December 11, 2009

Reflections from the Cast of "As You Like It"

Read below for some insight into a few of the actor's experiences performing in Regent's recent production of As You Like It!

As You Like It was just that for me—as I liked it! The play takes place in the magical forest of Arden, a land of fun for actors and audience alike. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my thesis process. As an actor, any time you get a chance to work on Shakespeare, it is an honor and a challenge. You have to be true to the language, all the while telling the story to an audience that is not used to the heightened language. The world that Scott Hayes, our director, created proved to be a great vehicle to deliver this classic play to our audience. The set was a theatrical playground that we all could explore and create. Text messaging, ipods, and live camera work served as tools to tell the story. Being in As You Like it, being blest with the chance to speak this amazing language night in and night out, has been the highlight of my three years at Regent. To use the skills that I have acquired in my tenure here and to be able work with such a great cast has been an amazing experience.” –Rob Arbaugh, Orlando (3rd year MFA, thesis role)

“It was fun to be a part of such a technologically innovative production. For me, the process proved educational in regard to activating the potentially archaic text of Shakespeare, as well as exploring humor through action. Scott helped me explore positive choices for a character who could have potentially been frustrated throughout most of the show. The end result helped me actively pursue my scene objectives, and also, I think, proved more interesting to watch.” –Hannah Hughes, Celia (2nd year MFA student)

“My role as the fool, Touchstone, was a gift. Not only did I get crazy pants and the rich Shakespearian language to play with, but I also was allowed to discover the character's voice and physicality in a broad and zany style. In fact, thinking of how big, broad, and silly I got, I must say that my Touchstone went far further than I'd ever imagined he might when I first began researching the script and studying other performances. Yet, I feel that I found success - and a lot of joy, too - working in the boisterous freedom and expansive expression that Shakespeare affords.” -Ryan Clemens, Touchstone (3rd year MFA student)

“There are so many things that I was excited and initially nervous to approach once I found out that I was playing Rosalind. The first was the language- how to make it my own, honor it without being intimidated by it, and to see it as a gateway, not a stumbling block. Also, the physical and emotional exploration of Ganymede- Rosalind disguised as a boy- while still maintaining the awareness of Rosalind, was another aspect of the show that I started early on, walking around everywhere dressed and moving with that physicality, so that once I walked on stage I could, as Rosalind, believe it, and make Orlando believe it too. It was such a wonderful experience to be a part of, from concept to conclusion, and for my first Shakespeare show- it definitely allowed me to see that God does perform miracles in each of us- as well as hungering to perform more of the Bard of England!” -Stephanie Chandler, Rosalind (3rd year MFA student, thesis role)

November 30, 2009

Technology Meets Shakespeare in As You Like It

By Sarah H. Dolan
November 19, 2009

The oft-quoted phrase, "all the world's a stage," takes on new meaning in the Regent University Theatre Department production of Shakespeare's As You Like It, an interactive production experience through the use of 21st-century technology.

"The play is about transformation," explained Director Scott Hayes, professor in the School of Communication & the Arts. "Characters are forced to change their environments, put on false identities, and their ideas are transformed into noble actions. I hope our 'transforming' of the play into a contemporary setting makes clear the timeless nature of our message."

Helping carry the message are singers who interact with musical interludes from Guitar Hero and Windows Media Player (WMP) soundtracks. Blackberry messages are projected on the big screen for the audience to see. Actors are outfitted in modern-day apparel, such as camouflage, worldwide wrestling uniforms and looks that emulate i-Pod character icons. And most importantly, about 90 text messages are sent throughout each performance to audience members' (silent) cell phones.

Hayes was inspired to add these and other modern, interactive elements to Regent's production when listening to a radio station describing a church that text-messaged the congregation during the sermon. The texts were released at specified times, citing verse references, web-links and other related content.

"I saw the worth of this approach, particularly when producing a play that uses advanced vocabulary or that takes place in an unfamiliar time or location," Hayes said.

As You Like It sticks to Shakespeare's original dialogue to tell the story of court exiles and forest natives searching for love and meaning in the forest of Arden. And Regent's audience set-up is designed for members to receive a mixed message, Elizabethan-style. This means that the audience is split into two classes: "wired" (informed), members who receive text messages in the balcony, and "unwired"(uninformed), members who sit in the orchestra seating. The wired section receives text messages that act as footnotes to the script, including biblical, Greek and Roman references. The texts also identify allusions to celebrity and nobility as well as disguised insults and humor.

As a result, at times laughter can be heard throughout one section, while the other just doesn't quite get it, which is meant to work toward adding depth to the comedy. Other modern-day elements include a comprehensive use of technology, such as projected live video and Twitter.

In the end, the elaborate use of visuals and technology add to the humor of the well-loved comedy, which is punctuated by what Hayes describes as some of Shakespeare's "wittiest characters" of all time. Two MFA in Acting students perform their thesis roles in the production, Stephanie Chandler (Rosalind) and Robert Arbaugh (Orlando).

Regent's production of As You Like It has caught the attention of the Southeastern Theatre Conference, the largest and most active regional theatre organization in the country, which plans to follow up with Hayes on the results of the show later this spring.

For more information, visit

PR/NEWS CONTACT: Judy Baker, Public Relations 757.352.4307,

November 20, 2009

Facebook Fan page and Tweets for As You Like It!

Become a fan of Regent Theatre on facebook! Search pages for ‘Regent University Theatre.’

The theatre twitter feed ( is being copied to the fan page, so you can access the As You Like It tweets from there as well!

Tickets are going fast! Make sure you don't miss this production of Shakespeare's popular romantic comedy!

