Missouri State University’s Theatre and Dance Department put on the world premiere of “In Vain.”  "In Vain" was written by Missouri State assistant professor Cristina Pippa and Broadway pianist Sharon Kenny, and was directed by Tony Award nominee Robert Westenberg and the department of theatre and dance's Artist-in-Residence Karen Sabo. 

Wilde’s original novel ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray,’ which is the source material for this show,” said Sabo. “Having a young person wish to remain forever young and the result is that a picture of them takes on the aging process instead, in both the novel and the musical. This bit of magic ruins the person.” 

“In Vain” was a satirical take on society’s obsession with beauty. The musical was meant to convey this message not just through the acting and dancing, but also with the makeup and costume design. Broadway pianist Sharon Kenny also contributed to the show with her composition. 

According to Sabo, all the hard work preparing paid off.

“The co-director (Robert Westenberg) and I were very pleased with the cast, which was full of our BFA musical theatre and acting students, and their talent and hard work was a great match for this cool show. The singing was great, and the songs and scenes were engaging,” said Sabo.

“In Vain” was the third musical put on during the Theatre and Dance Department’s spring 2023 season. “Spring Dance: Art in Motion” will be the last show put on by the department from May 4-7.

For more information about “In Vain” and future productions, visit

Follow Maddy Rice on Twitter, @MaddyRice14

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