Curious: What was the very first play produced by the Harper Theater Department?


The Harper College of Performing Arts Center stage is shown during the day with the set of the current production of “Sense and Sensibility” directed by Kevin Long. (Photo by Jonah Parra.)

According to Harper College’s Director of Theatre Laura Pulio -Colbert, Harper College has a long history of performance art.

“We have produced hundreds of plays and musicals at Harper since our first season in 1967-1968,” Pulio-Colbert said.

The first production was a play called The Acting Lesson directed by retired theater professor, John Muchmore.

It was not until almost a decade later in 1976 that Harper’s theatre department produced their first musical, Godspell, which was directed by retired theater professor Mary Jo Willis.

A plaque is displayed in the Harper College of Performing Arts Center honoring former professor Mary Jo Willis, who directed the first musical at Harper College. (Photo by Jonah Parra.)

Harper found musicals to be more profitable.

“Musicals are generally big sellers,” Pulio-Colbert noted. “Top box office gross belongs to Green Day’s American Idiot in the fall of 2019.” Pulio-Colbert directed the popular musical in Harper’s Performing Arts Center. 

Performance art continues to be a staple in Harper’s campus culture. Theatre classes are offered every semester. Students and nonstudents are welcome to participate in auditions for productions held year-round.