December 9, 2010

Great Review for "Ballyhoo"!

The Last Night of Ballyhoo received a glowing review in the Virginia Beach Beacon.  Congratulations cast and crew!
http://hamptonroads.com/2010/12/regent-mounts-solid-production-ballyhoo?cid=srch

December 7, 2010

Regent Educational Theatre Tour

Were you aware that the School of Communication and the Arts has its very own touring company? Initiated this year by Producer/Director Nathanael Fisher (2nd year MFA student) the Regent Educational Theatre Tour is up and running. Nathanael was inspired to start the company while taking a writing class with Professor Gilette Elvgren. Dr. Elvgren is the founder of Saltworks Theater Company in Pittsburgh, PA. His play I Am The Brother of Dragons, a piece about chemical abuse and peer pressure, has been touring the Eastern seaboard for over 20 years. Nathanael said Dr. Elvgren inspired and challenged the class to be proactive and make opportunities for ourselves and others, which led him to the idea of touring I Am the Brother of Dragons to the Hampton Roads community.

Under the advisement of Dr. Elvgren and Professor Scott Hayes, who also has professional experience with educational touring groups, Nathanael drafted a proposal for Regent Educational Theatre Tour and presented it to the Dean.

With the support of the School of Communications and Arts Admissions Department, Nathanael put together a cast of undergraduate theatre students and began rehearsals for the tour. The cast includes John Mark Bowman, Daniel McGary, Juliette Romano, Lily Wilson, Tianna Yentzer and Brad Ziegler. Already this year, the group has performed for Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in Chesapeake and Tallwood High School in VA Beach. Upcoming venues include Faith Christian Center Norfolk, Crittenden Middle School in Newport News, Calvary Christian School in Norfolk, Light of Life Christian Center in Virginia Beach, Great Bridge Baptist Church in Chesapeake, and two special performances for the Regent community in COM128 on December 10 and 11.

When asked about the biggest challenges facing the new company, Nathanael and the cast had varied reactions. For Nathanael, the biggest challenge has been marketing. He says that even though the show is being offered free of charge to local schools, getting the word out has been difficult. For cast members Tianna Yentzer and Dan McGary, some of the biggest challenges have been scheduling and memorization. Tianna and fellow cast member Juliette Romano add “This process of touring theatre has proved to be a greater challenge than I had anticipated…it’s both fun and frustrating at times because they (high school audiences) are constantly responding to the story and talking at us.”

However, all agreed that the rewards outweigh the challenges. Juliette found “that God is using this show to reach out to some kids. It has been such a reward to hear that our show has pulled some walls down for kids dealing with the stuff we are portraying.” Cast member Lily Wilson enjoys the question and answer portion at the end of the performance, and appreciates being able to get the audience’s point of view. For Nathanael, it’s all about the impact the performance can have on students. He says, “I had a youth pastor tell us that his students were deeply impacted by I Am the Brother of Dragons. The show brought to life some very real issues that his youth were dealing with. He said that the show was so effective he was going to spend the next 3 weeks following up on the issues raised by the show. Others have said  there were students in attendance that are currently dealing with substance abuse and addiction. They have been thankful that Dragons shows where the path of addiction can end. If these students are being affected by the play, if someone makes a choice to step away from substance abuse, then that is a great reward.”

Regent’s Educational Theatre Tour will soon be adding an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to their repertoire. This production will feature fight choreography by 2nd year MFAs Zachary Bortot and Britain Willcock.
To find out more about Regional Educational Theatre Tour, come see one of their performances on Dec. 10th or 11th, at 8:00pm in COM128. The performance is free, but seating is limited.

To schedule a performance contact Nathanael Fisher at 757-955-3957 or nathfis@regent.edu

December 3, 2010

Holiday Happenings

Do you love Christmas? Do you love theatre? Want to find a way to celebrate both? Check out what current and former Regent Theatre students are up to this holiday season:

In the Hampton Roads Area:

Christopher Graham, Derek Martin and Jennifer Martin (all MFA Alums) – Featured performers, Holiday Melody, Virginia Musical Theatre, Dec. 3 – 5

Derek and Jennifer Martin (MFA Alums) – Choreographers, White Christmas, Theatrix, Dec. 3 – 5 and Dec. 10 – 12

Beka James (B.A.) – Dancer, A Storyland Christmas, Masterworks, Regent University, Dec. 3-5

Sean Cowan (MFA), Ryan Clemens (MFA Alum), Jared O'Dell (B.A.) and Derek Leonidoff (Adjunct Professor) – Improv Comedy, Nobody Loses, The Actor’s Place, Dec. 4th and 11th

Elsewhere:

Rachel Arbaugh (B.A. Alum) – Belle, A Christmas Carol, Meadow Brook Theatre, Rochester, MI

Katie Fridsma (MFA Alum) – Martha Cratchit, A Christmas Carol, Nebraska Theatre Caravan (tour)

Eric Snodgrass (M.A.) - The Gifts of the Magi, The Telemachus Society, Claremont, CA

Justin Anderson (M.A.) – Director, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Synchronicity Theatre, Atlanta, GA

If you know of other members of our Regent family who are involved in theatre this Christmas, feel free to post in the comment section!

November 19, 2010

Theatre Explores Faith and Family


Nathan Scmidt as Peachy and Tabitha Ray Strong as Lala
By Rachel Judy

Set in 1939 Atlanta, The Last Night of Ballyhoo tells the story of an upwardly mobile German-Jewish family searching for a way to find acceptance within their southern community. Regent University's theatre puts its own spin on the semi-autobiographical play beginning on Nov. 19.

Written by Alfred Uhry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Driving Miss Daisy, the story takes place during the Christmas season. The Freitag family is struggling to blend in with their community until a transplanted Yankee from Brooklyn, Joe Farkas, arrives on the scene. The idea of rejecting religious beliefs in order to blend does not sit well with Joe, but he's enamored with one of the Freitag girls. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play of 1997, The Last Night of Ballyhoo combines a pre-World War II romance with Uhry's exploration of a society on the verge of change.

Following the extended Freitag family in America's isolated days prior to World War II, Uhry's work attempts to showcase the last days of innocence for a generation. But, that innocence is overshadowed by the play's exploration of the intercultural bigotry that existed between German and Eastern European Jews.

Mark Paladini, theatre department artist-in-residence and the director of The Last Night of Ballyhoo, explains the term "ballyhoo" and how it relates to Uhry's story: "Ballyhoo was a three-day event created by German Jews in the South as an attempt to copy the cotillions held at restricted country clubs in the South," he said. "Alfred Uhry's father was involved in the organization of Ballyhoo according to programs found by students researching the play. Students also found pictures of Alfred Uhry with his Christmas tree as a child, which drove home the fact that many elements of the play evolved from Uhry's own experiences (and those of his parents) growing up in the South."

The story of a generation on the brink of war also hits home for Paladini. "Knowing what happened to the ancestors of my wife and children (and through marriage, my family), I can't help but be moved by the plight of Joe Farkas," he explained. "My goal is to share my warm feelings about this family with our audiences and to create a common bond of love for all those who attend this very special production."

In Regent's production, MFA in Acting students Tabitha Ray, Hannah Hughes Nathan Schmidt and Chad Gilliland present their thesis roles.

The Last Night of Ballyhoo runs Nov. 19-21 and Dec. 2-5.

Purchase tickets through the Regent University Box Office.

