September 7, 2011

What We Did This Summer!

We're back in school now, but Theatre Artists don't take summers off! Check out what our students and faculty were up to this summer!

Whitney Rappana, Jared O'Dell, Ashley Manning and
Michael Hill-Kirkland in Blackbeard and Calico Jack

Dr. Michael Hill-Kirkland wrote, produced and appeared in an original pirate show at the Oceanfront called Blackbeard and Calico Jack. The show also featured Ashley Manning (MFA), Whitney Rappana (MFA) and Jared O’Dell (B.A.)

Scott Hayes appeared at the Oceanfront in the historical presentation Naval Airpower Legacy. The show was produced and directed by adjunct professor Derek Leonidoff, assisted by Sarah Grice (B.A.)

MFAs Andy Geffken, Tabitha Ray, Zachary Bortot, Amy Dunlap, Britain Willcock, Chris Bookless, Diana Coates, Marji Peters, Kristi Meyers, Ashley Manning, Jeff Fazakerley, Chad Rasor, Nathan Schmidt, and B.A.s Stephanie Graybill, Jared O’Dell and Alicia LeBlanc presented a Regent Shakespeare Company production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Scott Hayes.

West Side Story

The Regent Summer C.A.M.P.’s production of Suessical, Jr. was directed by alumna Kaja Dunn with music direction by MFA Alicia Bonham. West Side Story was directed by alumna Hannah Hughes with music direction by MFA Whitney Rappana. B.A. Beka James choreographed both productions. Tianna Yentzer and Courtney Conger stage managed. Ashley Manning , Ash Ragghianti, Nathan Schmidt, Zach Bortot and Britain Willcock all served as instructors. Dave Foster was the Scenic Designer and Technical Director for both camp productions.

Seussical, Jr.!

Derek and Jennifer Martin toured productions of And Sarah Laughed and Private Lives to Massachusetts as part of their Americana Theatre Company. The casts also featured alums Andy Geffken and Hannah Hughes.

MFA Britain Willcock attended the National Stage Combat Workshop and achieved Advanced Actor Combatant Status while also winning the National Award for "Best Scene."

Brad Archer, Marji Peters, Chad Rasor

Marji Peters and Rochelle Cheeks Archer

Katie Fridsma

MFA Alums Alaska Reese Vance and Nathan Schmidt took their original musical The Disorientation of Butterflies to the New York International Fringe Festival where the production ran for two weeks. The cast included a mix of current students and alumni: Brad Archer, Rochelle Cheeks Archer, Katie Fridsma, Beth Litwak, Marji Peters and Chad Rasor. Alaska Reese Vance received the Festival's 2011 Excellence in Directing Award. Congratulations, Alaska!

Zachary Bortot (MFA) worked on fight direction for the Reno Little Theater production of Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure.

C.J. Hill as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd

Costume Shop Manager C.J. Hill played Mrs. Lovett in the Theatrrix production of Sweeney Todd. Mike Salsbury (MFA) played Judge Turpin and Micaela DeLauro (MFA) was in the chorus.

Diana Coates (MFA) partnered with the Virginia Stage Company to develop a five week theatre camp for the Achievable Dream Academy in Newport News. Over sixty students participated in the various workshops and rehearsals and final performance. She continued her efforts of raising support for the Miracle Mansion Project, a theatre and entertainment complex set to open in 2014.

Hal Prince with MFA A.J. Lease

MFA Andrew (A.J.) Lease met famed producer/director Hal Prince (Sweeney Todd, Fiddler on the Roof and West Side Story.) Below is a sample of the interview…

AJ: What is the most important musical of all time?

Hal Prince: has the most important book since Sallinger wrote his novels...

AJ: What is the best musical of the last decade?

Hal Prince: The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown

AJ: Who is the best composer out there today?

Hal Prince: Jason Robert Brown

AJ: Finally, what would a short list of musicals be for undergraduate students to be familiar with before they graduate?

Hal Prince: Mostly...the classics- Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, My Fair Lady, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Gypsy, Fiddler on the Roof, and Sweeney Todd...I say that instead of Company (the most important) because Company was a concept musical after all.

Michael Mclendon (MFA) and Marji Peters (MFA) taught a Shakespeare workshop at Princess Anne Middle School. Michael was also the editing teacher for Regent's Film C.A.M.P.

Mike Salsbury (MFA) played a blind rabbi in the Endowed Student Film, a re-telling of Bernard Malamud's short story "The Silver Crown."

Erin Fossa (MA) performed at the Mystery Dinner Playhouse Theatre here in Virginia Beach.

Marilyn Schappacher (M.A.) with Dancing Waters Drama Group in The Blessing Tree and with Chamberlayne Actor’s Theatre (CAT) in Pirates of the Chemotherapy. Her cast was nominated for the Best Ensemble Award for the Richmond Theatre Awards, the Artsies.

Sarah Brierly (B.A.) spent six weeks working at Ligonier Camp and Conference Center as a counselor in training (CIT) and assisting in both the theatre activities as well as working in the kitchen. For the remainder of the summer she helped a local production of Wizard of Oz.

Matt and Tiana Downey started a new theatre company called The little BIG Theatre Company. They produced their first performance Runaway Cinderella. The company seeks to change the way people look at faith-based Christian theatre and seeks to change the community for the arts. They are currently preparing for the next show, William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, directed by recent MFA grad, Chad Gilliland. Runaway Cinderella also featured Mike Salsbury (MFA), Kristi Meyers (MFA), Diana Coates (MFA), Alicia LeBlanc (B.A.), Margaret Beasley (B.A.) and Dan McGary (B.A.) and was Stage Managed by Tianna Yentzer (B.A.).

Andrew Schappacher (B.A.) participated in Ballet Magnificat’s four-week dance intensive in Jackson, Mississippi.

Rachel Migliore (B.A.) spent her summer interning at Airmid Theatre Company, a professional theatre located on Long Island that is dedicated to bringing classic plays written by women back to the stage. She performed in a production of Jack and the Princess Who Never Laughed, and managed wardrobe for the world premiere of A Little Betrayal Among Friends.

Debbie Wright (B.A.) directed Disney's Beauty and the Beast for a local Richmond children's theatre group, Alpha Theatre and Arts Company. She also worked with a student-run theatre guild (Thursdaenite Players) to produce Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in which she directed and played Lady Montague.

Check back often to see what Regent Theater is up to next!

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