November 11, 2009

Shakespeare's As You Like It gets a technological makeover!

As you may have already heard, Regent Theatre is taking our upcoming production of Shakespeare's As You Like It into today's technology-saturated world. In fact, in our production, the audience members can follow along on their cell phone or laptop computer to get extra insight into what is happening during this popular Shakespearian romantic comedy. Check out these sites for more info or to follow along!

Here are Director Scott Hayes' Notes on the concept of the production and where it came from--Enjoy, and see you at the theatre!

"I love almost all things Shakespeare. I’ve been blessed to have been intimately attached to the productions of 25 of the 37 plays attributed to the Bard. I never tire of the immediate and vibrant effect Shakespeare’s words have on our contemporary audience when the words seem newly-coined by actors who embrace the process.

At the same time, I’m not particularly pleased when directors create “concept” productions with little regard to the playwright’s original intent. To thwart such work, we teach directing students the importance of analysis. From a director’s point of view, practical analysis is basically the process through which the director will uncover the meaning of the play while keeping in mind the original facts behind the creation of the play. Only after a director analyzes a play should he or she decide whether interpretation is necessary – and only if the audience watching the contemporary production is in some way fundamentally different from the original.

Our audience has much in common with the Elizabethans , yet in the last three decades we have moved farther apart than in the previous 350 years. New media have opened up massive avenues for information, allowing unfiltered access to the best and the worst of culture and scholarship. Our access devices continue to proliferate and each of us are in some way tied – perhaps kicking and screaming - to the infrastructure of the virtual world. Truth be told, our mature audience has more in common with the Elizabethans than our student population. Today’s undergraduate student doesn’t know a world without the personal computer, and the high school student has always known the Internet and cell phone. “Information access” has become the most influential paradigm of our culture. I believe the ready and unrestrained access to information fundamentally separates us from our sixteenth century ancestors.

I accepted the responsibility of directing As You Like It just before last Easter. A day or so later, I was listening to a radio station describing a large church that had decided to change cell phone policies. Instead of silencing the phones, the church incorporated the use of text messaging during the message. The church would send messages regarding verse references, web links, and related content at specified times. I immediately thought of the effect of this approach for the theatre – particularly when producing a play that may use an advanced vocabulary, be of an unusual genre, or may take place in an unfamiliar time or location. A theatre production, using text messages, could send “footnotes” directly to the viewer in real time. We saw the appeal for our younger audience, but were concerned for the audience who might not want or need the text message “footnote” – wouldn’t they be bothered by the intrusion?

A student director and I came up with the idea of separating our audience into the “wired” section – the balcony – and the “unwired” section – the orchestra - and that’s when the “interpretation” of As You Like It came to me. In essence, we would be recreating the world of the Elizabethan audience that was split into two classes. The “informed” Elizabethan audience for As You Like It would sit in the galleys (balconies) and understand all of the Biblical, Greek, and Roman references, identify the allusions to celebrities and nobility, laugh at the disguised insults meant for the French – yet the “uninformed” audience standing in the “pit” (the orchestra) could enjoy the story of the play without any of this information. We decided to take the concept of wired/unwired/informed/uniformed into the production design, borrowing concepts from the Elizabethan theatre and incorporating contemporary elements. Like the Globe, Swan, or Rose theatres, we use a two-level stage with few scenic elements delineating changes of location, and we set the play in the contemporary world, as Shakespeare did. We haven’t changed Elizabethan verse, language, or structure, but we incorporate today’s music, video, Twitter, and other 21st century communication tools. All plot elements remain unchanged, yet fit perfectly in our contemporary setting – commercial wrestling, political regimes being overthrown, etc. In addition, there are a series of hidden comments within the production design that may be lost to anyone over the age of 25. It is exciting to think a seasoned theatre-goer may have to ask a younger audience member to help explain these elements – for example, the melody’s significance when Amiens serenades Jacques!

Our interpretation and use of technology has been embraced by both the academic and professional theatre community. Our production concept has been selected for presentation at Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC), the largest academic theatre gathering in the United States. Two months ago, well into our production implementation, I was interested to hear of similar elements being incorporated at Virginia Stage Company’s production of Romeo and Juliet. For the record – neither production knew of the plans of the other, and the use of technology is quite different. Romeo and Juliet used more 21st century storytelling elements (webcams, Facebook updates, etc.) and we use our 21st century elements primarily to interact with our audience, and I hope some members of our audience were able to see both productions.

My prayer with this production is no different from any other director. I pray our interpretation allows you to experience Shakespeare as if for the first time, enhancing without distracting from your experience. For some of our audience, this may in fact be the first time you’ve attended a play by William Shakespeare – and it is a deep honor and privilege to share what I love with you. May this be the beginning of a life-long relationship!"

November 6, 2009

Reflections from the Cast of "Dancing at Lughnasa"

“Brian Friel’s work is so captivating in that it has multiple themes going on—religion vs. paganism, memory and identity, use of language, etc—and not exactly any clear-cut answers. This role was a challenging one for me, and I learned so much about my technique by playing a character with so much more life experience than I have. With Marianne’s awesome, freedom-giving guidance, by the end of the process, I had found such deep, personal connection with aspects of Kate that it was both extremely fun and extremely difficult to go onstage every night opening myself up to the emotional rollercoaster it would end up being and letting things hit those raw nerves. One night before the show, I remember the thought kept popping into my brain: ‘I get to help tell this story. I get to help tell this story.” It wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about my performance, my work, technique, etc. etc. It was about the story. This work is admittedly Friel’s most autobiographical, and I felt honored to portray one of ‘those five brave Glenties women’ who were Friel’s aunts and pay tribute to their lives.” –Katie Fridsma, 3rd year MFA student (Kate Mundy, thesis role).

