November 16, 2012

Behind the Scenes of Handel's MESSIAH

Joyful Noise runs Nov. 16-18 and Nov. 29—Dec. 2.

By Rachel Bender
November 15, 2012

"A beautiful and moving journey with a gorgeous score of truly divine music." That is how guest director Ailish Riggs describes the upcoming production of Joyful Noise, set to open on the Regent University stage on Friday, Nov. 16.

The off-Broadway hit exposes the backstage drama surrounding the creation of Handel's Messiah. This true story reveals how the composer's masterpiece of redemption was born in the midst of jealousy, opposition and sabotage.

Generally, theatre productions at Regent are directed by university faculty; however, the opportunity to work with a guest director allows Regent theatre students to take a new approach to their roles in the show.

"Our students have been blessed by her unique perspective in the classroom and the rehearsal," said Scott Hayes, chair of the Theatre Department. "I believe we've been able to bless her as well by providing a faith-friendly and professionally minded workplace and student body for her to direct and teach."

Riggs' directing work comes to a production she hopes will get audiences in the holiday spirit while also asking them to pause and consider their own faith.

"It is a wonderful combination of drama and humor that allows us to witness the joy and sorrow of the human experience," Riggs explained. "[It] beautifully illustrates how God's grace is present, even when we have turned away from Him." Riggs is a director, actor and vocal coach currently on the faculty of Old Dominion University. She also serves as dialect coach and artistic mentor for the Emerging Artists Ensemble at the Virginia Stage Company. She graduated from the University of San Francisco with a B.A. in Performing Arts and Social Justice and holds an MFA from the National Theatre Conservatory.

Purchase tickets from the Box Office.

Mindy Hughes, Public Relations
Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

Check out what our Alumni are up to!

Derek Martin (MFA Acting '09) has accepted a position with William Jessup University in Rocklin, CA as a faculty member and the Chair of their new B.A. Creative Arts Program.

Sean Cowan (MFA Acting '11) is currently in West Virginia Shooting Alaska: Ice Cold Killers for The Discovery Channel. The episode is intended to air as the season finale in the New Year.

Anita Reimer (MFA Acting '06) is currently appearing in Lend Me a Tenor at the Metro Theatre in Vancouver, BC.

October 26, 2012

Theatre Expert Uses Shakespeare in Prison Ministry

By Amanda Morad

October 24, 2012

In a talkback session before the last showing of Regent University's production of The Tempest, Shakespeare Behind Bars founder, Curt Tofteland discussed the themes of the play with Regent president, Dr. Carlos Campo.

Curt gives direction.
"The Tempest starts with a man consumed with a desire for revenge—what a waste of time," Tofteland said. "Forgiveness is more about the victim, not the victimizer, and that's a theme that resonates with the men we work with."

Shakespeare Behind Bars is a non-profit organization that produces some of Shakespeare's most-beloved masterpieces in prisons with the incarcerated. According to Tofteland, these theatrical encounters create major life changes in the inmates who play the classic characters, helping ensure their successful reintegration into society.

Tofteland leads Shakespeare Behind Bars with 34 years of theatrical experience and a lifetime of adoration for the work of Shakespeare. "The insight he had into the human condition—it's deeper than any other writer I've ever encountered," Tofteland said.

Much of what's to love has to do with Shakespeare's willingness to tackle the most controversial ideas of his day. For The Tempest, President Campo explained, that controversy centered on the wayward flagship of the 1609 Virginia Company voyage that ran aground off the coast of Bermuda. "What made Shakespeare such a contemporary artist was that he wasn't afraid to address really delicate issues, to comment on the events and issues of his day," Tofteland said.

Prison guards look on as Greg prepares to go onstage.

"This play in particular really lends itself to themes that the incarcerated can really chew on," he explained. "We're talking about forgiveness and redemption and territory—that's their world."

Shakespeare's tragedies seem to evoke the most profound changes in the actors he works with, Tofteland continued. "Anger is at the root of dysfunction. Anger is what stands between you and your wish," he said. "Shakespeare Behind Bars is about unpacking and exploring that and really creating a family."

That family helps inmates build trust and have a safe place they can feel unthreatened and valued for what they have to offer. "People ask me why I do this and I tell them it's because I love miracles, and I see miracles every day."

Although Regent's run of The Tempest ended Oct. 21, Joyful Noise opens Nov. 16. Learn more about the 2012-2013 theatre schedule.

October 24, 2012

Congratulations to Cara Jewell (MFA '13) & Brad Brinkley (MFA '15), Irene Ryan Nominees!

Cara Jewell (Prospera) confides in Ashley Dakin (Ariel) in
Regent University's production of The Tempest by William Shakespeare.

Brad Brinkley (Antonio) in Regent University's production
of The Tempest by William Shakespeare.

October 22, 2012

Congratulations to Michael Woods (MFA '08) on his recently released commercial!

Congratulations to Michael Woods (MFA ’08) on the above commercial.   Michael has also appeared in an episode of SHAMELESS, Detroit 187 and Underemployed.

October 18, 2012

Theatre Faculty, Students and Alumni Land Roles on Documentary Series

By Rachel Judy

October 18, 2012

"The most effective mentors and teachers are those who remain practitioners of their craft," said Eric Harrell, associate professor of theatre in Regent University's School of Communication & the Arts. "When we have opportunities to apply what we teach professionally, we are more effective in the classroom."

Watch this clip to find out A Haunting using special effects makeup 
in order to recreate supernatural experiences.  Featuring current Regent MFA students
Brad Brinkley, Ashley Dakin and Chad Stem.

