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!*

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