“It was an honor to be involved in such a fantastic show and I feel so blessed to have started my work here at Regent with this show. I had worked with Marianne previously during my undergrad at Vanguard University and it was so wonderful to get a chance to work with her again. She really stretched my understanding of the role beyond just playing the part of narrator. Michael was just as much a character in this show, being changed and molded throughout, as any of the others. Exploring Michael's emotions during the show really only whetted my appetite as I feel I could have gone so much further it had the run had been longer. I'm so glad I got to see every second of this show over and over again. I learned so much watching the four thesis actors and I can't wait to do a role where I get to talk face to face with someone!” –Jeff Fazakerley, 1st year MFA student (Michael)

“There are fun moments in theatre, some great moments, as well as some inspiring ones. Lughnasa for me, was a fiery exaltation of everything that I have ever hoped to be as an actor; sharing moments of pain and joy onstage. Every night, exhausted beyond reason, I thanked God for His connection between my talents as an actor to offer up Maggie's story to the Regent community at large. I couldn't ask for anything more than playing Maggie Mundy. I will truly miss her and my Mundy sisters. ‘Yeawww!’” –Anna Koehler, 3rd year MFA student (Maggie, thesis role).

“From the moment I auditioned, I fell in love with both Jack’s initial vulnerability and his tenacious grace. Indeed, Marianne Savell, our director, encouraged me immensely when she suddenly exclaimed during our initial one-on-one meeting, ‘I mean, you really are Father Jack!' My reflection would be incomplete without a comment on the privilege it was to play opposite the rest of a very talented cast. Having worked professionally for many years prior to coming here, I am pleased to proclaim that my fellow MFA castmates are all ready to compete at the professional level, regardless of where they are in the program. I am especially excited to watch the 'thesis role' girls take the plunge upon graduation this summer and know that God has good in store for each of them. To all who danced along with us… words are no longer necessary.” –Mike Salsbury, 1st year MFA student (Father Jack)

“Being my first show at Regent, Lughnasa was a challenge as well as a rewarding experience. One of the ways it was challenging was having to speak in a British dialect when all the other characters spoke with an Irish dialect. It was incredibly hard to speak in an accent different from all the other cast members. I listened to people speaking the dialect nonstop, watched Mary Poppins with my children and An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest with my wife. Finally, even though my girls (Mia and Bella, twins age 3) looked at me funny, I spoke in the dialect almost all the time at home. One of the ways Lughnasa was a rewarding experience was that I had the privilege to play opposite Katie Cheely, who played Chrissie—Gerry's love interest. Katie was spontaneous, flexible, and downright fun onstage. Through being onstage with Katie, I learned by her example how to truly listen to the other person in the scene and respond accordingly through the text. With its challenges and rewards, I was honored to be a part of the cast of Dancing at Lughnasa and thoroughly enjoyed the direction of Marianne Savell.” –Nathanael Fisher, 1st year MFA student (Gerry Evans)

October 27, 2009

Regent News: Dancing at Lughnasa

Dancing at Lughnasa Brings Music to Life
By Sarah H. Dolan

Restraint marks the beginning of the Mundy sisters' dance—a tap of the foot, nod of the head and light pat on a cooking pot. But as the Regent University Department of Theatre production of Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa unfolds, the sisters let their hair down as their life's dance literally lets loose into chaotic stomps, howls and leaps of unrestraint.

"One of the themes in the play is that music and dancing transcend language," said special guest Director Marianne Savell, adjunct professor at Vanguard University. "And of course the irony is that theatre is truly language-based and yet Friel is always working toward the transcendent."

Dancing at Lughnasa is the story of five unmarried Mundy sisters, eking out their lives in a small Irish village in 1936. Their sparse existence is interrupted by brief, colorful bursts of music from the radio, their only link to the romance and hope of the world at large. The play is narrated by one of the sisters' son as he remembers the women who raised him.

"The Regent actor playing Michael (the son) is a young man that I directed during his undergraduate studies in California," Savell said. "The Regent actresses who play the sisters in the production are quite like sisters off-stage too—which really enriches the play."

The role of Michael is played by Jeff Fazakerley, a first-year MFA in Acting student. Four out of the five Mundy sisters are performed as thesis roles by third-year MFA students: Katie Cheely (Christina), Anna Koehler (Maggie), Alaska Reece Vance (Rose) and Katie Fridsma (Kate). The fifth sister (Agnes) is played by second-year MFA student Tabitha Ray.

Throughout the production the sisters struggle to make ends meet and understand their roles in the society in which they live in. As a result, they face battles of image: propriety versus freedom, and ordinary duty versus the more exciting world of the spontaneous. Meanwhile, the radio, which works intermittently, manages to put their conflicting feelings to music.

"The play also deals very strongly with the idea of 'religion' taking over a pagan society," said Savell. "And one of the characters in the play is a priest who in his 25 years of working with lepers in Africa has lost his religion. His character brings up a lot of questions." The priest is portrayed by first-year MFA student Mike Salsbury.