Harrell and fellow professor Dr. Michael Hil-Kirkland recently seized the opportunity to apply their own skills as actors by landing guest roles on the new television documentary series A Haunting. Airing on the Destination America channel, the show is a docudrama about paranormal activity produced in conjunction with New Dominion Pictures in Suffolk, Va.

"As a professional actor and member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), this was a rare opportunity to work on a television project in Hampton Roads," Harrell said. "We live in a largely non-union market so it was wonderful to have a SAG opportunity in our backyard."

"Every time I have the opportunity to engage the profession I walk away with valuable real-world experience I can share with my students," Hill-Kirkland added. "It allows me to better prepare them for the world that awaits them outside the protective environment of the academy."

A Haunting showcases first-person claims of supernatural activity, unraveling the mystery behind these happenings. Each episode showcases real-life tales of haunted houses and, sometimes, even haunted people. 

American Haunting Bloopers featuring Regent faculty: Dr. Michael Hill-Kirkland, 
theatre alumnus: Amy Dunlap and MFA Student: Brad Brinkley.

The genre is a bit unique, but not a complete stretch, for an actor who is a Christian, Harrell explained. "We often think of this genre of entertainment as glorifying the presence of evil. In reality, it is one of the few in the industry that frequently acknowledges the power of Jesus Christ and uses his name reverently to rebuke the powers of evil," he said. 

Hill-Kirkland agreed. "I look upon this role as no different than if I were performing [Shakespeare's] Hamlet," he said. "It's a ghost tale that acknowledges a spiritual dimension exists in our universe that there is, indeed, life after death." 

Harrell's episode will air on the Destination America channel on Friday, Oct. 19. Hill-Kirkland's episode is set to air on Friday, Nov. 2. In addition to their roles, a number of Regent alumni and students appear on screen with small acting roles or as extras. Others landed work behind the cameras on the production crew. 

The Destination America channel is part of Discovery Communications, the world's number one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in 200 countries and territories. 

Learn more about the School of Communication & the Arts' Theatre Dept.

October 15, 2012

Production Reimagines Shakespeare Classic

The Tempest runs Oct. 12-14 and Oct. 19-21. 
Photo courtesy of School of
Communication & the Arts

By Rachel Judy
October 11, 2012

Shakespeare's The Tempest has taken its place among his romantic works, particularly because of the play's quixotic setting—a lush, enchanted island far from the reach of ordinary life. But, as the classic tale comes to life at Regent University, it is not the setting that will take center stage.
"We've re-envisioned some of the traditionally male characters as female; not just asking women to play men but wholly reimagining the relationship dynamics of a mother and daughter, of political alliances between women, and the depth of female friendships," explained Eric Harrell, the play's director and an associate professor in the Theatre Department. "It's been a satisfying, artistic exploration for our company, reframing this classic story and deepening its thematic reach."

Shakespeare's masterpiece traditionally tells the story of Prospero, the former duke of Milan and a sorcerer, who lures his brother and the king to an island in order to exact revenge on them for leaving him and his young daughter stranded on an island. In Regent's production, Prospero has become Prospera.

This approach to The Tempest has become popular in recent years. In the '90s, actress Vanessa Redgrave played the role in an acclaimed production at Shakespeare's Globe. More recently, actress Helen Mirren played Prospera in the 2012 film version directed by Julie Taymor, known for her directing work in the stage version of The Lion King. In addition to reimagining the lead role, Regent has transformed several other characters as well.

While the approach is untraditional, Harrell is quick to point out that the heart of the production remains the same. "One of the reasons The Tempest has long been a favorite of mine is that it has a little bit of everything: romance, mystery, revenge, tragedy, comedy, illusions and an inspiring moral," he explained. "The characters are as complex as the genre. Like each of us, they have the capacity to love and hate, to seek revenge and forgiveness, to be blinded by professional ambition and romantic love, and to merit both judgment and empathy."

On Sunday, Oct. 21, Regent president and literature expert, Dr. Carlos Campo, will lead a pre-show presentation with Curt Tofteland, the founder of Shakespeare Behind Bars. Their discussion will touch on several themes found in the play, among them redemption, slavery, ownership, ruling with integrity and the relationships between characters. The presentation will take place at 1:15 p.m., in the Center for Performing Arts, prior to the final showing of The Tempest.

Purchase Tickets.

October 5, 2012

Sharon Bierman (MFA '13) and Grace Adams (MFA '14) Nominated for Irene Ryan

Photo courtesy of the School of Communication & the Arts.

Congratulations to
Sharon Bierman (MFA '13)
and Grace Adams (MFA '14)
on their KCACTF Irene Ryan Award nominations for Madame Arcati and Elivira respectively in Regent University's 2012-2013 Season opener:
Blithe Spirit!

2012-13 Theatre Season Kicks Off With Celebrated Comedy
By Rachel Judy

Since it was written at the height of World War II, Blithe Spirit has enjoyed critical success on stage in London and New York. Its most recent Broadway revival starred actress Angela Lansbury, who won a Tony Award for her role. This successful comedy will hit the Regent University stage for a two-week run beginning Friday, Sept. 14.

Blithe Spirit follows the story of a happily married novelist who suddenly finds himself haunted—literally—by the ghost of his temperamental first wife. Infused with Coward's trademark humor and comedic insight, audiences will have a stage-side seat to the challenges and joys of a marriage tested by unpredictable circumstances.

"Audiences will probably find themselves frequently laughing through tears," observed Dr. Michael Hill-Kirkland, professor in the School of Communication & the Arts and the show's director. "Coward takes a good hard look at marriage—and what it means to be 'bound' to another individual.

