January 29, 2009

Some Recent MFA Grad Updates!

Michael Woods, 08, since graduation has been working as a professional actor with several theatre companies in Chicago, IL. He is currently performing at one of the most popular theatres in the area, Metropolis Performing Arts Center, and rehearsing for two Shakespeare shows to be performed March-May. He just received a great review in the Chicago Tribune for his performance in The Foreigner. Follow this link for the review: http://www.triblocal.com/Oak_Brook/Detail_View/view.html?type=stories&action=detail&sub_id=45095

Joshua Nicholson, 08, has been in New York since graduation and was recently cast as Mr. Howell in the national tour of Gilligan’s Island: The Musical. The tour, produced by Broadway on Tour, starts rehearsals February 2 and runs from February 21-May 3. He also continues to get a lot of voice over work with Studio Center and just did a national commercial.

Justin Glinn, 08, just finished up a European tour of the American Phantom of the Opera (playing one of the opera managers) and is now at the Miracle Theatre (http://www.miracletheater.com/) in Pigeon Forge, TN, playing Thomas, Battle Angel, Singing Angel, Thief on the cross, and Tomb Angel. He is also getting married this fall to current MFA student Karen Atha! Keep up with him at http://www.justinglinn.com/.

January 28, 2009

U.K. Professional Directs Regent Theatre Production of The Rivals

By Judy Baker, Regent Public Relations

'There is something contagious about Michael Gaunt's love of theatre. As a professional actor in the United Kingdom, Gaunt's desire to impart his passion for the stage into others led him to become a theatre professor, principal and director—a career spanning over 40 years.

"My career feels like the span of five minutes—if you do something you enjoy, it is not work," Gaunt said. "I knew that being involved in theatre is what I always wanted to do."

Gaunt stepped into many roles as the current director of the Birmingham School of Acting and enjoys every one of them. And now, he's serving as the special guest director of the Regent University theatre department's production of The Rivals, which opens Thursday, January 29.

"Gaunt's directing of this British romantic comedy is set to deliver some of the finest theatre ever in the region," said Michael Patrick, dean of Regent's School of Communication & the Arts. "Our relationship with Gaunt has grown and we are so privileged to have him this season."

Twelve years ago, Gaunt was a colleague and friend of Dr. Michael Kirkland, current Regent theatre professor and head of the MFA program, where they worked together in a Pennsylvania acting school. They kept up their friendship, and last summer, Kirkland persuaded Gaunt to teach theatre workshops at Regent during modular week. There, Gaunt met five of the actors who are starring in The Rivals.

Gaunt said that his experience of working with American actors on The Rivals has been an extremely good one. "The actors at Regent have moved easily into the style and language of the play," he said. "The challenges have been few, and we have worked together to lift the play off the page and onto to stage!"

Gaunt has earned numerous achievements over the last 40 years. His productions have graced the stage of the Russian Academy for Theatre Arts, Moscow Art Theatre School and Hong Kong Academy, among others. Gaunt's last acting role was on a U.K. tour in a Thelma Holt production of Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Today, his love of the art remains full of passion."There are sublime moments during productions when you know that something special occurs between stage and auditorium. It is a oneness between the two that will always be rewarding." For more information and tickets to The Rivals, visit http://www.regent.edu/theatre.

*Note: Regent Theatre students are invited to attend the final dress rehearsal of The Rivals tonight, January 28, at 8pm!*

January 16, 2009

Spotlight on…Brandy Caldwell

In Regent’s recent production of The Cherry Orchard, third-year MFA student Brandy Caldwell performed the role of Lyubov in fulfillment of her MFA thesis project. Brandy, a South Carolina native, has been a fixture on the Regent stage throughout her residency in the MFA program. She has played such memorable roles as Jack’s Mother in Into the Woods, Catherine Petkoff in Arms and the Man, and Margot in The Diary of Anne Frank. While the Regent theatre community has come to know her remarkable talents well, this summer one of the most prestigious professional theatres in the country also took notice.

Celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, the Berkshire Theatre Festival is one of the oldest and most respected regional theatres in the country. Located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the Berkshire Theatre Festival has hosted such notable actors as Ethel Barrymore, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Gene Hackman. Through a highly competitive selection process, Brandy was chosen as one of a handful of promising young actors to join their apprenticeship program this summer. While there, Brandy was vigorously trained in the Suzuki method, took many theatre classes taught by high-profile theatre professionals, and had the opportunity to play Hera in Hercules and understudy the role of Alice More in A Man for All Seasons. The company was so impressed with Brandy that she was invited back to play the role of The Ghost of Christmas Past in their annual production of A Christmas Carol.

