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Alumni,Faculty,Productions,Spotlight,Students

‘Eclipsed’ To Be Performed at Regional Festival

23 Jan , 2018  

University of Utah Theatre Department’s Eclipsed Will Be Performed at Regional Festival The University of Utah Theater Department’s production of Eclipsed from last season was chosen by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival to perform at Festivention from February 14 to 17 at Mesa Community College, Arizona. This is one of only six productions that has been chosen to perform from our region, comprised of schools from Utah, Southern Nevada, Southern California, Arizona, Hawaii, and Guam.

Eclipsed is a powerful production based on real life stories of the women and girls who helped bring peace to the African nation of Liberia during its second civil war. It became the first play with an all-black and female cast and creative team to premiere on Broadway in 2015. The U of U’s production followed this example by casting an all-black cast and hiring Stephanie Weeks, New York resident, as artistic director. Of their performance, Utah Theater Blogger stated, “The five women on stage of this production took on material that has the ability to bring empathy, understanding, and advocacy that is desperately needed.”

U of U Theatre professor Bob Nelson currently serves on the board of KCACTF, and has been serving there for 10 years. In fact, this year he was honored with a Gold Medallion for his years of dedicated service with the organization. Nelson said this year there were over 70 eligible applicants, and the U was one of 6 selected.

Some of KCACTF’s goals are “to encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs, to provide opportunities for participants to develop their theater skills and insight . . . [and] to encourage colleges and universities to give distinguished productions of new plays.” Professor Nelson said of the festival, “I particularly appreciate working with KCACTF because this organization, more than many, focuses on the students’ experience. It gives students an excellent opportunity to interact and work with other individuals and institutions at the festival.”

Participating in the festival is no small undertaking. The entire company will be returning for their three performances at the festival, including recently graduated students. The company will also transport their entire set and costumes to the venue. While at the festival, they will get the opportunity to participate in workshops and seminars on such topics as dramaturgy, theatre criticism, playwriting, auditioning, voice, movement, stage combat, theater for children, scene painting, and scenery construction.

Speaking of Eclipsed, Artistic Director Stephanie Weeks was quoted in the Daily Utah Chronicle saying as, “Often when we talk of prisoners of war we talk about the soldiers who have been captured, tortured, and killed. Rarely do we talk about the women and children who are also in the trenches and are, in fact, prisoners of war themselves . . . trapped by their circumstances. So how and why do we imprison the women who gave us life and nurtured us?” Audiences who attended this production last year were deeply moved, and the University of Utah is proud to be able to send our talented cast and production team to this festival to share this important story.

By Adam Griffiths, CFA

 

 

Alumni

Alumna Ashley Bryant in Broadway’s “The Play That Goes Wrong”

19 Sep , 2017  

ATP alumna Ashley Bryant joins the Broadway production of Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong as Annie. The Tony Award-winning production is the longest-running play on Broadway—beginning September 19.

Winner of the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, The Play that Goes Wrong is a classic murder mystery chock-full of mishaps and more madcap mania than a Monty Python marathon! Welcome to opening night of The Murder at Haversham Manor where things are quickly going from bad to utterly disastrous. With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines), it’s bedlam beyond Broadway’s wildest nightmare and “A riotous explosion of comedy!” (The Daily Beast).

Bryant graduated from the University of Utah’s Actor Training program in 2005 and went on to receive her MFA from the Yale School of Drama. Bryant’s New York credits include the Broadway production of A Free Man of Color along with productions of Learning to Swim (Ensemble Studio Theatre); Cornbury: The Queen’s Governor (Theatre Askew); Obama Drama (Creative Destruction) In the Cypher (Cypher Productions).  Regionally, she has performed Proof (TheatreWorks Silicon Valley), Mouth Wide Open(American Repertory Theater); Emotional Creature (Signature Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre); Ruined (Florida Studio Theatre); Sheila’s Day (Hartford Stage, Crossroads Theatre, The Market Theatre in South Africa); and King John (Shakespeare and Company). TV/Film Credits: Youth, Blue Bloods, Gossip Girl, The Knick, Elementary, Nurse Jackie, Show Me a Hero.

Original article from playbill.com below:

A new company joins the Broadway production of Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong—currently the longest-running play on Broadway—beginning September 19.

The original Olivier Award-winning West End cast played their final performances at the Lyceum Theatre September 17.

The new company comprises of Ashley Bryant (Emotional Creature) as Annie, Clifton Duncan (City Center Encores! Assassins) as Robert, Mark Evans (Paper Mill Playhouse’s Mary Poppins) as Chris, Alex Mandell (Hand to God) as Max, Harrison Unger (Broadway debut) as Dennis, and Akron Watson (The Color Purple) as Trevor.

Current Broadway cast members Jonathan Fielding and Amelia McClain assume the roles of Jonathan and Sandra, respectively. The cast also features Preston Truman Boyd (Sunset Boulevard), Ned Noyes (You Can’t Take It With You), Ashley Reyes (Broadway debut), and Katie Sexton (Broadway debut).