"Perhaps the lesson we walk away with is, marriage can become a comedy of errors if not taken seriously," he added.

Kicking off Regent's 2012-13 theatre season, Blithe Spirit is the perfect piece to showcase the in-depth study and coursework of MFA in Acting students. "Our students take courses in Periods and Style, Shakespeare, and Scene Study that touch upon such revered playwrights as Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill, George Bernard Shaw, and, yes, Noel Coward," Hill-Kirkland said. "It's a wonderful opportunity for our students to engage the skill sets they learn in class."

MFA in Acting student Sharon Biermann will perform her thesis role—a requirement for completion of a degree—in this production.

April 20, 2012

Original Broadway Musical Hits Regent Stage

By Rachel Judy

B.A. Isaac Gay as Joseph
Photo by Patrick Wright
The popular story of a boy and his coat of many colors comes to life in Joseph and the Technicolor® Dreamcoat, a family-friendly musical opening on Friday, April 20, at Regent University's Center for Performing Arts. This modern-day telling of the Old Testament story incorporates popular and traditional styles of music, as well as original animation sequences designed by Regent senior Topher Cavanaugh.
Joseph and the Technicolor® Dreamcoat will run April 20-22 and 27-29. Afternoon and evening show times are available. Purchase tickets through the Box Office.
With lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the musical is familiar to many, but the animation sequences—designed to give audiences a view of the dreams Joseph interprets—are what make Regent's production stand out.
"[The animation] builds on music and themes happening on stage," Cavanaugh explained. "With the animation, we get to show you what [Joseph] is talking about."
Cavanaugh is a student in the animation program housed in Regent's School of Undergraduate Studies (RSU). The lead role of Joseph is played by RSU junior Isaac Gay.
The production tells the story of Joseph from when he is a favored son in his father's household through his slavery and eventual rise to freedom and prosperity in Egypt. The entire production is sung, drawing more comparisons to a "rock opera" than a traditional musical format.
"It's not a traditional musical," said Eric Harrell, chair of Regent's Theatre Department and the play's director. "No matter what style of music you prefer, there's something in there for you."
Church and synagogue group discounts are available.
Purchase tickets through the Box Office. (757)  352-4245

April 19, 2012

The Lucky One Opens in Theaters tomorrow!

Regent Alum Kendal Tuttle appears in Zac Efron's new movie "The Lucky One" opening in theaters tomorrow.  To read more about the story, check out this alumni update on Kendal.
To hear Kendal's own thoughts on the opening of the movie, read
what he has to say on his own blog.
Congratulations, Kendal!

April 12, 2012

That's A Wrap!

 This Sunday, April 15th, at 3:00pm in the Studio Theatre, the B.A. graduating class of 2012 will be presenting their Senior Capstone Performance Project.  Come spend an hour with them as they present several fun, powerful and relevant contemporary scenes exploring different aspects of relationships.  The scenes were directed by Derek Martin, MFA. There are a variety of pieces both comedic and dramatic, three songs, one dance, one movement montage, three scenes, one monologue and one fight scene.The presentation will be followed by That's a Rap, a performance from Regent’s own V.I.P.s (Varsity Improv Players) You don’t want to miss the chance to celebrate the work of these talented artists!

Back row: Ash Arends, Destiny Cyprowski, Beka James, Jared O'Dell, Esther Zara Kestle
Front: Erika Tucker, Kristen Wilson, Gabrielle Davison, Tianna Yentzer

April 9, 2012

Virginia Beach BASH ’12 Recap

This year’s Virginia Beach BASH, held March 24-25 here on Regent’s Campus, celebrated nine years of combat with a variety of class offerings for all levels of participants. Classes included a wide spectrum of fighting styles and weapons in workshops sanctioned by the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD). Unique to the BASH, the weekend also offered opportunities for filmmakers to learn the art of producing, filming and editing fight action sequences.

The BASH was coordinated by Regent’s own Dr. Michael Hill-Kirkland, assisted by Professor Gregg Lloyd, from the Theatre Department of Christopher Newport University.

Stunt performer and guest instructor
Tim Bell is set on fire as part of a workshop demonstration.

Photo by Jared Beasley

As reported by Regent’s Rachel Judy, one of the highlights of this year's workshop was the opportunity for students to create the illusion of a car accident featuring stunt performer and guest instructor Tim Bell being set on fire. Besides providing a first-hand look at how to set up and safely conduct such a stunt, the "accident" was filmed by Regent cinema-television students under the direction of guest instructor Richard Clabaugh who then edited the sequence for viewing on Sunday. The stunt was coordinated by stunt coordinator, Dale Girard.

Other featured workshop instructors included SAFD fightmasters Richard Ryan (Troy, The Dark Knight, Stardust, Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Michael Chin and Scot Mann.

"The Virginia Beach Bash features some of the best fight direction talent in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom," Hill-Kirkland explained. "Over this two-day intensive workshop, students had the opportunity to study stage and film combat techniques with some of the best talent in the business and the academy."

MFA Michael McLendon learns about
safe fire stunts
2nd year MFA Ashley Dakin, attending the BASH for the first time, appreciated the opportunity to incorporate film technique with combat. She stated, “My favorite class was Kung Fu for the Camera with Michael Chin because it was fun, easy to learn and because I was able to use my Martial Arts background. Also, the instructor kept the camera on for the whole class and kept showing us how the fight should look on camera. After we learned the fight, we were able to be filmed with our partner and learn the importance of camera angles. If we messed it up, he would let us try again and then all of us observed how our fights looked on camera…(in the future) I hope to see more classes that involve combat for the camera. I really loved working with the CTV students.”