When asked about her experience this past summer, Brandy responded: “I was gifted with a greater understanding for people, and I now live with an even greater desire to love other artists within the theatre. My training at Regent provided a foundation for me in the midst of a challenging environment with gifted actors all around me. I was completely confident in my process, molded through my most precious MFA faculty! My time at BTF was affirmation that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I was created to be an actor and to love others with that same passion, to serve a community through story.”

Brandy’s experience this Christmas at BTF was equally rewarding. She had this to say about her most recent opportunity at BTF:

'I am currently playing The Ghost of Christmas Past and The Laundress in BTF’s Production of A Christmas Carol. Performing this play in the Berkshires during the holiday season is exceptionally dreamy. I am working alongside many talented child actors, which creates a different dynamic from the casts I am used to. This adjustment causes me to arrive at the theatre early in order to have the preparation time that I need. I am most thankful for the training in the Linklater, Chekhov, Meisner, and Lugering technique that I have received at Regent University. I have pulled from each of these in creation of these roles. I also greatly appreciate my mentor Mark Paladini as he is available to give advice and encouragement whenever I need it. Both he and Michael Kirkland were so supportive and met with me before rehearsals began to encourage my work on objectives and story structure. I am so incredibly grateful that I have these teachers’ insight, wisdom, and constant prayer! This production is also one of my first experiences working with extremely seasoned actors, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. There is a professionalism that we adhere to that makes for a spectacular working environment. Also, during this time of economic crisis I am thankful to read our playbill where the executive director Kate Maguire has written, “All of us at The Berkshire Theatre Festival are very grateful to be inspired by the remarkable spirit of this play, particularly at this point in our own story. The times we find ourselves in are certainly presenting enormous challenges and though much seems uncertain, our determination to continue to present great work is firm.” This incredibly unique community of artists is a group of compassionate people seeking excellence in everything we do. Kate Maguire leads the way as she creates an environment where dignity is for all. We are all exceptionally blessed to be working here. '

Click here for a review of BTF’s Christmas Carol, with mention of our own Brandy Caldwell!

Curious about Regent Students’ Summer Work?

Ever wonder what Regent’s Theatre students do during their summers? Take a look at what our current MFA and MA students did during Summer 2008!

Brandy Caldwell spent her summer in Stockbridge, Massachusetts with the prestigious Berkshire Theatre Festival. She played the lead role of Hera in Hercules and understudied the role of Alice More in A Man for All Seasons. Brandy was invited to return in December to play The Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol.

Chris Graham joined the professional company of The University of Findlay’s SummerStock where he performed in Hank Williams: Lost Highway and A Year with Frog and Toad.

Ashley Larsen served as a stage manager and acting instructor at Regent’s summer theatre camps where Anna Koehler taught improvisation and Chad Rasor taught stage combat.

Kevin Stidham spent his summer in Williamsburg with the Virginia Shakespeare Festival where he played Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew and Cassio in Othello.

Derek Martin played the title role in The Music Man and choreographed Carousel for the Round Barn Theater in northern Indiana.

Robert Arbaugh and Ryan Clemens performed Prisoners with the Uncovered Theatre Company, touring to churches in northern Michigan and throughout Hampton Roads.

Alaska Reece-Vance, Katie Fridsma, and Chad Rasor organized and taught a summer theatre camp in Tennessee’s Tri-Cities area with The Drifting Theatre Company. They also performed in an original 4-person adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at sites throughout Tennessee and Georgia.

Katie Cheely performed a new adaptation of her original show, Amidst Darkness, at the Peter Jones Gallery in Chicago.

Kaja Dunn traveled throughout Taiwan with fellow MFA student Shinn-Rong Chung and his Christian theatre company, Ya Tong. Together they taught a range of acting workshops to over 200 theatre artists.

Matthew Winning played Riff in the Park Playhouse production of West Side Story in
Albany, NY.

Jayson Akridge played the lead in Regent’s summer film, Mindtrap. He also taught a Shakespearean acting course at a theatre camp in Booneville, Missouri.

Katie Fridsma, Ryan Clemens, and Robert Arbaugh performed in Under His Wings, an original musical based on the story of Boaz and Ruth, at the Rocky Hock Playhouse in Edenton, NC.

