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The Shoestring Players at the University of South Carolina Upstate will perform Is He Dead?, a play by Mark Twain that has been adapted by David Ives, October 4-6 at 8:00 p.m. and on October 7 at 3:00 p.m.in the Humanities and Performing Arts Center Theatre.

Is He Dead? focuses on Jean-Francois Millet, a young painter of genius, who is in love with Marie Leroux, but in debt to a villainous picture-dealer, Bastien Andre. Andre forecloses on Millet, threatening debtor’s prison unless Marie marries him. Millet realizes that the only way he can pay his debts and keep Marie from marrying Andre is to die, as it is only dead painters who achieve fame and fortune. With the help of his friends, Millet fakes his death and prospers, while passing himself off as his own sister, the Widow Tillou. Now a rich “widow,” he must find a way to get out of a dress, return to life, and marry Marie. Combining elements of burlesque, farce, and social satire, the comedy relies on such devices as cross-dressing, mistaken identities, and romantic deceptions to tell its story, which raises questions about fame, greed, and the value of art.

The cast includes: Will Patterson as Agamemnon Buckner “Chicago,” Taylor Smith as Hans Von Bismarck “Dutchy,” Ashley McFadden as Marie Leroux, Anna Elyse Lewis as Cecile Leroux, Ryan Barry as Papa Leroux, Patric Phillips as Jean-François Millet, Robert Wendover as Bastien André, Julia Lejuene as Madame Bathilde, Joelle Gwinn as Madame Caron, Chris Smith as Phelim O’Shaughnessy, Chandler Crawford as Basil Thorpe, Juan Williamson as Claude Rivière, Townsend Reynolds as Charlie/Inspector Monnet, Juan Williamson as King of France, Jordyn Chelf as Emperor of Russia, and Andrea Azumendi as Sultan of Turkey.  Lee Neibert, assistant professor of theatre at USC Upstate, will direct the production.

Ticket prices are $4 for USC Upstate students and employees and $6 for general public. To purchase tickets, call the Performing Arts Center Box Office, Monday-Friday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at (864) 503-5695. For additional information, contact Michael Dickins, Performing Arts Center box office and art gallery manager, at (864) 503-5868 or mdickins@uscupstate.edu.

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