November 16, 2010

The Last Night of Ballyhoo Opens This Weekend!

Mark Paladini

A Word From The Director:

The Last Night of Ballyhoo lovingly captures the plight of Jews in the South searching for a way to succeed and find acceptance as an integral part of the community in 1939.

Alfred Uhry’s frequently autobiographical look at the extended Freitag family captures the irony of their behavior with compassion, love and a post-Civil Rights Era wink. Ballyhoo transports us to a more innocent moment in time, a time when escapist entertainment on live radio and the movie screen insulated Americans from the sound of German troops marching into Poland.

Some scenes in our play take place on a famous train known as the Crescent Limited. The train brought travelers from New York to New Orleans via a crescent shaped route that stopped in major cities along the way, including Atlanta. Hop on that train with me and go back to a time when the crescent moon was a symbol of romance. This trip reminds us that we are all on this journey together.

The author also wants us to identify with the fears that Jews in Atlanta experienced in this period. The Freitag/Levy family lives in a city where a Jewish man named Leo Frank was unjustly lynched* in 1915. This event, though unspoken, helps us understand how the characters in this play have valid fears in regard to practicing their religion openly at this time in history in the South.
 
Tabitha Ray Strong as Lala
Come back with us to a time when there were Jews named Adolph, and many popular Jewish performers hosted Christmas specials on their radio shows. Some Jews in the South had never even seen a yarmulke (or kippah), the skull cap Jewish men wear for religious celebrations. Many Jews would light Shabbat (Sabbath) candles at sundown on Friday night prior to eating ham hocks and shrimp, decidedly non-kosher menu items. One might say that the dining car on this train has plenty of portions of humor, assimilation, romance, fear and warm memories.

Enjoy this nostalgic train ride and all the ballyhoo that comes along with it!

*Chronicled in the musical PARADE, book by Alfred Uhry, whose great-uncle owned the factory that Leo Frank managed


The Last Night of Ballyhoo runs
Nov. 19 - 21 and Dec. 2 - 5. 
Call the box office for tickets at 757.352.4245.



November 5, 2010

Focus on Design

The Theatre Department recently completed a major overhaul of one of our rooms. Known as the Acting Lab, or COM128, this space has always been in high demand as a classroom, rehearsal and performance space. Now the space will have even more versatility. Regent Backstage spoke to Design Professor Mike Burnett about how the decision to convert COM128 came about.

Mike Burnett: “We've been producing Second Stage shows in the Studio Theater for the past few years. With our intense production schedule, high production quality, and minimal technical/design staff, we either had to find another space or cancel the Second Stage shows. We decided that since Lab shows were successful in COM128, we would move Second Stage in there, and give them a little bit of budget and staff support.”

Regent Backstage: “What were the deciding factors that contributed to the current design?”

Mike Burnett: “Flexibility. Since four days a week COM128 is a heavily used classroom, plus still has to handle rehearsals, we had to create a space that had minimal impact on all that.”

Regent Backstage: “Can you describe the changes to the space?”

Mike Burnett: “COM128 now has permanent seating, which leads to a higher seating capacity. Previous capacity was thirty bodies (audience, actors, techs)...we are now at sixty. We also invested in new lighting equipment - light board, light fixtures. All the lights are installed in a ‘rep’ plot. This means that the lighting gels can change per show, but adding/taking away lights and refocusing the bulk of the lights will not happen. This allows all shows in there, as well as classes, to always have multiple lighting areas with multiple colors without having to go thru the process of hanging, circuiting, and focusing. There is also a new sound system complete with speakers, amps, CD/iPod/Computer playback capability. We added new floor surfacing. Previously, there was a really old Marley dance floor. We replaced it with masonite hardboard which allows us to tape and paint it. Finally, there is a new emergency exit door.”

Regent Backstage: “What are the biggest pros and cons of the new design?”

Mike Burnett: “The biggest pro is all the flexibility and ease of use. Now any student production, with minimal instruction, can have a higher quality production. Since we now can bring in larger outside audiences, they can expect higher quality productions.

The biggest drawback is how the audience accesses the space. We had intended for the audience to enter and exit through the new door to the outside. This isn't happening now, so they will enter and exit through the old doors, which means they come through a backstage space. It’s not ideal, but it’s something we'll figure out. It also means that dressing room access and bathroom access for actors and audience is something we're still feeling out. Another con is how the changeover from classroom to theatre happens. There are lots of props and class furniture to move around.”

Here are a couple of pictures from Royal Gambit - the first production to utilize the new COM128 space.  The show runs Nov. 5-6 at 8:00pm and Nov. 6-7 at 3:00pm.  Call the box office for tickets at 757.352.4245. Come see a performance of Royal Gambit this weekend and check it out! 


Cast and Crew of Royal Gambit

Tim Stanlake and Megan Friberg in Royal Gambit

November 4, 2010

Royal Gambit Runs One More Weekend

Second-Stage Telling of Historical Tale

By Rachel Judy

The tale of England's King Henry VIII and his six wives is familiar to even casual students of history. While Henry's perspective is familiar, it is his six wives who take center stage for Regent University's Second Stage production, Royal Gambit, which premiered on Friday, Oct. 29.

In his quest for a male heir to secure his family's succession on the throne, the king sifted through his wives looking for one who would produce an heir. The fate of the women is perhaps best described in the rhyme taught to English schoolchildren: "divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived."

In Regent's production, the collective stories of Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Katarina of Aragon, Anna of Cleves, Kate Parr and Kathryn Howard are portrayed by a combination of undergraduate and graduate theater students.

As the wives' collective story unfolds, it becomes a compelling metaphor for the transformation of civilization's age of faith to the age of reason and the central moral issues involved in that change.

"It's interesting because the play is not just a historical drama, but makes Henry the prototype for mankind as he journeys through various ages of thought," explained Christopher Graham, the play's director and also a 2009 graduate of Regent's MFA Theatre program. "This play has 500 years of drama, comedy, philosophy, theology and history all rolled into about two hours."

"The six women, their lives and unfortunate deaths, make up the meat of the story," Graham added. "Each has her own struggle as she attempts to survive in a world revolving around the willful king. Some survive better than others."

While providing a look at the wives and their stories, Royal Gambit challenges the audience to consider God's existence, His power and His relationship with man.

The play runs from Oct. 29-31 and Nov. 4-7.

Purchase tickets at the Regent Box Office.

October 27, 2010

Royal Gambit Opens This Weekend

Christopher Graham

Regent's Second Stage season opens this weekend with the production Royal Gambit, written by Herman Gressieker, translated and adapted by George White.  Royal Gambit is the exciting legacy of Henry VIII as told by his six wives.  Hailed by the New York Times as "an original, stimulating and...well-written play..." , Royal Gambit is being directed by 2009 MFA in Acting graduate, Christopher Graham.  Since graduation Christopher has had the chance to perform locally for Virginia Stage Company and multiple productions with the Virginia Musical Theatre.

