The Mississippi Bend Players is a regional company that provides excellence in entertainment for the Quad Cities as well as educational opportunities for emerging theatre professionals.
The company debuted in conjunction with the opening of Augustana's multi-million-dollar Brunner Theatre Center in the summer of 2017.
Broadway veteran and Augustana alumnus Philip Wm. McKinley ’73 directed the season’s debut production Zombie Prom. The show was McKinley’s New York City off-Broadway directing debut in 1996, and it has garnered a cult following ever since.
Jeffrey L. Coussens, professor of Theatre Arts at Augustana, directed MBP’s second show, Frederick Knott’s classic thriller Wait Until Dark.
Dr. Corinne Johnson, theatre professor at St. Ambrose University, directed the third production, Neil Simon’s Tony-winning comedy Brighton Beach Memoirs.
The Mississippi Bend Players kicked off their second season with the seven-time Tony Award winning musical Big River: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Shelley Cooper, Augustana Assistant Professor of theatre Arts, directed the show.
Next up was Tennessee Williams' classic The Glass Menagerie, which in 1944 catapulted Williams to fame. It was directed by Dr. Corinne Johnson.
The summer season closed with an original work Beginner's Luck, directed by McKinley. The comedy was written by by P.J. Lasker, Emmy Award nominee and Golden Girls producer.
Mississippi Bend Players third summer season focused on the military through the years starting with Neil Simon’s Tony Award winning Biloxi Blues, directed by Cory Johnson.
Philip Wm. McKinley directed the second offering of the season, A Green River. The original work by local playwright Aaron Randolph III, allowed audiences to experience a troubled soldier's state of mind after he returns home to a world he no longer recognizes.
The summer was topped off with a song-and-dance comedy that both saluted and spoofed Hollywood musicals of the '30s. With book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller and music by Jim Wise, Dames at Sea was directed and choreographed by Augustana faculty member Shelley Cooper.
The 2019 season also had a bonus production. Augustana faculty member Dr. Jennifer Popple directed The Santaland Diaries. Based on essays by David Sedaris and adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello the story follows a reluctant Macy’s elf named Crumpet who was played by Augie alumnus, Keenan Odenkirk.
The regular 2020 season had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19, but not even a pandemic and a derecho wind storm could stop MBP from bringing patrons a unique theatre-going experience. For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday by Sarah Ruhl was originally scheduled to be directed by Dr. Jennifer Popple and Sarah’s mother Kathy, for whom the show was written, was to play the lead role. Thanks to the magic of Zoom, the show did go on virtually and was followed by a talk back session with Sarah Ruhl and the cast.