Another first time attendee, B.A. Tianna Yentzer, appreciated the nunchucks and Apache knife fighting classes. She says, “It was awesome being able to learn a skill that is hardly ever seen or used… it teaches coordination and patience. Whether or not I ever become a Nunchuck master it taught me something in a mere hour and a half class I know I will carry with me when approaching any skill I tackle… I joke now that I have found my two inner callings through knife fighting and nunchucks.”

MFA Beth Litwak and MFA Lauren McDonald cross quarterstaffs
Whether planning to pursue Stage and Film Combat as a part of a future career, or attending classes purely for enjoyment, many of the participants recommended the BASH for future students in glowing terms. MFA Marji Peters commented “It’s a good introduction to stage combat if you’re a beginner, and a great way to hone your skills and work on technique under the eyes of people who have proven themselves to be good at what they do.” Ashley Dakin adds “I believe that this workshop has opened my eyes to opportunities that I didn’t even know were out there for stunt work. Something that the instructors would emphasize in every class is not to anticipate the next move when you’re fighting. I have been able to transfer this idea to my acting as well. There are many lessons from combat to be transferred into acting a scene. Finally, people should attend the bash because it is an opportunity to network with other actors and directors.” And B.A. Rachel Albrecht enthusiastically stated, “It is a great opportunity to meet people and to hone your stage fighting skills. Also, IT'S SO MUCH FUN!!”

Get ready for next year – the 10th Anniversary of the Virginia Beach BASH! Coming in March, 2013!

April 2, 2012


A big thank you to everyone who came out to support MFA Cohort A at An Evening of Jazz! A wonderful time was had by all! Here are a few pictures taken by the talented David Polston, for those of you who weren't able to make it.
MFA Whitney Rappana and MFA Britain Willcock "cut a rug"
The fabulous band

MFAs Jeff Fazakerley and Ashley Dakin

MFA Cohort A
L - R Madeleine Ranson, Britain Willcock, Michael Salsbury, Amy Dunlap, Micaela DeLauro, Whitney Rappana,
Diana Coates, Zachary Bortot, Nathanael Fisher, Jeff Fazakerley

March 26, 2012

An Evening of Jazz!

On Saturday, March 31, from 7:30pm until 10:30pm, the graduating class of MFA Actors will be holding An Evening of Jazz at Regent University's Ordinary.
Admission is free and includes a free dessert bar! However, the event IS a fundraiser for the MFA Showcase, so your donations are gratefully accepted! All donations will go towards the May showcase, which will take place in Naples, FL. May 16th-18th.

From 7:30 - 8:30, dance lessons will be given by Britain Willcock and Whitney Rappana.  Then from 8:30 to 10:30, you'll have the chance to try out what you've learned by dancing the night away to jazz standards played by a live trio and sung by the graduating actors themselves! The repetoire includes such favorites as "The Way You Look Tonight", "They Can't Take That Away From Me", "Come Rain or Come Shine" and many, many more.  Come for the dance lessons, come later in the evening just to dance or enjoy the music, come for the free desserts...just COME!!!

Bring a partner, bring the kids, bring your friends...this is an evening you won't want to miss.

Diana Coates, Britain Willcock, Amy Dunlap, Nathanael Fisher
Jeff Fazakerley, Micaela DeLauro, Whitney Rappana
Mike Salsbury, Zach Bortot, Madeline Ranson
MFA Cohort A!
An Evening of Jazz...this Saturday night!

March 8, 2012

Doubt opens this weekend!

Don't miss Regent's opening weekend of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt: A Parable.  Here are some thoughts by director Mark Paladini.

Mark Paladini

I remember the television replay of Kennedy’s funeral in November of 1964, which is when our play begins. I also remember snippets of the Latin Mass and how excited my mother was about the changes that Vatican II was bringing about. I remember being petrified of the principal of Notre Dame Elementary School, an austere nun with marked similarities to Sister Aloysius in Doubt. When I was older, our pastor, Father O’Connor, always called upon me to serve as an altar boy, but I never experienced any of the problems discussed in Shanley’s play or in headlines today. I have fond memories of another priest, Father Deegan, visiting our home and playing basketball with us, removing the distance previously observed by the clergy. Times, they were a changin’.

Shanley titled his play Doubt – A Parable, because he created a fictional story in order to teach us all a lesson about doubt vs. certainty in a changing world. I believe he chose a more innocent time, because the progressive movement in 1964 seems quaint when compared to our current cultural norms. Many things that appear to be black and white to Sr. Aloysius during the time of the play have been discarded just as the Latin Mass was replaced shortly thereafter. This provides a backdrop for the universal struggle of good vs. evil in conjunction with the battle of doubt vs. certainty. Hopefully, the doubts that arise from the lesson of the parable will give us an opportunity to reflect on our own imperfect natures.

The story asks us all to examine our lives and speculate whether our points of view might seem antiquated 20 years from now. Do we suffer from an inelasticity that we gain as we get older, a disdain for leaving our comfort zone? Is our certainty a vestige of our loyalty to our jobs, cultural norms or political affiliations? Shanley is using a more innocent time to encourage all of us to ask these questions and make distinctions between non-negotiable truths and temporal priorities with a soon-to-be-expiring shelf life.