Here's what Christopher has to say about working on Royal Gambit:

There are not too many characters in history more infamous then King Henry the VIII. From his legendary affair with Anne Boleyn, to his conflict with the Bishop of Rome, Henry helped bring about one the greatest upheavals western civilization had ever known. Surrounding him were six fascinating, yet rather unfortunate, women: “Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived” is the rhyme that English school children learn to describe the fate of the six wives of King Henry VIII. Royal Gambit is on the one hand a historical drama, but on the other hand is something else completely. It’s a thinking kind of play. You’ll be rolling along very happily through the middle of the 16th century when all of a sudden you’ll hear Henry reference the Second World War. You sit back and scrunch up your forehead, but you’ll soon realize that Royal Gambit is not just about a man who cannot find rest in the world that he has created, but a mankind who cannot find rest. Henry ushers in an age that is “not to be God’s, but man’s.” This is a far cry from the strictly religious battles of the 16th century, but a battle for the very heart of faith itself. Who is God and what is our relationship to Him? Where does man’s power stop and God’s power begin? How far can we make it without Him? Is there even a God?
These are the questions of the modern man and Royal Gambit uses the story of this very flawed King to ask them. So I hope that you will be willing to put on your “thinking cap”, come with us, and explore. You may even find some answers, but it depends on Who you ask.

Royal Gambit runs October 29-30 and Nov. 4-6 at 8:00pm; October 30-31 and Nov. 5-6 at 3:00pm.  The performance is being held in Com 128 and seating is limited.  Call 757-352-4245 to reserve your tickets now!

October 15, 2010

Our Town Offers Perspective on Life


cast members Amy Dunlap, Jared O'Dell, and Tiffany Evans.
L-R: Amy Dunlap, Jared O'Dell, Tiffany Evans

Our Town Offers Perspective on Life

By Rachel Judy

Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Our Town, is no doubt familiar to theater-going audiences for its simple, yet profound commentary on the complexities of human life. Hoping to capture the elegance of the early 20th century while appealing to today's audiences, Regent University Theatre will present Our Town on Oct. 15-17 and Oct. 22-24 in the Communication & Performing Arts Center's Main Theatre.

Divided into three acts, Our Town tells the story of the Grover's Corners, N.H., residents through the eyes of the stage manager. The stage manager's role is to create the scene and establish the character background; the other actors rely on mime to tell stories of daily life, love and marriage, and death.

Regent's production is directed by guest director Marianne Savell, an actress and playwright who previously directed the 2009 Regent theatre production Dancing at Lughnasa. "Our Town may be the great American play," Savell says. "No matter your history with it, this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama has the power to rattle and shake you to the core again and again."

While many will remember Our Town from their required literature classes in middle and high school, Savell's approach with the Regent production is to honor the classical play with a modern twist. "The play sticks with you and yet, reintroduces itself masterfully every time you engage it," she explains. "A friend of mine wonderfully described it this way: 'Thornton Wilder is radical and reassuring in the same breathless breath.' This couldn't be truer."

The opportunity for the Our Town cast to work with Savell is significant, explains Eric Harrell, chair of Regent's theatre department. "Affording our student actors the opportunity to work with highly accomplished directors from the professional theatre is of tremendous educational value," he says. "Their technique work is challenged and refined when they work with an artist of Marianne's caliber. It's important for them to hear the language of craft reflected in the voice of an industry professional as well as resident faculty."

MFA in Acting students Joseph Martinez and Tiffany Evans will perform their thesis roles in Our Town as Doc Gibbs and Emily Webb respectively.

Savell is an adjunct professor at Vanguard University, an associate artist with Taproot Theater Company and a member of Directors Lab West. She received her MFA in Acting from the University of Illinois and has been a guest artist at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She served as producing director of Actors Co-op in Hollywood and 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.

Purchase tickets for Our Town through the Regent University Box Office.

October 12, 2010

Meet Marianne Savell, Director of "Our Town"

Regent Theatre welcomes Marianne Savell, guest director of Our Town and last season's production of Dancing at Lughnasa. Marianne is an accomplished actor, director and teacher coming to us from Seattle & Los Angeles. She is an adjunct professor at Vanguard University, an associate artist with Taproot Theater Company 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 served as Producing Director of Actors Co-op in Hollywood and 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, the StagesceneLA award-winner Wit, The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, Shadowlands, the world premiere Yours, Isabel, 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. 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. Both Marianne and Dan were nominated for LA Weekly awards for The Crucible. We’re glad to have her here!

Marianne’s Thoughts about Our Town
"So many of us have a history with Our Town. We read it in high school, or we played Simon Stimson in college or we saw it at a community theatre in Clinton, Mississippi. Recently, Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer-prize winning play has had a resurgence off Broadway with a beautiful production by The Hypocrites out of Chicago. What is striking about this play is that memory softens what is actually a sharply insightful and brutally honest play about our humanity. A friend recently joked with me that Our Town is a zombie play. I had to kind of agree with him. It is a play about what it means to really live, to die, to be the living dead. If we're really honest with ourselves we sometimes feel like we're more dead than alive. And it scares us. But do we change? Do we make the effort to really live? This play delights me and terrifies me. Challenges me to do better. Come with us to Our Town, and stay awhile..."

Working with Marianne
“It was such a pleasure to work under the direction of Marianne Savelle in Regent’s production of Dancing at Lughnasa last year! She worked tirelessly and patiently to turn this sow’s ear into a credible Father Jack. Imagine my excitement, then, to learn that I would have the opportunity to reprise the role of Professor Willard under Marianne’s capable direction! Marianne is adept at bringing out the best in each actor, no matter the size of the role, and integrating each role into the balanced whole of a piece. She also brings such a wide and current connection to the professional world and plugs us into that connection as well. It is equally encouraging to hear her share the many opportunities she has to integrate her faith with her art. She has become not only a director with whom I enjoy working but also, I am happy to say, a colleague and friend” – Mike Salsbury, 2nd-year MFA

“I felt like the entire production (Dancing at Lughnasa) was put together through one big conversation. Marianne has the perfect mix between letting you explore your character freely and pushing you to limits you didn’t even know were possible. Some of my best show experiences have been with her because I felt like I left the process a better, more inspired actor.” – Jeff Fazakerley, 2nd-year MFA

“Marianne has a beautiful grasp of how to communicate the important story of Our Town in a startling, enlightening manner. She has made many subtle choices in blocking and the use of sound to compel thought. She triggers thought within her actors. She challenges and provokes the character but never diminishes the actor. Her goal is the story. She is always asking the question, ‘What is the best choice to honor the story?’ We trust her. We value her insights. If she asks us to do it, we do it with conviction. We are a cohesive group that takes risks and is unafraid to venture into the unknown with Marianne as our guide.” – Brittany Baird, 1st-year MA

Come and see what all the buzz is about! Our Town opens October 15th and runs through October 24th.

October 7, 2010

Dr. Michael Hill-Kirkland Appearing in VMT's "Man of La Mancha"

Regent Theatre’s own Professor of Theatre and Head of the MFA Acting Program, Dr. Michael Hill-Kirkland, will be appearing as Sancho Panza in Virginia Musical Theatre’s upcoming production of Man of La Mancha! According to the VMT website, Man of La Mancha is “deemed one of the all-time great musicals of the American stage. This is a brilliant theatrical adventure that looks at life not as it is but as it should be. The inspiring score features The Impossible Dream. Winner of five TONY© Awards including Best Musical."

Regent Backstage asked Dr. Kirkland to share some thoughts about the upcoming production…

Regent Backstage: How did this performance opportunity come about?