In Regent's adaptation of the play, Savell directs the characters' interactions with one another to show, rather than tell, time-sequences; the narrator's memory and its relation to present and past. "I think the audience will be delighted with the play...lights, sound, costumes, set and props are all quite wonderful and have a bit of magic to them," she said.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

PR/NEWS CONTACT: Judy Baker, Public Relations. Phone: 757.352.4307 Fax: 757.352.4888 E-mail:

October 26, 2009

Regent Welcomes Guest Director for Dancing at Lughnasa

At Regent Theatre, we get a lot of opportunities to work with accomplished guest artists. The cast of Regent's current production, Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa, had the chance to work with guest director Marianne Savell for 6 weeks. During her time here, Marianne also taught several workshops and took time to share her insight and experience with our students.

Check out Marianne's bio and come see Dancing at Lughnasa, which opened this past weekend and plays this upcoming weekend!

Regent Theatre welcomes Marianne Savell, guest director of Dancing at Lughnasa. Marianne is an accomplished actor, director and teacher coming to us from Los Angeles, where she is an adjunct professor at Vanguard University and a member of Directors Lab West. She received her MFA in Acting from the University of Illinois where she graduated with highest honors and was a guest artist at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She is on the advisory board of Provision Theater Company in Chicago and was invited to the prestigious New Harmony Project to direct Margaret Hunt’s new play And the Ravens Feed Us in 2008. Marianne’s professional directing credits include the critically acclaimed Jeff award-nominated Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Victory Gardens, Chicago), the world premiere and LA Weekly award-winner Gulf View Drive, Angel Street, Translations, the West Coast premiere of As It Is in Heaven, The Crucible, Hamlet, God & Shakespeare and Molly Sweeney. At Vanguard, Marianne directed the American College Theatre Festival finalists The Lion in Winter and As It Is in Heaven as well as Saint Joan, America’s Broadway and Three Sisters. Her professional acting credits include A Streetcar Named Desire (ACTC), The Seagull (LA Weekly award for Best Featured Actress), As You Like It, The Voice of the Prairie, The Hasty Heart, All My Sons, Uncle Vanya, Twelfth Night, Bullshot Crummond and Henry V.
Marianne has a few new plays in development and is conducting research in the Virginia Beach area for her new play on generals Lee and Grant, in partnership with Taproot Theatre Company in Seattle, where she is an associate artist. We came to know about Marianne when she directed one of our own MFA in Acting alumni, Dan Roberts (’07) in The Crucible at Actors Co-op, a professional Christian theatre company in Los Angeles. We’re glad to have her here!

October 6, 2009

Reflections from "The Boys"

If you saw our recent production of The Boys Next Door, you saw the endearing humor and humanity the cast brought to their characters. Here are some reflections from some of the actors about their experience finding their way through Tom Griffin's touching work.

“Becoming Arnold was a great challenge and a great honor as well. I made a lot of discoveries watching documentaries, talking with psychiatrists, and hanging out with ‘special needs’ folks. Yet the most brilliant revelation I made, speaking both as an actor and a person, was how I didn't need to adopt an outside understanding to play this ‘special’ role. You see, I've been Arnold; Arnold is me. He's the me who gets too loud when he doesn't get his way with the TV. He was the me who packed a picnic basket and ran away to live in the band shell in the park. He was the me who didn't know how to talk to girls, how to dress cool, how to figure out fractions, how to stand up to a bully, or how to look someone in the eye when they laugh and say, ‘You spent all that money to be an ACTOR?’ What I want to say is, I'm special. We're all ‘special.’ This experience has shown me that we are better served to look inside ourselves and discover the many things we share with the mentally disabled of our society, rather than define that group by their differences.” -Ryan Clemens, third-year MFA Actor (Arnold Wiggins, thesis role)

“Being one of ‘the boys’ was truly one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. Mark Paladini, our director, told us from the beginning that he trusted us. Throughout the rehearsal process he would just let us explore and try different things. He was always open to ideas and would often ask, ‘What would you like to do here?’ We would tell him and his response would inevitably be, ‘Great! Let’s see it.’ Sometimes our ideas worked and sometimes they didn’t. And if they didn’t Mark was always there with another idea to make the moment work. I can remember during one rehearsal Mark told Ryan to come up with a funnier tick. The one Ryan had been using just wasn’t funny enough. Mark said, ‘I don’t know what it looks like, but I know there is a funnier one you can do.’ So, for the next 10 or so minutes Ryan tried every different tick he could think of until he did one that was so funny I couldn’t even look at him. ‘That’s it,’ I whimpered as tears of laughter ran down my cheeks, ‘That’s the one.’ It was this kind of collaborative effort that made The Boys Next Door the success it was.” –Chad Rasor, third-year MFA Actor (Norman Bulansky, thesis role)

“For me, part of fun in The Boys Next Door is getting to be one of ‘the boys’ with three of my cohort classmates. When there’s already a meaningful relationship, whatever connection we’ve found seems to build on something tangible. I also appreciate Mark for his artistic sensibility – how he guides us to find our moments (both comic and tragic), yet maintaining the humanity of these characters. Through the process we laugh, cry, get angry, excited and paranoid… but in the end we find ourselves embracing these characters as we embrace each another and ourselves.” –Shinn-Rong Chung, third-year MFA Actor (Lucien P. Smith)

“For me the key to a truthful portrayal of 'Barry' or any of 'the boys' relies upon finding those things in ones own life that relate to what the character is going through. I do not have schizophrenia, but I do remember several years of my childhood I spent fully invested into an imaginary world--I was a baseball player. I have a good relationship with my father, but I know what it is like to want my father to be proud of me. I like to think I have a good sense of humor, and am a patient person, but I know what it's like to be so frustrated when some one doesn't understand that my patience and sense of humor goes out the window. I said all that to say all of humanity is in each one of us. We are not so far from the socially, mentally, and psychologically disadvantaged as we think we are. Hopefully this play provided some insight into that world, and helped us recognize the need for unconditional love, understanding, and the humane treatment of all. Being in The Boys Next Door was an experience of a lifetime! Mark, the director, truly embraced the idea of letting the actors play. The result of that 'playing' was a collaborative finished product that was satisfying, fun, emotional, and educational for the actors, and audience alike.” –Matthew Winning, 3rd year MFA (Barry Klemper, thesis role)

September 18, 2009

Want to know about Regent students' summer work?