I have a fond place in my heart for my Catholic upbringing. When researching the play, I discovered that Father O’Connor was subsequently accused of improper behavior at his next parish. Father Deegan left the priesthood and married my brother’s first grade teacher. And one-by-one, the nuns disappeared. I still pray for vocations (men and women who are called to work for the Lord) and know in my heart that these selfless people should not be stained by the few who have stumbled.

- Mark Paladini

Call the box office for tickets at 757-352-4245

February 23, 2012

Regent Alum Kaja Dunn cast in Brownie Points

From BWW News Desk:

MFA Alum Kaja Dunn
Lamb’s Players Theatre today announced its cast for Brownie Points by Janece Schaffer. Ms. Schaffer is an award-winning playwright living in Atlanta, Georgia, and has had a long relationship with the Alliance Theatre there.

Brownie Points, written 2010, has seen previous productions in Atlanta, Sacramento and Seattle. The production at Lamb’s resident theatre in Coronado will be the play’s Southern California premiere.

The show centers on "five modern-day moms on a campout with their Girl Scout daughters in the pine hills of Georgia when an unexpected storm erupts. With a sharp ear for true conversation and a very funny wit, Schaffer asks which is more powerful – the bond of friendship, the shared experience of motherhood, or the divisiveness of race or religion? Funny, moving and powerful, it is easy to see why this new play has already won awards, and raves from audiences and critics across the country."

Brownie Points is directed by Lamb’s Associate Artistic Director, Deborah Gilmour Smyth, with scenic design by Michael McKeon, costume design by Keith Bonar and lighting design by Nathan Peirson.

The cast features Lamb’s Artistic Ensemble members Cynthia Gerber and Erica Phillips, along with award-winning San Diego actresses Monique Gaffney, Karson St John and Kaja Dunn.

Brownie Points goes into Previews April 13, with Opening Night April 20, running thru May 27.

Read more:

February 15, 2012

Graduating MFAs Fundraise in Fun Ways!

Mike and Sandy Salsbury serenade
Elinor Malendoski
Cupid and the Valen-twins, and the Salsburys
deliver a Valentine to Suzanne Morton

If you were passing through the halls of the Com building on February 14th, you may have heard the melodious strains of "You Are My Sunshine", "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" or "Follow My Heart".  Or perhaps you caught a glimpse of the Valen-twin fairies.  If you were really lucky, you may have seen Cupid - as you've never seen him before!

The graduating class of MFA actors held a singing telegram fundraiser on Valentine's Day, and it was a ringing success! Thank you so much to all who participated.
Zach Bortot as Cupid

Whitney Rappana and Jeff Fazakerley
sing "Follow Your Heart"

The next event is being held this very weekend.  On Sunday, February 19th, at 7:30pm, in the Studio Theatre... "They Fight!"
This is an evening of theatrical combat, performed and choreographed by Regent students and alums.  Performances include scenes from Shakespeare, a Kung Fu showdown, Rapier and Dagger in corsets, a warrior goddess dance with broadswords, and much more.  The evening will conclude with a Gladiator match, in which your donations and crowd participation determine the fate of one of the fighters.  Admission is free, but it a fundraiser after all, so donations are gratefully accepted! Please be advised, there is a strong parental advisory due to language and realistic violence. 

Finally, mark March 31st on your calendar now! The MFAs will be holding a jazz night, featuring swing dance lessons, cabaret style entertainment, food, and dancing.  This would be a great date night, or a fantastic evening to hang out with a group of friends.  More details will be coming soon, but make plans now to be there.  You won't want to miss it!

All proceeds from these fundraisers go towards the annual industry showcase, where the graduating actors have the opportunity to have their work seen by casting directors, talent agents and other industry professionals.  It's an important launching pad towards their future careers as Christian artists.  Your support is gratefully appreciated!

February 8, 2012

Super Bowl Commercial Wins Big!

by Rachel Judy

Adjunct Professor Derek Leonidoff
Most of the time, commercials provide television watchers a chance to step away from the couch. On the biggest sports Sunday of the year, however, they usually provide the motivation to stay put. It was just such a commercial that had Derek Leonidoff, Regent University adjunct professor and coordinator of Regent's Varsity Improv Players (VIPs) troop, and many of his students and colleagues
glued to their seats Sunday night during the Super Bowl.
A Virginia Beach-based actor and drama director at Spring Branch Community Church, Leonidoff recently starred in a commercial titled "Man's Best Friend" produced by Virginia Beach-based Jonathan Friedman. The commercial was entered into the "Doritos Crash the Super Bowl" contest, which gave online voters a chance to select their two favorites from five finalists.

Fans had to watch to see which two Grand Prize winning commercials would air during the Super Bowl XLVI broadcast. On Sunday, Feb. 6, Leonidoff and his canine costar Huff were broadcast nationally during the game's second quarter.

For many of Regent's theatre arts students, seeing Leonidoff on screen and watching his commercial win national acclaim was both exciting and encouraging.

"Theatre is a collaborative art, and the professors in the department do an excellent job of cultivating community," said Sarah Grice, a theatre student in Regent's School of Undergraduate Studies (RSU). "[He] is a mentor and a friend to many of us."

Grice and fellow RSU student Jared O'Dell both agree that Leonidoff's work encourages them as inspiring actors. "It is beneficial to learn from people who are actively participating [in the industry]," O'Dell explained. "Their advice is not just 'this is what worked 20 years ago' but rather what worked last year. Plus, it is exciting to join them in their victories."

"You learn so much by working with actors who have more experience and training than you do," Grice said.

Because the commercial also made it to one of the top three spots (including ties) according to the USA TODAY Ad Meter rankings, Doritos awarded its creator $1 million and a consulting contract with a Hollywood professional with the opportunity to produce an additional commercial.