Dr. Kirkland: VMT sent me an audition notice requesting that I make our students aware of auditions for the production. I told them I would and queried them as to whether they had anyone to handle the combat in the show, if not, that I would be interested. Mark Hudgins, the managing director, responded that they did not and that Jeff Meredith, the artistic director, was interested in engaging me to do so. I had worked with them once before on The Scarlet Pimpernel. I accepted, and informed them that I had done the show six times before…sometimes in the role of Sancho, sometimes as fight director, and sometimes as both. That led to an invitation to audition for the role. I made sure they knew I was a member of AEA before accepting the invitation to audition. I thought it would be pointless unless they were ready to commit to a union contract. They responded that they had not really considered a union contract for Sancho, but that they were open to it. I auditioned…and they offered me the role.


Regent Backstage: Can you elaborate on your past experience with Man of La Mancha?


Dr. Kirkland: My experience with the show is fairly extensive. I’ve done this show more than any other over my career. I’ve performed it in a variety of venues: academic, community, and professional. I’ve played Sancho. I’ve played the Barber. Over the years I’ve staged the fights a number of times under a wide range of conditions both amateur and professional. My feelings for the show are immensely affectionate. It’s a character driven show perfectly made for actors. The plot hinges on a play-within-a-play and serves as an example of the power of theatre to change lives. And the themes. I love the themes. Belief in dreams and in one’s self. Service to the quest—a lofty goal, committing to something larger than one’s self. The belief that some things in life—some dreams--are worth fighting for even when you know that you are destined to defeat; that sometimes you must “march into hell for a heavenly cause.” These are ideas that have profound resonation for me.


Regent Backstage: What do you hope to get from the experience this time?

Dr. Kirkland: The last time I performed Sancho was about twelve years ago. At that point in time I felt that I was probably ending my relationship with the little fellow with a belly full of proverbs. In truth, I was growing a little tired of him. Now, with twelve years having passed, I realized that I had grown to miss this guy. Time has a way of changing our perspective on things. I have a feeling I will see him, and the play, through different eyes. I believe that I have changed a lot on the inside over these twelve years, and I have a feeling I am going to connect with the emotional truth in Sancho, and in the play, in a much more profound way. I think I feel things more deeply now than I did then. Because of that, I have a feeling I’m going to feel this play much more deeply. It has been eight years since I last acted. At Regent, with our sizeable MFA Acting program, it is difficult justifying faculty taking roles in our productions. This makes it a lot more difficult, especially if you are a union actor, to find local opportunities to act. It’s going to be a challenge to scrape off the rust after eight years—but one I feel is both healthy and necessary. I have spent the last eight years primarily in the role of teacher/director. It will be nice to trod the boards again--on the other side of the footlights!

Performances of Man of La Mancha are one weekend only, October 22, 23 & 24

Virginia Musical Theatre’s box office number is757-340-5446.

Break a leg, Dr. Kirkland!

October 6, 2010

Leaving Iowa Receives Accolades in Veer Magazine

"When Regent University Theatre gets it right - as they most certainly do with Leaving Iowa - their shows belong at the head of the local AAA League, only a notch below the big-league pros."

Read the rest of the review HERE!

September 22, 2010

Leaving Iowa Offers Touching Journey

Theatre students star in Leaving Iowa
L - R: Back: Sharon Biermann, Tabitha Ray,
Front: Zachary Bortot, Sean Cowan
by Judy Baker

For many, the phrase "family vacation" conjures up images of sweltering heat, hours in a car, and an abundance of educational tourist sites. The Regent University Theatre Department captures the nostalgic memories of these annual summer journeys in Leaving Iowa.
In this sentimental comedy penned by stand-up comedians Tim Clue and Spike Manton, journalist Don Browning returns home to Winterset, Iowa, to find a suitable place to scatter his father's ashes. As he journeys across the Midwest, he relives the summer vacations he spent as a boy idly perched with his sister in the backseat of his family's station wagon.

The heartwarming production is set in a cornfield and is told through flashbacks intermingled with the present. "I've joked with the cast that Leaving Iowa is a colorful collision of Hee-Haw and The Glass Menagerie," said director Eric Harrell, chair of Regent's theatre department.

Although it's a comedy, the play poignantly portrays Browning's quest to make peace with his deceased father. "This delightful new play strikes the perfect balance of tender humor as father and son reconnect for one last, grand adventure," Harrell explained. "In many ways, it's a nostalgic ode to days gone by."

The production's message that the journey is often as important as the destination is sure to resonate with people of all ages. "I suspect there won't be a single person in the audience that can't relate to the experiences of the Browning family as they live out their annual summer vacation," Harrell said. "Leaving Iowa will keep our audiences laughing and remembering all of the childhood vacations they've tried so hard to forget.

Leaving Iowa was nominated Best New Play by the American Theatre Critics Association. In Regent University's production, third-year MFA Acting student Sean Cowan performs his thesis role.

Performances continue Sept. 23-26.

Purchase tickets online.

September 14, 2010

Leaving Iowa Opens This Weekend!

Take a road trip with the Browning family in the new comedy hailed by the Chicago Sun-Times as "simultaneously hilarious and touching." This nostalgic look at family vacations will remind you of a time when we all asked that plaguing question . . . "Are we there yet."

Here are some thoughts from Director, Eric Harrell:

Surely there is a therapist out there who specializes in PTVD: post-traumatic vacation disorder. It’s the ailment that leaves families everywhere emotionally scarred and physically debilitated following the annual summer vacation.

For the most part, my family was spared PTVD. Every July my father navigated the family station wagon to sites my brother and I typically found interesting. There was the trip to the Grand Canyon, the Key West excursion and even Disneyland in fourth grade. But then came 1986: the sesquicentennial of Texas.

To help wish our home state a happy 150th birthday, my dad decided we would vacation stateside that year. The plan? Follow the historical markers and let history be our guide! I discovered rather quickly that water parks and video arcades do not have historical markers. Places like Washington-on-the-Brazos are rife with them.

In our quest to honor the history of our great state, we left no historical marker unvisited. There was Raven Hill (the plantation home of General Sam Houston), the Davis Mill (the first stone mill in Bell County with a carding machine) and the Lampasas River Bridge (a rare surviving example of a Whipple Truss!). It was the longest three weeks of my life. I can still feel my thighs sticking to the vinyl seats of our wood-paneled station wagon. I can still see the coarse stitching running through the middle of the back seat that served as the Great Wall of China between my feuding brother and me. And yes, I can still see (and smell) the many public bathrooms at all those remote gas stations in the middle of nowhere. Were it not for the motel swimming pools, picnics at state parks and the magnetized checker board we played in the car, I think the Texas sesquicentennial would likely have been my undoing.

But I did survive. And the next year my dad flew us all to Cancun.

I guess you made it through your family vacations as well or you wouldn’t be here tonight. And I suspect as you relive those memories alongside the Browning family in Leaving Iowa you may find they’re less bitter in hindsight. In fact, you may remember them as fondly as I’ve come to remember the Texas sesquicentennial. Though if anyone knows a good therapist specializing in PTVD, my kids may be interested. We vacationed in Texas this year. There was a rare example of a surviving Whipple Truss I just had to show them.

Enjoy the show!
 - Eric Harrell

Performances of Leaving Iowa are in the Studio Theater:

September 17th & 18th and 23rd-25th at 8:00 p.m.

September 18th & 19th and 25th & 26th at 3:00 p.m.

To purchase tickets, call 352.4245 or visit the Box Office during office hours, Monday-Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. For further information or to purchase tickets online, visit us at www.regent.edu/theatre.

September 8, 2010

Regent Featured in Southern Theatre Magazine!