You've read about Anna Koehler's apprenticeship at Berkshire Theatre Festival--Here's a sampling of what some of our other grad students did this past summer!

3rd year MFA in Acting students Rob Arbaugh, Katie Cheely, Katie Fridsma (founders of UnCovered Theatre Company) and Alaska Reece Vance (Artistic Director of The Drifting Theatre Co) were joined by Chad Rasor (3rd year MFA) and Rachel Arbaugh (senior BA) for a 7 state summer tour. In schools, churches, parks, and theatres from Chicago to Chattanooga, they performed 2 shows—Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and a contemporary, musical version of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, adapted by Katie Fridsma—and taught many workshops all along the way. At the end of their tour, they conducted a full-length Summer Acting Training Camp with The Drifting Theatre in TN, culminating in a production of Disney’s Mulan Jr.

Stephanie Chandler (3rd year MFA) joined film professionals this summer as an intern at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival through the Creative Minds in Cannes Program. During this internship, she participated in the Filmmaker's Workshop and was able to perform in two short films, one of which was the winning entry in the CMIC Student Film showcase. While there, she networked with many industry professionals, attended several pitching sessions and workshops, and even got to walk the red carpet all dressed up! She also was able to catch some great Shakespearian theatre in London on her days off.

Kaja Dunn (3rd year MFA) spent her summer assistant-directing and dialect-coaching at the award-winning La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego. She worked with artists from 4 different theatre companies as well as a new playwright from New York. She also began to work on potential future theatre projects with The Chisomo Idea—a non-profit Christian organization committed to addressing issues of poverty in Africa and providing them with a framework for action.

Sean Cowan (2nd year MFA) produced 5 shows with his improv company, Portland Improv Group (P.I.G.), in Portland, OR, including USS Improvise, an improvisational lost episode of the original Star Trek, and Facebook: The Musical, an hour long completely improvised musical comedy. He also helped produce a sketch comedy show which included the work of Derek Leonidoff (Second City), Anna Koehler (3rd year MFA), Ryan Clemens (3rd yesr MFA), and Tabitha Ray (2nd Year MFA).

Andy Geffken, Hannah Hughes ,Tabitha Ray, and Nathan Schmidt, (2nd year MFAs) together with ’09 MFA graduate Jayson Akridge put together a five-person adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The show was directed by our own Shakespeare professor, Scott Hayes.

Regent’s 2009 Summer Theatre C.A.M.P.s provided valuable directing and teaching experiences for several of our graduate students. Ryan Clemens (3rd year MFA) directed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Jr. and Hannah Hughes (2nd year MFA) served as the music teach/director for both Willy Wonka Jr. and Oklahoma!, joined by Nathan Schmidt (2nd year MFA) on piano. Andy Geffken (2nd year MFA) taught acting and stage combat, Brad Archer (3rd year MFA) and Courtney Conger (2nd year MA) stage-managed, and Chad Gilliland (2nd year MFA) helped with set construction and headed up props.

Sharon Eyster (2nd year MFA) was the Assistant to the Artistic Director at The Montgomery Theatre, a professional repertory theatre in Prince Edward Island, Canada. She also was the Administrative Assistant for the PEI Conservatory, a competitive two-week training program in Acting and Directing for Student and Professional Performing Artists from all over Canada.

Jeff Fazakerley (1st year MFA), together with Vanguard University Alumni, produced and performed in Heart and Music, a benefit show for Alethia Christian Theatre, an up-and-coming children's theatre company in Orange County, California. The goal of the benefit was to raise money to give the children the chance to continue performing and allow the theatre to rent quality facilities.

Mike Salsbury (1st year MFA) could be seen this last summer in the musical The Miracle at The Miracle Theater in Pigeon Forge, TN, playing Nicodemus. He has been in the show for the last two and a half years, and Regent’s own MFA alumnus Justin Glinn (‘08) was selected to play role of Nicodemus when Mike left to come to Regent.

September 15, 2009

MFA Student Shares her Summer Experience at Berkshire Theatre Festival

Anna Koehler, third-year MFA in Acting student, spent this past summer in the Apprentice Program at the acclaimed Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, MA. Read on as she shares her thoughts about her experience!

'My Summer in the Berkshires

I didn’t think it was possible. There were so many factors that had to come into place for me to apprentice with the Berkshire Theatre Festival this past summer. “Well, I am just going to pray for you, darling,” Eleanor, our Comm school admissions counselor said to me right after I heard I was accepted. Getting the money together was going to be difficult. However, God provided the money not only through generous individual donors but also through a scholarship that BTF awarded me. As things fell into place, I found myself driving ten hours up the east coast thinking, “I really have no idea what to expect.” What I got was, well, a reality check, a spiritual check, and a theatre check.

I spent most of my days training in the Suzuki Method, which trains the actor’s body to undergo intense physical demands so that in the end a freer voice can be heard. In the photo below, I am performing a standing statue. We would stay like that for several minutes and then recite Shakespeare. “Breathe down,” our instructor would say. Through the discipline of this beautiful Asian art, I discovered a new way of accessing emotion and overcoming pitfalls as an actor.