February 3, 2012

Fight Night!

On February 19th at 7:30 p.m. in the Studio Theatre Regent University students will perform "They Fight” a night of scenes exploring the many unique facets of the world of stage combat.

"They Fight" is a benefit to help fund the graduating M.F.A. Cohort’s acting showcase. There will be no admission charged but donations are welcome. This production will be an entirely student-run event including choreography from recent Regent graduates Chad Rasor and Sean Cowan along with current 3rd year students Zach Bortot and Britain Willcock. The scenes will include a classic scene from Shakespeare, a Kung Fu face off, a dance of warrior goddesses with broadswords, and much more.

The night will conclude with a gladiatorial style match in which extra donations from the audience will decide the fate of one of the fighters.

This event has a parental advisory for realistic violence and language.

Please join us for a night of creative combat and help support the graduating cohort’s first step into the professional world of theater!

January 23, 2012

UnCovering Katie Cheely

Katie Cheely, MFA '10
(from the Regent Alumni Newsletter)

A native of Chicago, Katherine Cheely was thankful to be back in her hometown for the holidays, where she and her family usually enjoy some of their annual holiday traditions: an old-fashioned caroling party with friends and family who go around the neighborhood ringing doorbells and singing Christmas favorites on doorsteps. They also usually collaborate on an annual Christmas Day dinner adventure inspired by a different country for its theme. This year, however, was dramatically different.

Two weeks before Christmas, the family suffered the excruciating heartbreak of the sudden and unexpected death of Katie's two-year-old nephew. Living and suffering through this mystery brought new dimensions to the existential questions of the human condition—which have always been important to theater—and how the Christian message is really the only answer to the most profound needs of mankind. Although Katie and her family had to spend a lot of time with God contemplating these questions over the holidays, Katie’s schedule remains very full. As an actor, singer, teacher and playwright, she's a busy woman forging a future in an industry not often open to Christian values. Despite having a lot on her plate, Katie seeks to handle just one thing at a time. “If I think of too much at once, I get overwhelmed, and feel like staying in bed!”

While at Regent, where she graduated in 2010 with an MFA in Acting, Katie and some fellow graduate students started the UnCovered Theatre Company, a collaborative team of artists (actors, directors, playwrights, and teachers) who have produced works across the United States. The company's founders have come together with a common desire: create thought-provoking and artful theatre that challenges, enlightens and entertains. Uncovered’s mission is “To offer hope, shed light on the human condition, and uncover goodness, truth and beauty.” In uncovering truth, UnCovered Theatre reveals life for what it is. “We never deny the pain and suffering in life," Katie says. "But we show that hope and redemption can always be found in the midst of it.”

Since she was an undergrad, Katie wanted to start a theatre company. But she never found the right people to share her vision. Because of their dynamic work environment and how they all met, Katie considers it a blessing to be where she is, doing what she is doing with the people she now considers family. When asked what is most rewarding about her job, Katie replies, “Hearing how our work is resonating with audience members, how they value and appreciate our work and are inspired by it in different ways, how it prompts them to think about life, people, situations [and] their faith in new and deeper ways. Also, I love working together with people, all of us using our unique gifts to create something beautiful for God, that we hope will touch others subtly with His Spirit.”

Not only did Regent provide lifelong friends for Katie, but it was also a place where she found support to dream big and grow in her confidence and faith, knowing that she could indeed reach those dreams. One specific dream of hers is to “have a theatre company focused on producing artistically excellent productions that offer hope.” For Katie, the fact that her colleagues are excellent artists with a deep love for God, committed to developing their talents and to following His will is priceless.

Advice comes in many forms, but for Katie, one key piece of advice she would like to pass along is: “Do what you can, and give it to God. Trust that He will take care of the rest and will take care of you in the way that is best. Also, love and help those around you.” Despite facing hardships and rejection within the industry, Katie trusts in the fact that God can do anything. As unique as each School of Communications & the Arts alumnus is, all are a part of a brotherhood from which they can draw a little encouragement to continue to strive in the race. Despite struggles, they can find joy, humor, hope, and love in them. “If we focus on trying to follow His will, and try to love Him and our peers each day, He will fill in the rest." Katie adds, "He can make anything happen. Pray for increased faith, hope, and trust. and don’t get discouraged. God knows how small and humble we are.”

In ten years, Katie “hopes for her company to be more established—producing work that encourages, provokes deeper thought and discussion, entertains and inspires, plants seeds of hope in audiences that there really is a wonderful meaning, purpose and joy in life, [which is] available to everyone.” Regent is extremely excited about Katie’s future and that of the UnCovered Theatre Company. We wish them all continued good health and success in their endeavors. If you want to learn more about UnCovered, please visit their website.
Catch an UnCovered Production...

UnCovered's next production will be the Chicago premiere of The Disorientation of Butterflies, by Regent's own artists, Christy Vance (MFA, 2010) and Nathan Schmidt (MFA, 2011). The Disorientation of Butterflies, an original six-person musical drama, was produced at Regent's own lab space in 2010 AND at the 2011 NYC International Fringe Festival, a production of The Present Company.

Disorientation's main character struggles with a powerful obsession: death. No one understands why; including her math teacher-husband, her loving mother, her type-A twin and even herself. The musical boldly lifts the veil on depression and probes the mystery of death.

The Disorientation of Butterflies will be performed at Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago from Jan. 24 - Feb. 19, 2012. The cast includes three Regent alumni: Adam Hurst (MFA, 2007), Kelly Helgeson (MFA, 2008) and Katie Cheely (MFA, 2010). It's directed by Kelly Levander (MFA, 2009).