Regent University’s Theatre program was recently featured on the cover of Southern Theatre magazine! 2010 MFA graduate Rob Arbaugh is pictured in his role as "Orlando" from last fall’s production of As You Like It, directed by Scott Hayes. The article by Deanna Thompson, editor of Southern Theatre, is called “Social Media Onstage: Romeo and Juliet Are on Facebook, Orlando Sends Tweets”.

Rob Arbaugh as "Orlando"
Highlighting the current trend of incorporating social media onstage, the article explores the relationship between play production and marketing. Quoting Scott Hayes, it explains how after hearing about a church which sent text messages of Bible verses during a sermon, he “immediately thought of the potential for theatre – using Twitter, ‘footnotes’ could be sent directly to the viewer in real time.” He adds, “We didn’t change Shakespeare’s verse, language or structure, but in addition to Twitter, we incorporated contemporary music, live video, Guitar Hero and other 21st century communication tools.” To read the whole article, click on the link to Southern Theatre magazine, below.



Summer C.A.M.P.'s The Wiz
Regent’s Summer C.A.M.P. production of The Wiz, directed by 2010 MFA graduate Ryan Clemens, continued the trend of incorporating social media and contemporary technological elements in production. In this high-tech production, Dorothy used a GPS to navigate through Oz, her Facebook page was displayed on a projection screen and the “iPoz” dancers welcomed her into the Emerald City. Quoting from Ryan’s director’s notes, “In our modern world – our multicultural, mixed-media, global community – teens find refuge in technology. Really, Dorothy wouldn’t require a cyclone to whisk her away. She could simply open her laptop, switch on her cell phone, or plug into her iPod to escape. With this ‘modern’ reality in mind, I looked for fun ways to update The Wiz for a contemporary Dorothy, keeping the show’s funky, soulful flavor while easing Oz into our digital age.”

Regent Theatre continues to rise to the challenge of presenting relevant material to both traditional and more contemporary audiences. Returning to Scott Hayes’ concept of As You Like It, he explains, "The play is about transformation. 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."


September 3, 2010

Regent Students Active in Summer Theater

Many of our current students and recent graduates were very busy this summer working in theaters around the country. Here’s a sampling of what some of them were up to!

Hannah Hughes, (3rd year MFA), spent this past summer in the Apprentice Program at the acclaimed Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, MA. To read more about her experiences, check out her blog!
Hannah's Journey Through the Berkshires

Rob Arbaugh and Ryan Clemens, MFA ‘10, appeared at the well-known Virginia Shakespeare Festival in Williamsburg. Ryan played Duke Frederick in As You Like It, and Rob reprised his role of Orlando in As You Like It, and also appeared as Roper in Man for All Seasons.

Andrew (AJ) Lease (1st Year MFA) spent the summer interning on Broadway with The Nederlander Producing Company of America. AJ created a small archive for the company and worked in the office. At night, AJ worked in 9 lobbies on Broadway signing people up for a free rewards program. He also worked at the National High School Musical Theater Awards and The National Boy Scout Jamboree in Times Square. AJ met some amazing people including: Kathleen Raitt (Producer of THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL and THE CIVIL WAR), Tommy Tune, Paul Gordon (The Composer of JANE EYRE: THE MUSICAL), Frank Wildhorn (Composer of THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL), Levi Kreis (2010 Tony Award Winner for Best Featured Actor in a Musical), Thelma Pollard (The Phantom's personal make-up designer and longest running make-up artist on Broadway), and James Moye (Currently in MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET.)

Jeff Fazakerley (2nd year MFA) performed The Wreck of the Dictator, a half hour long, one-man show at the beach front all summer. You can read more about his experience by clicking the following link.
The Incomplete Works of Jeff Fazakerley

Diana Coates (2nd year MFA) worked with the African Continuum Theatre Company of Washington D.C. and award winning author Pearl Cleage to bring some of Mrs. Cleage's most famous plays back to the stage including Blues For An Alabama Sky, Bourbon at the Border, and Flyin West. Teaming up with the DC Theatre Festival, she also performed in the original work, Harlem 9/11, a play that highlighted one family's struggles during the aftermath of September 11th. Diana finished her summer writing and directing a show for her church's youth conference where nine young people trusted the Lord as their Savior.

Early in the summer, Brandon Langeland’s (M.A.) original adaptation of The Scarlet Letter was performed on Regent’s campus. The show was directed by Chad Gilliland (3rd year MFA) and the cast included Whitney Rappana (2nd year MFA), Chris Bookless (1st year MFA) and Margaret Beasley (B.A.)

Andy Geffken, Tabitha Ray, (3rd year MFAs) Amy Dunlap, Britain Willcock (2nd year MFAs) and Chris Bookless, (1st year MFA) together with ’10 MFA graduate Kaja Dunn put together a six-person adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The show was directed by our own Shakespeare professor, Scott Hayes. The cast referred the project as the “Blair Witch” Macbeth, as the production made innovative use of the limitations of the library auditorium and very low technical elements to encourage the audience’s imagination.

Regent’s 2010 Summer Theatre C.A.M.P.s provided valuable directing and teaching experiences for many of our students and alumni. Ryan Clemens (MFA ‘10) directed The Wiz. Mike Salsbury (2nd year MFA) directed Mulan, Jr. and music directed The Wiz, joined by Nathan Schmidt (3rd year MFA) on piano. Amy Dunlap (2nd year MFA) choreographed and taught dance classes for both productions. Whitney Rappana acted as music director for Mulan Jr., and played Evilene as the mentor actor in The Wiz. Anna Koehler (MFA ‘10) taught improvisation, Andy Geffken (3rd year MFA) and Jeff Fazakerley (2nd year MFA) taught acting, Chad Rasor (MFA ’10) taught stage combat and headed up set construction. Tabitha Ray (3rd year MFA) assistant directed The Wiz and helped with stage combat, Britain Willcock (2nd year MFA) worked on set construction, and Beka James (B.A.) was choreography intern for The Wiz. Brad Archer (MFA ‘10) and Jared O’Dell (B.A.) stage-managed, and Tianna Yentzer (B.A.) assistant stage managed.

The following link is to a Virginia Pilot article about the process of producing The Wiz.
Yellow Brick Road Comes Our Way

Gene Gray (3rd year MFA) apprenticed at The Shakespeare Company of New Jersey.

Gene describes his apprenticeship as a “life changing experience.” Continue reading for Gene’s personal reflections!

“I was a part of the 2010 Summer Professional Training Program which also involved interns, the next stage ensemble, the junior/senior corps, and Shakespeare Live! For 11 weeks, I was surrounded by 25 other apprentices from all over the country and ranging from ages 19 to 32. Our classes consisted of acting Shakespeare, Catherine Fitzmaurice voice training, Viewpoints contemporary movement training, Laban movement training, unarmed and single sword rapier combat, Shakespeare’s play reading, textual analysis, Sunday seminars, and Master Classes. My favorite classes were Fitzmaurice and Viewpoints. I plan to use both of these techniques as warm-ups and part of my thesis research for my role of “Toby Felker” in The Runner Stumbles this coming January.
We had many projects that we rehearsed and performed in front of the company, family, and friends. In 11 weeks, the entire SPTP and Equity Main Stage produced four main stage productions and 14 SPTP projects. I don’t know of any program that pumps out that many non-equity projects during the summer. Many of the projects include: Shakespeare Scenes, Classical Scenes, adaptations of four Shakespeare plays, three adaptations of classical plays, a late-night cabaret, and the SPTP final project- Coriolanus.
My favorite part of the entire experience was meeting all the equity and non-equity actors and taking some of them home by driving the actor’s van to NYC. I drove the van from Madison, NJ to 42nd street in the “Big Apple” a few nights a week. I was able to introduce myself to many actors by asking them about their beginnings in the theatre, how they got started, and any suggestions for up-and-coming non-equity actors. I never saw myself living in NYC, but now I see it as a possibility.
I would recommend any B.A., M.A., or MFA to partake in Shakespeare Theatre of NJ’s SPTP program. It is very long, very daunting, very busy, but it will be worth it in the long run. You’ll make lots of friends and have the possibility to make a strong connection to a major professional theatre company. I know I did, and I hope to return there and work as a non-equity actor.”