Besides three hours of Suzuki training six days a week, I was cast in Bernstein's Candide as part of Berkshire Theatre Festival’s 81st season. My cast and I performed 47 shows and got some great reviews. I ended up performing the role I understudied for on the very last day of the show. “We need you to go on as the Baroness!” our stage manger screamed to me as she was running out into the parking lot to meet me. I also helped out with a stage reading of House of Bernarda Alba, took improv classes, and rubbed shoulders with Broadway’s finest actors .

But all this training was nothing if I hadn’t remembered some of the things I learned at Regent. Knowing that “to whom much is given much is to be expected.” And since I knew God brought me to BTF, I knew much would be expected. That is why parking cars, selling concessions, and doing all night changeovers after performing two shows, I really couldn’t complain. I was working in a place I loved. My family at Regent has furthered my belief that in the end it is ultimately Christ that I work for. Yes, this summer had its challenges but I learned that if you don’t have passion for Christ and having that passion living through your craft….well it will be a long day! “They call this place the Tuscany of America,” Colin Lane, a Broadway actor, said to me in his master class at BTF. And that is exactly where I was this summer. Performing and seeing some amazing theatre… in the Tuscany of America.

It’s amazing what theatre can teach you and what you can realize as a Christian artist being a part of theatre. I don’t think I will ever forget the old man with the cane in the front row weeping at hearing our final song, “Make Our Garden Grow.” His eyes were filled with sincere joy while the rest of him seemed to be living in pain. And on one of my final nights in the Berkshires, I saw for the first time an absolute stunning play performed at Shakespeare and Co, A Dreamer Examines His Pillow by John Patrick Shanley. The final words of the play reverberated in my heart mainly because until this past summer, I have had no clue on what’s next in my life as a hopeful actress. As the play is ending, the father takes his daughter, Donna’s hand and lifts it up, he then looks to the audience and says, “Begin, begin, begin.” Amen.'
More MFA student's summer experiences to follow!

September 10, 2009

From the Director of The Boys Next Door

Regent Theatre's production of The Boys Next Door, by Tom Griffin, opens next Friday, September 18th. Don't miss your chance to see this endearing comedy about 4 mentally-challenged men living together in a group home and their burnt out caretaker. Third-year MFA students Matthew Winning, Ryan Clemens, and Chad Rasor perform their thesis roles in this production, directed by Artist-in-Residence Mark Paladini. Check out his Director's Notes and a couple of the design and production photos!

"During this rehearsal process, several people have come up to me in the hallway and told me that The Boys Next Door is their favorite play. I had never seen the show, so I couldn’t fully comprehend their devotion until I began seeing the play come to life in rehearsal. What a joy it has been! I feel as though I’m part of this family of four mentally challenged grown men and their vocationally challenged caretaker. As I experience the play with this wonderful cast, I alternately see myself as one of “the boys” and then as their caretaker—to the point where I’m sure that every moment of this play is about me. It is, in fact, about us.

Moving on to a different aspect of the production, you might notice a nautical theme taking you from one scene to the next. It evolved from images I saw as I read the play for the first time. I kept imagining fish scurrying around a fishbowl, viewing the world through their unique lens while protecting their tiny plots of sand. As I reread the script many times, the image of the aquatic world kept returning with Jack, the caretaker, taking on the role of a holy diver, slowly running out of air. The more I read the script, the more the image grew and took on a life of its own. I can’t tell you how gratifying it has been to have my design team jump onboard and support this vision while honoring the reality of the world in which we live.

Finally, I’d like to briefly address the concept of a comedy about mentally challenged characters. Congratulations for not allowing the play’s description to keep you away from the theatre. I also appreciate the fact that our mild parental advisory did not scare you away. Tom Griffin has written this play with such love and compassion for the mentally challenged. By the end, I hope you will understand why this is now one of my favorite comedies. Laugh and enjoy. This is our life."
Also introducing..... First and Second Fridays! This season, we'd like to get to know our patrons better. Following the First Friday performance of every show, patrons are invited to meet the actors in the lobby. Following the Second Friday performance of every show, patrons are invited to a Talk-Back with the company. We hope to see you there!

September 8, 2009

Regent Alum in The Chicago Tribune

As seen in our last post, our graduates are doing some great work out there and building a name for themselves. 2008 MFA in Acting graduate Michael Woods was favorably mentioned (again!) in the Chicago Tribune. Click here to read the review!

September 3, 2009

Regent Grad's Original Show Seen Off-Broadway This Summer!

Remember our post last semester about our lab shows? Well, one of those lab shows produced here at Regent, The Confessional, written, directed, and starring our own Jayson Akridge (MFA Acting grad '09) was accepted to the New York Fringe Festival last May. Together with fellow Regent MFA '09 graduates Kelly Levander, Kevin Stidham, and Ashley Larsen, Jayson performed The Confessional in NYC last week to rave reviews. Check out this article and the links to the review and the show's website!

Theatre Alumni Join Together, Perform Off-Broadway
By Sarah H. Dolan, Regent PR
August 25, 2009

Four Regent University MFA in Acting alumni are currently performing in a critically-acclaimed production, The Confessional, as part of the NYC Fringe Festival—the largest performance arts festival in North America. Performances of The Confessional during the Fringe Festival are scheduled for Thursday, August 27 (9:00 p.m.), Friday, August 28 (2:15 p.m.), Saturday, August 29 (7:00 p.m.) and Sunday August 30 (2:00 p.m.).