January 19, 2012

Jennifer Martin accepts new job at Studio Center

Jennifer Martin (MFA ’08) has recently accepted a position at Studio Center as the On-Camera Talent Director. Since graduating from Regent with an MFA in Acting, Jennifer has worked in professional theatre in California, Indiana, Massachusetts and Virginia. She and her husband Derek Martin (Head of Regent’s Undergraduate Theatre program) recently established Americana Theatre Company, a professional summer theatre in Plymouth, Mass.

Studio Center, which is just a few miles from Regent’s campus in Virginia Beach, is the largest, fastest growing production company of its kind in the area, and one of the first production studios to specialize in broadcast advertising. A number of Regent students have had opportunities to audition for and work with Studio Center over the last several years. Chad Rasor (MFA ’10) has done voiceover work in markets like Jacksonville, Fla., where he is the primary voice for the Jacksonville Zoo. He has also provided voice for several other commercial spots. Other students and alumni have booked on-camera commercials with Studio Center. Ryan Clemens (MFA ’10) has filmed ads for auto sales, bath fixtures, and a Virginia Lottery commercial that ran statewide. Jeff Fazakerley (’12) has filmed two commercials and also booked a live appearance at a local event. Other Regent students and alums who have booked work through Studio Center are Kaja Dunn (MFA ’10), Brittany Baird, Ashley Dakin, Mike Salsbury and Andrew Wilson.

As the new On-Camera Talent Director, Jennifer’s responsibilities include recruiting new talent, submitting actors for projects, negotiating wages, taping and coaching auditions, and booking new projects. She acts as a talent agent, casting director and salesperson, which may sound daunting, but Jennifer says, “…as Studio Center is highly professional and very organized, this is easy to do. The reasons why people should use Studio Center are apparent…from our super talented actors (including Regent students) to our hassle-free service.”

Jennifer’s advice for current students is to keep your eye on the future, even while you are still in school. She states, “Actors are fabulous at being in the moment…this is a blessing and a curse. The MFA program is so wonderfully demanding that it is very easy to make it your whole world for three years. But how will they open up employment in the future if they are only focused on the present? Students must discipline themselves to be future-minded. A gainfully employed actor will possess the skill to balance being in the moment and chasing opportunities for the future…Audition everywhere and look for the open door. Every Regent MFA student should step foot on campus thinking ‘what’s next?’ Dream big and do the work.”

There are many Regent students who have auditioned for Studio Center multiple times but have never booked a job. It can be easy to grow discouraged when this happens. MFA Jeff Fazakerley suggests viewing each audition as an opportunity to practice your audition skill-set, and that if a booking happens to view it as a lovely surprise.

Jennifer adds, “The people that book are SUPER prepared. They have rehearsed over and over…I would say prepare like you are performing, not auditioning…Your agent will learn to trust you and when they can cast projects themselves, they will remember you and book you.”

To contact Studio Center, call (757) 286-3080 or email Jennifer at

January 17, 2012

Derek Leonidoff's Super Bowl Hopes

Regent Adjunct Professor Derek Leonidoff not only demonstrates a great rapport with students in his Improvisation classes, and with audiences as leader of the V.I.P.s (Varsity Improv Players) but also with an imposing Great Dane in his new commercial “Man’s Best Friend.” Derek’s commercial can be seen here, but he hopes you’ll do more than just watch it! “Man’s Best Friend” is a finalist in the Doritos sponsored “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, and he needs your votes to help him win.

When asked about the process of shooting the commercial, Derek said, “The commercial was shot over the course of just three hours. Jon Friedman, the creator of this spot, is a director I've worked with before on a couple of independent films. Having worked with me before, he thought of me to play the role in this spot, and gave me a call. The most difficult part of shooting was working with "Huff" the Great Dane. He's a good dog, but not "Hollywood" trained or anything. The few seconds he's sat still in the commercial are literally the only few seconds he was still during the shoot. The Doritos contest is in its fifth year, and we were up against over 6,000 other commercials submitted from around the country. We figured that if it didn't make it – ‘Hey, it's no big deal. We had some fun working together, and it'll look good on our reel.’ Then, right before Christmas, we got a call that we’d been chosen as a finalist. It was killing me because we signed a non-disclosure agreement, and I wasn't allowed to tell anyone!”

Here’s how the contest works: From the fan votes, two out of the five commercials will be chosen to air during Super Bowl XLVI. The one with the most votes will be deemed the grand prize winner and go on to create another Doritos commercial with guys from "The Lonely Island" (From Saturday Night Live.) In addition, if Derek’s ad is chosen to air, AND it makes it into the top five of the USA Today ad-meter after the Super Bowl, there’s a chance they could win up to one million dollars. Yes, that's competing against all the other great commercials during the Super Bowl, but last year, "Pug Attack," another Doritos fan submitted spot, was the Grand Prize winner, and came in first on the ad-meter, so they won the million. It can be done.

Derek adds, “If you go to our website, there are links to where you can vote, a blooper reel, a ‘Huff pick of the day,’ and you can even sign up for daily reminders.

It's exciting. You know - I went to college with Jon, I've known him for a long time, and here we are, years later on the verge of a big break with a national commercial spot. You never know who you might be working with right now that could prove to be an advocate of your work later. Even the smallest opportunity today, could prove to be your big break later on.”

You can vote for "Man's Best Friend" here.  Come back every day and cast a vote for Derek!