- Gene Gray (3rd year MFA Acting student)

August 26, 2010

Tony Hale brings insight and encouragement

Recently, our theater community was visited by alumnus actor Tony Hale '95 (Com/Arts). Tony is perhaps best known for his role as Buster Bluth on Arrested Development, but he’s also appeared in the movies Because I Said So, RV, Stranger than Fiction and The Tale of Despereaux. His upcoming projects include the movies Happythankyoumoreplease and Not That Funny, as well as an ABC pilot titled Awkward Situations for Men.
Despite his impressive Hollywood resume, Tony came across as very down-to-earth and honest, willing to share his personal stories and to invest in the lives of current Regent students. During a question-and-answer session, Hale shared his own experiences with the ups and downs of the audition process, and the inevitable rejection that accompanies the life of any actor. "It's very difficult not to take it personally," he told the audience. "It's gonna be a roller coaster. It might not end up how you think it's going to end up, but it's going to be okay."

Several fortunate students were given the opportunity to set up one-on-one coaching sessions, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Here’s what some of our students had to say about Tony:

“I’m thankful Tony took the time to speak with each of us - it was an absolute pleasure. He also specifically addressed the conundrum of being Actors who are Christians without being Christian-Actors. This is my first time ever on a Christian campus and I'm finding the juxtaposition of our faith and our field an interesting one. A lot of us needed to hear that acting / performing is messy and dirty; it just is - and that to present the truth, we can't be afraid of that.” - Ashley Manning, first year MFA

“Tony’s insight and encouragement was invaluable!” - Michael McLendon, first year MFA

“I appreciated Tony’s candor and caution concerning Hollywood’s tendency to make empty promises and his advice to make sure your agent really knows you.”
Emily Fazakerley – Regent University Employee

“Tony is proof that it's possible to make it in this business while maintaining integrity, discernment, and humility.” - Katie Fridsma, MFA graduate

We look forward to having Tony visit us again in the future!

July 27, 2010

Recent MFA Grad Wows Williamsburg


Rob Arbaugh, MFA class of 2010, has spent his summer thus far in Williamsburg at the well-known Virginia Shakespeare Festival, playing Orlando in As You Like It, and Roper in Man for All Seasons.

Click here and here for two reviews about his work in As You Like It.

There's still one more weekend to catch Rob in Man for All Seasons, running through August 1st. Click here for show and ticket information!

May 12, 2010

Godspell gets a rave review from Veer Magazine


Click here to read the review of our 2009/2010 Season closer!

April 13, 2010

Don't miss Godspell!


Regent Theatre is capping off our 2009/2010 season with an exciting, innovative production of Godspell, directed by the Theatre Department Chair, Eric Harrell. Read his Director's Notes below for a sneak peek into our upcoming production. The show runs April 23-May 2. Remember that during the first weekend, we're offering a special price of $10 a ticket for church groups of 10 people for more. Call the box office for tickets or more information: 757-352-4245. See you at the theatre!

"Whether you are a Godspell enthusiast or a first-timer, there is one thing we all have in common: this is the first time you’ve seen Godspell told quite like this. But that is, after all, one of the most compelling aspects of this show – every production is entirely unique. The creators of Godspell give full license to each company to make their own creative mark on the piece. I’ve heard of Godspell productions developed around popular TV shows and even one set in a McDonalds! Sorry folks, no American Idol or Quarter Pounders here tonight.
 
During my directing research, I was struck by two things that inspired the writing team of Godspell. The first was their desire to illuminate the inherent joy in the Gospel story, reminding audiences that the discipleship of Christ was not meant to create a dour life but one of joyous redemption. The second was the power of Christ’s teachings to unify disparate individuals into a fully functioning community of believers. As I focused on these two elements, I arrived in the world of our production: a global playscape, a joyous world where the discipleship of Christ builds trans-ethnic community.
 
As each company member represents a unique, international culture, they explore the teachings of Christ through a multi-cultural lens: African tribal dance, Indian Shadow Theatre, the Noh Theatre of Japan, Native American folklore, even vaudeville and sketch comedy. Parts of the opening number have been translated into seven different languages. The result is a testament to the power of Christ’s teachings to transcend cultural and racial boundaries. However, transcending ethnicity does not negate our unique cultural heritages; in fact, the body of Christ is enriched as the teachings of Jesus are applied through multi-cultural understanding and respect for our inherent differences. By the beginning of Act Two our company has learned this important lesson, and they unify their storytelling to unfold a simple yet stirring interpretation of the Passion narrative.
 
As a Christian artist and story-teller, the parables of Christ have been foundational in my both my faith and artistry. Having the opportunity to explore them in a new way for our production of Godspell has been a rewarding journey. I pray you rediscover the joy of the Gospel story - and the power of the master storyteller."

April 5, 2010

Blog Reflection on Original Work, "Disorientation of Butterflies"

As part of what we call our Secondstage Season, the Regent Theatre Department has several openings each semester for a lab show--a production entirely put on by the students. (For more information about lab shows, click here!) Our most recent lab show was the original full-length musical "Disorientation of Butterflies," written by 3rd year MFA Acting student Alaska Reece Vance, composed by 2nd year MFA Acting student Nathan Schmidt, and directed by 1st year MFA Acting student Whitney Rappana. The cast was made up of several MFA and BA students, as well as a graduated MFA Acting student and an incoming MFA in Acting student. Click here to read a reflection on the show from a theological perspective, written by Regent's own academic advisor, Michael Difuccia.

March 18, 2010

Harmony Meets Hurricane of Personalities in You Can't Take It With You

By Sarah H. Dolan

Home d├ęcor speaks volumes about the personal lives of those who inhabit the home. Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff's home, as portrayed through the set of Regent University Theatre's production of You Can't Take It With You, is eccentric, vibrant and quirky. Bright green walls are full of mismatched photographs, a deer head and gun. Romantic play scripts flower the living room, and snakes inhabit the room's corner comfortably next to the family xylophone.

It is there that the radically diverse Vanderhoff family lives and functions as one disheveled unit. Residing with Grandpa is his daughter Penelope Sycamore, a happy, unpublished playwright; her husband Paul, whose hobby is making fireworks in the cellar; their daughter Essie, a ballerina with two left feet who is married to Ed, a printer who plays the xylophone; and their other daughter Alice, a Wall Street secretary.

"These characters in the play—a family of lovable, innocent, but wacky nonconformists—are joyous examples of faith," said MFA Student Ryan Clemens, the director. "[Teaching life lessons] in a Frank Capra comedic sort of way. They live, they love and they laugh. They thank God for family, health, and all the fun one can find in life!"