Classmates often go their separate ways when graduation day ends. After the tassels are turned, caps are thrown and well-wishing words are spoken, the average student leaves the community to focus on career. But for these four Regent alumni, graduating meant integrating an aspect of Regent community with career. The alumni—Jayson Akridge, Kevin Stidham, Kelly Levandar and Ashley Larson—joined forces to perform together as part of The Cohort Theatre Company, sponsored by Regent. The company quickly caught the attention of representatives of The New York Fringe Festival, who selected their original play, The Confessional written by Akridge, to be performed off-Broadway. "Their play was chosen from among thousands submitted worldwide," said Michael Patrick, dean of Regent's School of Communication & the Arts. "This weekend they opened off-Broadway for the two-week run. This is a wonderful professional confirmation of talent and faith, and it reflects positively on Regent University's theatre program." The Confessional is a hard-edged detective murder-mystery, which takes place entirely in a police station. The plot addresses the redemptive question: how far good should or would go to stop pure evil, without becoming evil itself. The production debuted on August 23, and received a favorable review from "In the hands of the wrong cast, this kind of thrill ride could have been either confusing or overblown...but an expert cast [is guided] through the twists, and we cheerfully follow along" wrote Kimberly Wadsworth of in her review of The Confessional. "At one point, one of the plot twists made me scribble [in my notes] a disappointed 'no, you didn't make that be the answer, did you?' But five minutes later, I wrote ', sorry, it's not, never mind.' Eventually my notes get even more inarticulate—awestruck one-word entries like 'whoa!' and 'huh?' and 'wait'...and '!?!'" In addition to being the playwright of The Confessional, Akridge is also the co-director and plays Bill Bryce, the detective. Current Regent theatre student Alexis Hill serves as the stage manager. Each member of The Cohort Theatre Company holds a leading role in the production. For more information, locations and to purchase tickets, visit For the full review, click here.

April 23, 2009

Regent University Theatre Presents Singin' in the Rain!

The Regent University Theatre Department will close its 2008-09 season with the musical, Singin' in the Rain, based on the MGM film.

The show opens Friday, April 24, in the Communications & Performing Arts Center Main Theater. The tumultuous transition from silent movies to "talkies" comes alive in this musical stage adaptation of one of America's most celebrated films.

Performances take place at 8 p.m. on April 24, 25 and May 1 and 2, and at 3 p.m. on April 26 and May 3. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and children 5-18, $9 for Regent employees and $7 for Regent students. To purchase tickets or obtain more information, contact the Regent University Box Office online at or by phone at 757.352.4245. Box office hours are 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

by Judy Baker, Public Relations

Singin in the Rain was also featured in the Virginia Pilot this week! Check out the article that explains the process of making it rain onstage:

April 17, 2009

The Regent University Theatre Department Announces

New York Showcase
featuring the Graduating MFA in Acting Class of 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM
Producers’ Club Theatre, Grand Theatre,
358 W. 44th Street, New York, NY 10036.
RSVP: Mark Paladini csa (818) 613-3982 or

The Showcase, featuring songs, monologues, and scenes from the graduating class of MFA actors, will also be performed at Regent on May 8th, 2009, joining with the Regent V.I.P.s (Varsity Improv Players) for a benefit performance. The show will be held in Regent’s Studio Theatre at 8pm.

Come support our graduating MFAs as they take the next steps toward continuing their career!

Student News

Kelly Levander, graduating this May with her MFA in Acting, was recently offered a job by Theater of the American South in Wilson, North Carolina. Most of the actors and actresses employed by the theater are professionals based in New York City. Kelly will be playing the role of Elaine Rutledge in The Miss Firecracker Contest by Beth Henley.

“THEATER OF THE AMERICAN SOUTH presents top-quality plays featuring professional directors, actors, and designers... It is a celebration of the culture of the South that spotlights fine Southern plays... All performances are in the Boykin Cultural Center, a showpiece vaudeville theater built in 1919 and beautifully restored in the 1990s.” Read more at

Brandy Caldwell, also a 3rd year MFA student, was offered an equity contract by Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, MA, where she interned last summer. Upon graduating from Regent, she will play the role of Clara Immerwahr in The Einstein Project at BTF this summer.

“Founded in 1928, Berkshire Theatre Festival is one of the oldest professional regional theatres in the United States and the longest-running cultural organization in the Berkshires. Now under the helm of Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, BTF presents theatre that matters—world premieres, contemporary works, and classics that speak to who we are in our world today.” Read more at

Congratulations to Brandy and Kelly!

April 16, 2009

Announcing the 2009-2010 Regent Theatre Season!

We have an incredibly rich and diverse line up of shows for next year:

The Boys Next Door, by Tom Griffin
Take an endearing look at the lives of four mentally challenged men striving to function in the mainstream world. A hilarious comedy the New York Daily News declares “hits squarely on the truth of life with its constant interplays and shadings of triumphs and tears.” Shows: September 18-20 and 24-27.

Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel
The five maiden Mundy sisters escape their provincial existence on the plains of Ireland through colorful bursts of music from their radio, their only link to the romance of the world at large. The Tony Award-winning play the New York Post heralds as “simply wondrous.” Shows: October 23-25 and 29-Nov 1.

As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Through mistaken identities and misunderstandings, Shakespeare tells the tale of court exiles and forest natives searching for love and meaning in the Forest of Arden. This beloved comedy reminds us that “all the world’s a stage and all the mend and women merely players.” Shows: November 20-22 and December 4-6.

The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance
When a young Victorian surgeon stumbles upon the hideously deformed Elephant Man in a London freak show, he determines he must be normalized—whatever the cost. This Tony Award-winning play examines the price one must pay for being “different.” Shows: January 22-24 and 28-31.

