Review: “Arabian Nights” brings color to SHSU theatre

“Arabian Nights,” a play inspired by the Arabian classic “One Thousand and One Nights,” is an epic adventure of laughter, love and life performed spectacularly by the Sam Houston State University department of theatre and musical theatre.

Catherine Stallard | The Houstonian

Catherine Stallard | The Houstonian


Written by Mary Zimmerman, the production tells the story of a young princess who has just married a murderous king who plans to kill her before the morning. In an attempt to buy herself time, she engages the king in many different colorful and interesting tales. Each night she purposely leaves him with a cliffhanger so that he will allow her to live for one more day.

SHSU students will thoroughly enjoy this show, as it is loaded with clever jokes, hilarious innuendos and even a few current pop culture references thrown in for extra laughs.

The cast of 16 actors works together as an outstanding ensemble performing song, dance and musical numbers with drums and bells, creating segues that move the play from one story to the next.

Every actor in the cast plays multiple characters throughout the show. Through different costume pieces and changes of voices and mannerisms, each character was easily distinguishable from the others and the cast effectively and impressively pulled off playing several different people, sometimes one right after the other.

SHSU lecturer of theatre and “Arabian Nights” director Kevin Crouch displays his abundant skills and versatility as a director as he covers several different art forms in one show. Crouch clearly succeeded in helping the cast create strong relationships with one another as so much of the play completely relies on teamwork and the actors building on each other.

Audiences can expect to laugh for the majority of the show. However, amidst all of the comedy, the play also presents some very important themes. The theme of love very much drives the show along with strong themes of family and moralistic lessons about virtues such as loyalty and humility.

The set was beautifully displayed with intricate pieces including flickering lights that suspend from the ceiling and designs projected onto the stage floor. The entire show was very pleasing to the eye using many different colors.

In between scenes, the actors would sit on the perimeters of the stage and watch the other scenes, which allowed the audience to feel as if they part of the show as well.

Lighting and music cues were seamless. Most of the set changes and transitions were done by the actors onstage, which added to the overall impressiveness of the production.

With strong performances from the entire cast and crew and a passionate and dedicated director, the SHSU department of theatre and musical theatre produced yet another fantastic show. This is a play that will appeal to a wide range of audiences and presents the perfect balance of humor and sentimentality.

Despite all shows currently being sold out, “Arabian Nights” will perform daily through Saturday at the University Theatre Center Showcase Theater.

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