Yet the family's idea of normalcy is challenged when Alice is betrothed to Tony Kirby, a businessman from a straight-laced family. When the Kirby and Vanderhoff families collide, the resulting chaos creates a near-literal hurricane of eccentric personalities with Alice and Tony caught in the middle. To worsen the situation, other offbeat characters are introduced to the household as the play unfolds.

"We've had particular fun finding the right balance of silly truthfulness with this cast of characters," Clemens said. "Included among our lovable lot of personalities are a boisterous Russian immigrant and a gin-soaked dramatist ... just to name a few. In Regent's casting quest to find that balance of lunacy and veracity, we created 'The Farm Fresh [grocery store] test.' In other words, 'if you saw one of these characters at Farm Fresh buying cereal, would you believe they were real?'"

Regent's rendition of You Can't Take It With You uses the artistically expressed merriment of the Vanderhoff family to illustrate individuals coming together to form community. The result is a loud mix of song, dance, poetry, painting and fireworks—all at once. But when the dust settles the audience sees a harmony and beauty in this kind of lifestyle, which Grandpa notes is easy to forget.

The production continues Thursday, March 18 - Saturday, March 20 at 8:00 p.m., and Saturday, March 20 - Sunday, March 21 at 3:00 p.m.

For tickets and more information, visit www.regent.edu/theatre.

March 12, 2010

Director's Notes for You Can't Take It With You!


For our production of Kaufman and Hart's popular comedy, You Can't Take It With You, we welcome third-year MFA in Acting student Ryan Clemens as our student director. Ryan is in the direction concentration of our MFA Acting program and has been seen on our mainstage playing Petkoff in Arms and the Man, Strauss in Spinning Into Butter, O’Reilly in Musical Comedy Murders, Mrs. Chauvenet in Harvey, Arnold in The Boys Next Door (thesis role), and most recently as Touchstone the clown in As You Like It. A true connoisseur of comedy, here are Ryan's notes about his production of You Can't Take It With You, opening this weekend:

"The old saying is true: you never see a U-Haul behind a hearse because. . . you can’t take it with you!

Yet our play’s title is more than a punch line. It’s a bit of age-old advice to put in your pocket and take home.

Some take the sentiment as a justification for hedonism, indulgence and greed—as in the remark, 'Well, you can’t take it with you, so let’s spend it all and PARTY!' but through Kaufmann and Hart’s classic comedy we see the motto 'You Can’t Take It With You' as something very different. When first produced in 1936, the play and its title projected a heart-felt optimism, calling out to a nation worn down by the Great Depression. Now that we’re in 2010, with our current economic situation. . . well, it turns out that heart-felt optimism is still particularly relevant.

From a Christian perspective, we also note that the message is rather similar to Paul’s in his first letter to Timothy: a reminder that we brought nothing into this world; we can take nothing out of it. So, as long as we have food and shelter, shouldn’t we also have joy, laughter and celebration? Shouldn’t we also have prayers of thanks to the Man Upstairs, the Keeper of the Lilies of the Field, the Giver of All Good Things?!

We hope that, like Grandpa Vanderhof, you’ll also find joy, laughter, celebration, and lots of reason for praise—both in today’s presentation and in your own life. From our loony and loving family to yours, we say, enjoy!"

Don't miss this show, which runs through March 21st! Call the box office at 757-352-4245 or visit our website for tickets.

February 26, 2010

Recruiting for our MFA Program in CA and at SETC this week!

This Saturday, Head of the MFA program Dr. Michael Kirkland will be at Vanguard University in Los Angeles auditioning actors for our incoming MFA program.

Next, Michael--along with our Artist in Residence Mark Paladini and Professor Scott Hayes--will be at SETC in Lexington, KY March 5-6 auditioning actors from all over the country for our next MFA Acting class.

If you're planning to be in SETC or Los Angeles this week--or know some actors who are--make sure you/they stop by and chat with our professors!

Also, check out our professors' workshops/presentations at SETC on Thursday, March 4:
-Noon-1pm: Scott Hayes will be presenting on his innovative directing concept involving twitter and other current technology for our recent production of As You Like It.
-4:00-5:30pm: Michael and Mark will be talking about being a Christian in the arts.
-8:30-9:30pm: Mark is teaching a workshop on physical comedy
-Also, keep your eyes peeled for Dr. Kirkland's stage combat workshops!

There are 3 remaining locations for our MFA auditions:
Feb. 27, 2010 –Vanguard University, Los Angeles, CA
March 5-6, 2010 – SETC Spring Convention, Lexington, KY
March 12, 2010 –Preview Weekend, Regent Univ., Virginia Beach, VA

To schedule an audition at any of these sites, contact Jennifer Martin at 757-352-4228 or email auditions@regent.edu.

What’s it like to audition for Regent’s MFA in Acting program? We like to think we have an edge up on other auditions. When asking some current students to describe what their audition experience for Regent was like, we got an overwhelming response! Read on!

“I can tell you that the reason I chose Regent was in large part because of my audition experience. I auditioned for a number of MFA programs, but in the Regent audition I met someone unique: a faculty member who took an honest interest in me and my ambitions. It was that genuine kindness and connection that got me thinking about Regent, and its that same spirit that has made my years here extraordinary.” –Ryan Clemens, 3rd year MFA student

“My audition for Eric Harrell in Chicago was the only grad school audition where I walked in and felt completely comfortable. Upon walking through the door, I immediately knew that Regent was a school where the professors both cared about their students and wanted them to excel. The rest of that audition and my three years at Regent have proved that theory to be true.” -Rob Arbaugh, 3rd year MFA student

“I had never heard of Regent before, but when I was in Chicago for the URTAs and noticed Regent was auditioning in the same hotel, I was immediately impressed by Eric's friendliness and warmth. He was very attentive as well as professional. I soon realized that not only was this a high quality program committed to an excellent MFA education, but also that if the rest of the people at this university were anything like Eric, they were real and down-to-earth, and truly cared about you and your future.” -Katie Cheely, 3rd year MFA student

“My audition for Regent was like a breath of fresh air. URTAs had been expensive and stressful. Mark came in to my audition in California, treated me like a human, not a number, and we talked like human beings. I felt like I was doing my audition for someone who already believed in me and what I could do.” -Jeff Fazakerley, 1st year MFA student

“When I came to the Spring Preview Weekend at Regent to audition for the MFA program, I was incredibly nervous! I had little reason to worry though, as the professors were extremely welcoming and friendly. They didn’t just shuffle people through the stereotypical cattle call; they actually took the time to see how I responded to direction, even going so far as to provide me with the opportunity to experiment with stretching my range on one of my selected pieces. They even listened to my story about how God had led me to Regent. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better experience during an audition!” -Zachary L. Bortot, 1st year MFA student

“What I loved about my audition was that the door opened right before I knocked because Eric was expecting me! It was probably one of the most comfortable audition experiences because I didn't feel like I was being put under a microscope; instead it was one person genuinely getting to know me through my creative talents.” -Anna Koehler, 3rd year MFA student

“I auditioned for Regent in Chicago last year, and what was scheduled to have been a twenty-minute appointment morphed into an hour-and-fifteen-minutes, as Eric graciously talked with me through his own scheduled lunch hour. My first surprise came when he actually took time to work my audition piece, not once but two or three times, to document not only my current capabilities but my ability to take direction. Our conversation remained customized to my personal goals and ambitions as an older, non-traditional student, and Eric answered my many questions and concerns with care, understanding, and an obviously thorough regard for what Regent would and would not offer me personally.” -Mike Salsbury, 1st year MFA student

“Right from the start I knew that auditioning for Regent University was different than any other institution. The process was comfortable, I felt like they truly cared about my audition, and Prof. Harrell seemed so incredibly passionate about Regent's unique mission that it instantly made me want to be a part of it. Once I was accepted I have never looked back. Regent University's MFA program is incredibly well-rounded and challenges you to live up to your highest potential as a theatre artist. The professors here truly care about each individual from the moment they audition to far beyond graduation.” –Britain Willcock, 1st year MFA student

February 12, 2010

Reflections from the Cast of "The Elephant Man"


“One thing I learned from John Merrick was how his experience of pain generated in him an incredible desire for something transcendental. St. Phillip’s is a symbol of eternal beauty, and heaven is where the crooked shall be made straight. There is a spiritual blessing in playing Merrick in that I am reminded of my own complacency. If somehow the deep cry of 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven' is no longer in me, I am in danger of not living life as it is intended to be.” -Shinn-Rong Chung, 3rd year MFA student (John Merrick, thesis role).

