The Original Cast was founded in the fall of 1990 by Assistant Professor of Theatre Alan Nielsen, Adjunct Professor Juanita Finkenberg, and Theatre Graduate Student Rhonda Plymate Williams. The Department of Theatre produced a large number of musicals only every other year, and The Original Cast was intended to fulfill a need for those students who were interested in exploring musical theatre performances on a more regular basis. (Being cast in the group meant a year-long in good academic standing.) At the same time, The Original Cast was to serve as an outreach component for the Department of Theatre, performing for civic groups and other organizations throughout East Texas.
To that end, the group was originally intended to be a small improvisational cabaret troupe that would require little in the way of technical needs, and be prepared to perform for any venue, from a livingroom to an outdoor arena. By the end of the ‘90s, however, the demands on the group required more technical support. Thanks to a substantial donation from SFA President Dan Angel, a touring sound system with wireless mics was acquired, and the musical palette moved from live piano to MIDI-recorded original tracks. In addition to the annual spring Downstage revue on campus, special programs were prepared for the Rotarians, the DAR, the Daughters of the Texas Republic, the Nacogdoches Women’s Club, the Forestry Museum, the Texas Lyceum, a Summit on Regionalism, the Noon Lions Clubs, the city of Diboll, and Christmas in Crockett, among many others. In 1998, Dr. Nielsen wrote a holiday parody of Dickens which also incorporated local history and building of the college, titled “An East Texas Christmas Carol.” This proved so popular, it was restaged in 1999 for downtown Nine Flags Festival and kicked off a 12-year series of Christmas revues for the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.
For all its 21 years of existence, The Original Cast was directed by Dr. Nielsen, who also compiled the scripts, arranged the music, and recorded the MIDI accompaniments.
Author: Dr. Alan Nielsen, and is located on the back of all of the DVD cases.