You Can’t Take It With You by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart
Fireworks fly, quite literally, when Tony’s straight-laced parents meet his fianc├ęs wildly unconventional family—a cheerful gang of wacky eccentrics. This Pulitzer-Prize winning play turned Jimmy-Stewart-film-classic is not to be missed! Shows: March 12-14 and 18-21.

Godspell by Stephen Schwartz
As the words of St. Matthew’s Gospel unite with the soaring chords of Stephen Schwartz, the life and parables of Jesus Christ unfold anew in the off-Broadway musical the New York Post calls “a hit, a big, big hit. Godspell believes in God and people and possibility.” Shows: April 23-25 and 30-May 2.

Special Christmas Show: Little Women
Louisa May Alcott’s touching story comes to life in the stage adaptation of her novel about four sisters who mature through sorrow and joy. Shows: December 10-13.

Follow this link to our season brochure:

We hope to see you at the theatre!

April 14, 2009

A few more recent Regent grad updates!

Adam Hurst and Priscilla Hummel are both MFA grads of '07. Priscilla has been very busy directing and choreographing many shows for CYT (Christian Youth Theatre) in Chicago. Her husband, Adam Hurst, played the lead in a Chicago premiere of In the Flesh, produced by Elicia Zimmerman and directed by James Frizzel, also both Regent grads from former years. Adam recently graduated from the improv training program at iO (formerly known as Improv Olympic).

Dan Roberts has been in L.A. since his graduation in ‘07. He’s acted in some short films, including two that appeared in last year's 168 Film Festival, Happy New Year and King’s Vengeance. He also had a part in the direct-to-DVD feature Sunday School Musical. He is a member of Actors Co-op in Hollywood, and has acted in their productions of As You Like It, Leading Ladies, and The Night Before The Night Before Christmas. He was recently in their world premiere musical Makin’ Hay and is currently in rehearsals for their production of The Crucible, which opens in May. He’s also appeared in Twelfth Night and the new musical Wild About Harry with the Crown City Theatre in North Hollywood. Keep up with him at his website:

Christopher Ryan, another ’07 MFA grad, moved to Orlando, FL after graduating, working as a Fight Director for a production of The Scarlet Pimpernel. While living in Orlando, Christopher worked for the Orlando Repertory Theatre as an actor and fight director, playing Squire Trelawney in Treasure Island and Mr. Tumnus in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. He also taugh at two colleges in Orlando, teaching Introduction to Theatre and Costume Design, and he was the Resident Costume Designer for one of the colleges, designing their season of Little Shop of Horrors and The Misanthrope. He started a Musical Theatre program for a private arts school called The Pop Shop, and directed their productions of Honk jr. and Annie jr. In 2008, Christopher and his wife moved to Hamburg, Germany for her studies, and he has worked for the Hamburg University Players as a Choreographer and Fight Director for their production of Into the Woods. He is also working as a private voice teacher and is currently directing for one of the two professional English language theatres in Hamburg, The Rover Rep Theatre, directing The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), which opened in March.

April 9, 2009

Following the process. . .

Of Singin in the Rain, our upcoming musical, which opens the last weekend in April. Check out these photos from our film shoots--making the motion pictures around which the musical revolves! Above: Lina Lamont and her ladies in waiting, while shooting the film "The Dueling Cavalier"

Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont in their silent picture glory!

The drop design for the famous song and dance number, "Beautiful Girls.Don fighting off the villains in 'Monumental Pictures' "The Royal Rascals."
And of course, the classic Singin in the Rain image, with our own Don Lockwood, 3rd year MFA Derek Martin.

For tickets, visit or call 757. 352. 4245

March 26, 2009

From the Cast of Spinning Into Butter

Check out some pictures and cast reflections from our latest production, Spinning Into Butter.

“It was great to get to work on an intimate, realistic show. So often we get caught up in the ‘TA-DA!’ of broad comedies and musicals. Working with the close group of dedicated peers was rewarding personally and educationally.” Ryan Clemens (Burton Strauss)

“As my first attempt at realism on the Regent mainstage, Spinning Into Butter was an exhilarating experience. I was able to sink my teeth into material that was not only challenging for me as an actor, but challenging for me as a person, as it made me examine my own heart. It was also a wonderful experience working with such small cast on a meaningful show, the bonds made in the production will not soon be broken. Spinning forced me relax, breath and just be.” Rob Arbaugh (Ross Collins)

“I didn't expect the moment [in the show] that moves me the most, which came at the very end—the stumbling Sarah trying to get to know Simon. It inspires me to do the same. I often feel like withdrawing when facing people I don't know as well due to lack of words. Since I've been involved in this play I have started to step out more, try to ‘dialogue’ and communicate more. Actually, I can sense this happening in the entire cast. If we're to imitate Christ in how he cares for people, the first step is getting to know people, with a desire of really wanting to know them.” Shinn-Rong Chung (Mr. Meyers)

“This experience really proved to me how much the faculty cares about putting on challenging work as well as work that forces actors to really stay true to their characters. I felt I explored a side of my craft that had been sitting way back in the closet that needed some dusting off only to be worn new again. I was truly appreciative as an artist to go on stage night after night and simply given the opportunity to just be in the moment!” Anna Koehler (Catherine Kenny)

“As a first year MFA in Acting candidate, Spinning Into Butter was the perfect show for me to be able to apply what I’m presently learning. Even though the journey was a challenge at times, it was ultimately fulfilling to see the work that I’ve invested in my classes being applied practically in a production.” Joseph Martinez (Patrick Chibas)