“I feel very blessed to have been a part of such a wonderful and memorable production. I think we all were very disappointed to have to end the show early due to the snow storm. I heard from many people that they thought Elephant Man was perhaps one of the best shows Regent has ever done--high praise indeed. Everyone in the cast was so talented and suited to their parts. As a Pinhead and Nurse Sandwich, I got to explore two very different characters. The challenge was fun and exciting. On the one hand I got to experience a completely child-like side, which was a lot of fun. Then as Nurse Sandwich I had to become a stern, no-nonsense rock of a woman. The challenge added to the excitement. And I loved having to do quick-changes. During our final dress rehearsal I forgot to take my pin-head shoes off (which happened to be ballet toe shoes) when I went on as Nurse Sandwich. I wondered as I ran to my place why my skirt was feeling longer than normal. I didn't realize till I was entering in the dark, 'I've still got my toe shoes on!' I quickly debated whether it was better to wear toe shoes, or no shoes. I decided toe shoes. After that I was reminded each day by the ladies in my dressing room to change my shoes! All-in-all… The Elephant Man is one show I won't soon forget.” -Sharon Eyster, 2nd year MFA student (Nurse Sandwich and Pinhead)

“Working on Elephant Man was an amazing experience. Every moment of the rehearsal process, I felt like I was in the presence of master craftsmen - highly focused, intent on every detail, and determined to produce a polished jewel of a production. It was such a privilege to work with Dr. Kirkland, and to support Shinn and Brad in their thesis roles. As I journeyed with Mrs. Kendal on her path from external facade to internal truth, I also made discoveries about my own truth as an actor, and about how genuine human connection onstage can touch an audience like nothing else can.” –Amy Dunlap, 1st year MFA student (Mrs. Kendal)

“Working on The Elephant Man was a particularly thought-provoking experience. The process of building these characters to most effectively convey the message of this piece took a great deal of focus and patience. Dr. Kirkland's commitment to precision was complimented by Shinn and Brad's diligence in their leading roles as well as the work of the supporting cast. The overwhelmingly positive response from the few audiences that saw our show made the weeks of tireless rehearsing all worth it. It was one of the most complete shows I've been a part of.” –Andy Geffken, 2nd year MFA student (Carr Gomm)

January 26, 2010

Regent MFA Auditions in Chicago This Weekend!

This weekend, Department Chair Eric Harrell will be in Chicago auditioning actors from all over the country for our next MFA Acting class. If you're planning to be in Chicago this weekend or know some actors who are, make sure you/they stop by and chat with Eric! There are 4 remaining locations for our MFA auditions:

Jan 31-Feb 1, 2010 – Midwest Auditions, Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL
Feb. 27, 2010 –Vanguard University, Los Angeles, CA
March 5-6
, 2010 – SETC Spring Convention, Lexington, KY
March 12
, 2010 –Preview Weekend, Regent Univ., Virginia Beach, VA

To schedule an audition at any of these sites, contact Jennifer Jackson at 757-352-4228 or email auditions@regent.edu.

What’s it like to audition for Regent’s MFA in Acting program? We like to think we have an edge up on other auditions. When asking some current students to describe what their audition experience for Regent was like, we got an overwhelming response! Read on!

“I can tell you that the reason I chose Regent was in large part because of my audition experience. I auditioned for a number of MFA programs, but in the Regent audition I met someone unique: a faculty member who took an honest interest in me and my ambitions. It was that genuine kindness and connection that got me thinking about Regent, and its that same spirit that has made my years here extraordinary.” –Ryan Clemens, 3rd year MFA student

“My audition for Eric Harrell in Chicago was the only grad school audition where I walked in and felt completely comfortable. Upon walking through the door, I immediately knew that Regent was a school where the professors both cared about their students and wanted them to excel. The rest of that audition and my three years at Regent have proved that theory to be true.” -Rob Arbaugh, 3rd year MFA student

“I had never heard of Regent before, but when I was in Chicago for the URTAs and noticed Regent was auditioning in the same hotel, I was immediately impressed by Eric's friendliness and warmth. He was very attentive as well as professional. I soon realized that not only was this a high quality program committed to an excellent MFA education, but also that if the rest of the people at this university were anything like Eric, they were real and down-to-earth, and truly cared about you and your future.” -Katie Cheely, 3rd year MFA student

“My audition for Regent was like a breath of fresh air. URTAs had been expensive and stressful. Mark came in to my audition in California, treated me like a human, not a number, and we talked like human beings. I felt like I was doing my audition for someone who already believed in me and what I could do.” -Jeff Fazakerley, 1st year MFA student

“When I came to the Spring Preview Weekend at Regent to audition for the MFA program, I was incredibly nervous! I had little reason to worry though, as the professors were extremely welcoming and friendly. They didn’t just shuffle people through the stereotypical cattle call; they actually took the time to see how I responded to direction, even going so far as to provide me with the opportunity to experiment with stretching my range on one of my selected pieces. They even listened to my story about how God had led me to Regent. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better experience during an audition!” -Zachary L. Bortot, 1st year MFA student

“What I loved about my audition was that the door opened right before I knocked because Eric was expecting me! It was probably one of the most comfortable audition experiences because I didn't feel like I was being put under a microscope; instead it was one person genuinely getting to know me through my creative talents.” -Anna Koehler, 3rd year MFA student

“I auditioned for Regent in Chicago last year, and what was scheduled to have been a twenty-minute appointment morphed into an hour-and-fifteen-minutes, as Eric graciously talked with me through his own scheduled lunch hour. My first surprise came when he actually took time to work my audition piece, not once but two or three times, to document not only my current capabilities but my ability to take direction. Our conversation remained customized to my personal goals and ambitions as an older, non-traditional student, and Eric answered my many questions and concerns with care, understanding, and an obviously thorough regard for what Regent would and would not offer me personally.” -Mike Salsbury, 1st year MFA student

“Right from the start I knew that auditioning for Regent University was different than any other institution. The process was comfortable, I felt like they truly cared about my audition, and Prof. Harrell seemed so incredibly passionate about Regent's unique mission that it instantly made me want to be a part of it. Once I was accepted I have never looked back. Regent University's MFA program is incredibly well-rounded and challenges you to live up to your highest potential as a theatre artist. The professors here truly care about each individual from the moment they audition to far beyond graduation.” –Britain Willcock, 1st year MFA student