The Play That Goes Wrong began performances March 9 and officially opened on Broadway April 2; the production went on to win a 2017 Tony Award for Best Sceneic Design of a Play.

Co-written by Mischief Theatre company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields, The Play That Goes Wrong introduces The Cornley University Drama Society, who are attempting to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery, “but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong…does, as the accident prone thespians battle on against all odds to get to their final curtain call.”

Alumni

Spread the Good Word, Jaron Barney is coming back!

20 Jul , 2017  

Jaron Barney is coming back to Salt Lake City for the Broadway traveling tour of The Book of Mormon, August 1-20, 2017 at the Eccles Theater. Jaron was a student in the Musical Theatre Program until 2014. During his time at the U, he performed in several productions including Spring Awakening, Hair, She Loves Me (Babcock Theatre); Something’s Afoot, Elf: The Musical, and A Christmas Carol (Pioneer Theatre). After his time at the U, he moved to New York City to pursue his passion for performing, and with much tenacity and talent he is now part of The Book of Mormon national tour. Congrats Jaron, we can’t wait to see you in SLC.

THE BOOK OF MORMON returns to Salt Lake City by popular demand with three weeks of performances August 1 – 20, 2017 at the brand-new Eccles Theater. ArtTix.org is the official ticketing source for the Eccles Theater and the Broadway at the Eccles series.

The New York Times calls it “the best musical of the century.” The Washington Post says, “It is the kind of evening that restores your faith in musicals.” And Entertainment Weekly says, “Grade A: the funniest musical of all time.” Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show calls it “Genius. Brilliant. Phenomenal.” It’s THE BOOK OF MORMON, the nine-time Tony Award®-winning Best Musical.

This outrageous musical comedy follows the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries, sent halfway across the world to spread the Good Word. Now with standing room only productions in London, on Broadway, and across North America, THE BOOK OF MORMON has truly become an international sensation. Contains explicit language.

Captioned performance for this show is Saturday, August 12th at 2:00PM. Patrons who are interested in the captioned performance should select seats located Orchestra Right on the Main floor.

Alumni

Alum Spotlight: Alex Vermillion

22 May , 2017  

 By Guest Writer and Emerging Leaders Ambassador, Ashley Chin-Mark. Photos courtesy of Alex Vermillion.

Arguably, one of the major concerns of contemporary society is that the Millennial Generation is becoming increasingly removed from the human experience and losing the ability to form meaningful interactions.  However, the progressive work of University of Utah English and Theater alumnus, Alex Vermillion, is shattering that perception by engaging the community and captivating new audiences through bold actions and meaningful language.

An advocate for gender free roles, Vermillion (ze/zir/zirs) has made it zer mission to advocate for free gender roles and a transgender individual, Vermillion is addressed with Ze/Zir/Zirs.  Ze has made it zer mission to “represent less recognized communities” and “portray voices that are less heard,” through zir roles as a freelance Dramaturg, a Drag Queen, as the Communication Coordinator for the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA), and as the Editorial Intern/Writer/Contributor for the SLUG Magazine.

An accomplished educator and editor, Vermillion returned to the university last year to inspire students as the 2015 Humanities Department Convocation Speaker and, most recently, as the Dramaturg for the Theatre Department’s modern adaptation of “The Two Noble Kinsmen.”  Ze explains zir interest in Shakespeare, “He really captures what humans are comprised of…[the nature of his work asks] ‘Are you connecting with the audience?,’ ‘Are you playing the role?,’ ‘Are you having fun?’”  For Vermillion, the fun is found in the bard’s clever use of satire, which ze believes is “the best way to understand and relate to contemporary issues,” and the major focus of zir work in “The Two Noble Kinsmen.”  Ze credits zir project mentor, Martine Kei-Green Rogers, in assisting zir research in the background of plays and forming an intimacy with the text.

Vermillion divulged that ze “loves working with magic in plays,” a staple in all of Shakespeare’s works, and, as a self-proclaimed Marvel superhero nerd, ze derived additional inspiration from the comic book and gaming technology industries.  Similar to theatrical production aspects, ze considers the technological aspects, mentioned in comics and used in games and films, a great avenue for mixing logic, creativity, and imagination.” Alex Vermillion is accomplishing super feats.  Through zir advising with “Out Loud,” an artistic platform for youth voices in the LGBTQIA+ community at the UMOCA (created by Elly Baldwin, UMOCA’s Curator of Public Engagement), ze develops inclusive programs for teens that help “students build positive social connections and share their experiences with others.”

Recently admitted into the Yale School of Drama’s Dramatic Criticism Masters Program, Vermillion plans to finish five years of intensive studies before opening an interactive, Queer Shakespeare Theatre complete with an underground Drag Show and Bar and a Homeless Center for Queer Youth with art education programs and performance opportunities. Of less represented populations, like the LGBTQ community, ze says, “We have to go to them, invite them in, and create a more inclusive environment by asking them, ‘How can we accurately represent you?’” Vermillion will continue to use this power in a positive light to frame live performances, artistic projects, and journalism compositions as “community–oriented activities” that encourage individuality and self-expression.

 

Original article can be found at The Finer Points.