Les Miserables," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Miss Saigon," to the outstanding musical from 2006, "Billy Elliot," participants have experienced contemporary musical theatre long before these works come to the United States. Tour participants have also seen notable dramas and comedies premiered in London prior to their Broadway openings, including "Noises Off," "Amadeus," "The Real Thing," "Lettuce and Lovage" and "Amy's View."
Led by two award-winning faculty members, Jim Bernardi, Ph.D., theatre professor and director of the University's Nevada Repertory Company, and Phil Boardman, Ph.D., professor of English and director of the University's core humanities program, the London tour provides optional academic credit in English or theatre studies to its participants. Lectures and discussion groups are also part of the program.
This year, participants will convene in London on Dec. 30, and disband in London, Jan. 13, 2008, after experiencing a host of productions and touring a number of historical and cultural sites in the region.
"We usually schedule plays that give participants a good picture of the London theatre scene, with productions at the subsidized Royal Shakespeare Company or Royal National Theatre, at a West End commercial theatre, and in a 'fringe' venue," said Phil Boardman. "We try, among these productions, to see a 'star turn,' something that is possible in London's vibrant West End, and we often see a hit musical, as in the recent 'Billy Elliot'."
The two tour leaders are actively encouraging anyone who has intended to sign up in the past but hasn't' to consider hopping on board this year's tour.
"I'd say, if you've put off joining this annual London adventure, this will be your last chance to immerse yourself in our view of the theatrical and literary marvels of Britain's historically and culturally rich capital city," Boardman said.
The tour fee is $3,295, which includes hotel accommodations in London, continental breakfasts, tuition for three optional undergraduate or graduate credits in English or Theatre, and admission to plays, museums and lectures. Participants are responsible for their own airfare, transportation, meals and other expenses. Early registration and deposit are required.