January 11, 2012

"If I Were You" premieres at Palm Springs Film Festival

Mark Paladini
Regent Theater Professor Mark Paladini is in Palm Springs, CA this week, attending the world premiere of If I Were You, of which he is the co-executive producer. Mark teaches in both the Department of Theatre Arts and Department of Cinema-Television, specializing in screen acting, auditioning, actor coaching and the Uta Hagen approach to acting. A renowned film and television casting director, he is currently the co-executive producer of several internationally produced independent feature films.

Mark began his professional training as an actor in New York, studying with the highly influential acting teacher Uta Hagen and appearing in the world premiere of Ain Gordon's End Over End. His entry into the casting world involved directing hundreds of commercial auditions for a group of innovative New York commercial casting directors in the 1980s. His casting credits include major motion pictures such as The Mask, Spy Hard and Mortal Kombat. Television credits include Babylon 5 and Beverly Hills, 90210.

If I Were You is getting lots of buzz at the 23rd annual Palm Springs International Film Festival which, according to Richard Chang of the Orange County Register, signals the start of the yearlong film festival circuit and – as a precursor to the Golden Globes and Academy Awards – the unofficial beginning of movie awards season. Chang also writes, “Because of its proximity to Hollywood, Palm Springs attracts celebrities of all stripes, as well as a bevy of film industry insiders. This year's guest list includes Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Gary Oldman, Charlize Theron, Glenn Close, Michelle Williams, James Franco, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Marcia Gay Harden, Aidan Quinn and Octavia Spencer. About 187 films from 73 countries are scheduled, including two world premieres, 22 North American premieres and 36 U.S. premieres.”

The film was written by Joan Carr-Wiggin and stars Marcia Gay Harden, Aidan Quinn and Spanish actress Leonor Watling. In an interview with Bruce Fessier of The Desert Sun, Harden commented, “The theme of the movie is that people switch places…Do we always do what's best for us when we're only looking from our own perspective? She's looking for something different but she's not seeing the reality of what's in front of her. Through this young girl, beautifully played by Leonor, she's able to break out of this betrayal that's there in the marriage and find something in herself.”

Leonor Watling (left) and Marcia Gay Harden in “If I Were You.” Courtesy Photo
If I Were You is about a woman who sees her husband having a romantic dinner with a pretty young actress, Lucy. Harden, as Madelyn, follows Lucy out of the restaurant to a liquor store, where she watches her order a rope. She follows Lucy to her apartment and then prevents her from hanging herself, which prompts Madelyn to befriend her husband's lover without revealing her true identity.

The film takes its name from a deal Lucy and Madelyn make in which each woman must follow the other's advice. That allows Madelyn to surreptitiously advise her rival on how not to pursue a relationship with her husband.

Congratulations, Mark!

January 9, 2012

Tartuffe coming to Studio Theater

Tartuffe, a religious imposter, has set his sights on the wealthy Orgon in a scheme to steal all of his worldly possessions. This fast-paced comedy is a race to the finish as the family attempts to unmask the con artist before it's too late.

January 27 - 29, February 2 - 5

Communication Building - Studio Theatre

Adult - $16.00 Regent Student - $8.00 Senior - $13.25
For tickets call the Box Office at 757.352.4245

Want to know more about Moliere's comedy? Here are some notes from Tartuffe Director, Scott Hayes.
Tartuffe premiered for King Louis XIV in 1664. Although favorably received by the King, the play was banned from public performance after influential church leaders considered the play an attack on the very foundations of religion. After many revisions, the ban was lifted in 1669 and Molière enjoyed the most successful public run of any of his plays. Tartuffe is considered to be Molière’s masterwork and one of the great dramas of western literature.

We are presenting the play with period costumes, properties, hairstyles, etc., yet we do not posit the play is merely an object lesson from an important event in history with no contemporary relevance. Cleante, the “voice of reason,” encourages Orgon (and us) to cultivate true devotion, sincere commitment and humble faith. According to the following snippet by George A. Scranton, Moliere’s personal theology is revealed in his works:
“Molière’s comedy reveals us in our distorted incompleteness, our ‘brokenness,’ our sinful and limited finiteness. Laughter is often the mirror, whip and gift that reveals, castigates and allows for transformation of the characters, and us as we see ourselves revealed in the characters of his dramatic comedy. Molière is always jarring us with the evidence that we are no better than other people, and always comforting us with the knowledge that most other people are no better than we are. It makes us more critical but it leaves us more tolerant.
Molière’s version of dramatic comedy is not just a light humorous play that happens to have a happy ending. It is ‘a way of surveying life so that happy endings must prevail.’ This fortunate happy ending, most often brought about by plot twists ‘beyond human knowledge and control’ may be understood theologically as the miraculous intervention of God on humanity's behalf. The spirit and structure of Molière’s dramatic comedy seem to demand a hope-filled inclusive eschatology in which everyone is invited to the final happy ending. Only those who actively refuse that rebalanced or resurrected community are not present, and hope is often held out for even them.

This final community is seen as a rebalanced society, and for a moment frozen in time we can experience community in microcosm as it ought to be, based on love and mutuality of persons. In that respect such a community may represent (and in any given production even may be) an adumbration of that community of God that is among us, and not yet among us in its fullness. - Love and Lovers: Mutuality, Sin, Grace and The Future In Molière’s Vision Of Comedy

January 4, 2012

Theatre student reminder!

Reminder to all theatre students - grad and undergrad: There is a mandatory Town Hall meeting tomorrow (January 5th)  at noon in Screening Room A! See you there!