Sean Cowan founded the Portland Improv Group and played leading roles in the Last Rites Productions of Dinner and Destiny and Cocktails.

Kelly Levander spent her summer doing film and voice-over projects and working on the Colonial Williamsburg production, An Idea of America.

Sharon Eyster returned to Prince Edward Island to perform in the world premiere musical The Nine Lives of L.M. Montgomery based on the life of author Lucy Maud Montgomery and composed by Emmy-nominated composer Leo Marchildon. She recorded the original cast album set for release this fall.

Desiray Boyd, in addition to teaching at Regent’s summer camp, taught theatre in the Upward Bound program in Hampton.

January 14, 2009

MFA Auditions, Spring 2009!

It’s that time of year again, and the professors are getting ready to hit the road.

Later this month, Eric Harrell will be headed to Houston, Texas to audition actors for the next MFA Acting class. Auditions will be held at the Hyatt Regency on January 23-24. These auditions are concurrent with the annual conference of the Texas Educational Theatre Association, where Eric will be teaching several workshops.

Soon after that, Eric will be in Chicago, IL during the URTA National Auditions, holding auditions at the Palmer House Hilton downtown on February 1-2.

On February 28, Mark Paladini will be at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, CA, auditioning actors for the next MFA class.

Mark Paladini and Michael Kirkland will be attending, teaching, and auditioning actors for Regent’s MFA program at the SETC Spring Graduate Auditions in Birmingham, AL on March 5-6.

Finally, any students wishing to combine their audition with a visit to Regent’s campus and Virginia Beach are invited to the University’s Spring Preview, where auditions with the performance faculty will be held on March 13.

To schedule an audition at any of these locations, contact recruitment coordinator Jennifer Jackson at 757-352-4228 or email auditions@regent.edu, and feel free to stop by and chat about Regent with our professors if you're in the area!

Hope to see you there!


January 13, 2009

Regent University Presents World Premiere of The Glory Man!

Click here to read the reviews of the production! From the Virginia Pilot:

And from the Portfolio Weekly: http://www.portfolioweekly.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=F68CDEB337014B958AC7547206FE8A61

Spotlight on…Dennis Hassell, Playwright of The Glory Man

Dennis Hassell wears many hats - writer, actor, teacher, producer, and director – but he seems himself primarily as one thing—a storyteller. After all, story-telling is in his blood. His mother was a kitchen comedienne and his grandfather ran a radio station where he often adlibbed stories on the air. Dennis himself began writing at the age of 15 and has remained an avid story-teller ever since. A native of Vernon, British Columbia, Dennis studied at the University of Alberta where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. He has worked and trained at the internationally-recognized Shaw Festival, the Citadel Theatre, Lamb’s Players Theatre, and on many film and television projects. In 1988, Dennis founded Brookstone Theatre in Toronto and served as its Artistic Director for 17 years. He has directed or produced over 60 shows, including 15 world premieres and 30 Toronto premieres, and he’s received 14 Dora Award nominations (a prestigious award presented annually by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts) .

As an associate writer with the Lamb’s Players Theatre (San Diego), Art Within (Atlanta), Pacific Theatre (Vancouver), and Triborne Film and Video (Toronto), Dennis has written over 17 productions for both stage and film. He has been the recipient of many grants and commissions from arts agencies and producers around the globe. He has a special interest in stories with a spiritual dimension and says that his life, like his work, is bursting with spiritual adventures. He currently resides in Toronto with his wife and two children, but he extensively tours his original one-man shows, which specialize in humor, spiritual experience, and audience participation.

Dennis has taught creative communication at over a dozen universities and is a regular performer and speaker at national conferences. In October, Dennis spent a week here at Regent with our students, where he taught a class on developing the one-person show and led a script workshop for The Glory Man. The cast learned much from this passionate storyteller as they began bringing to life this awe-inspiring story of a man who followed God against all odds.

(Right: MFA Thesis Actors Derek Martin and Kelly Levander with BA Philip Wrencher)

For more information about Dennis and his work, please visit http://www.dennishassell.com/ or http://www.christianyouthdrama.com/.

The New Forum for Regent Theatre News

Hello and welcome to Regent’s Backstage Blog! This is a place where the past, present, and future Regent Theatre community can keep up with departmental news and share their own updates. It is our special hope that prospective students can get a good picture of what it’s like to be a part of Regent’s Theatre community. So please, as we endeavor to become excellent artists to glorify our Master Creator and serve others, join with us in our community dialogue. We’re glad you’re here!