Welcoming the 2019-20 Season!

21 May , 2019  


Music by Frank Wildhorn
Book and Lyrics by Don Black, Christopher Hampton
Conceived by Des McAnuff, Frank Wildhorn, Christopher Hampton
Original Orchestrations by Koen Schoots
Original Broadway Production by Dodger Theatricals and Joop Van Den Ende in association with Clear Channel Entertainment
Directed and Choreographed by Denny Berry
September 13-22, 2019
The Hayes Christensen Theatre (MCD)

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Wendy Franz
September 27-October 6, 2019
Studio 115

by Homer
Adapted and originally directed by Mary Zimmerman
Adapted from the translation of “The Odyssey” by Robert Fitzgerald
Directed by Alexandra Harbold
November 8-17, 2019
Babcock Theatre

by Qui Nguyen
Directed by Jamie Rocha Allan
January 16-19, 2020
Kingsbury Hall

Book by Tina Landau
Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettel
Additional Lyrics by Tina Landau
Directed and Choreographed by Denny Berry
February 14- March 1, 2020
Babcock Theatre

by Molière
In a translation by Ranjit Bolt
Directed by Robert Scott Smith
March 27-April 5, 2020
Studio 115

Tickets available in July, 2019.


Interdisciplinary research team receives federal grant to investigate value and impact of the arts in medicine

16 May , 2019  

Grant from National Endowment for the Arts fuels research where theatre meets patient communication

A group of interdisciplinary researchers from the arts and medicine at the University of Utah is among a select group to receive federal grant money from the National Endowment for the Arts for their work investigating the value and impact of the arts, either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecology or as they interact with each other and with other domains of American life.

“I believe that a public university exists to improve the lives of the community it serves,” says Michael L. Good, MD, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, CEO of University of Utah Health, and Dean of the School of Medicine. “Fostering a campus culture of collaboration between the arts and health is essential to our success. This generous support from the NEA validates and supports our efforts to expand interdisciplinary research, teaching, clinical care, and community engagement on the important role the arts play in healing, recovery, and wellness.”

These researchers, led by Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell, PhD (College of Fine Arts’ Department of Theatre) and Gretchen Case, PhD, MA, (School of Medicine’s Program in Medical Ethics and Humanities), have developed a unique, theatre-based approach to helping health care providers, trainees, and students develop and practice the skills they need to communicate with patients, families, and care teams, especially when approaching difficult conversations, called Coached Rehearsal Techniques for Interpersonal Communication Skills (CRiTICS).

“The value of the arts on culture has been long understood,” said John W. Scheib, PhD, Associate Vice President for the Arts at the University of Utah and Dean of the College of Fine Arts. “And explorations like these are helping us to understand how artistic practices and creative thinking can have powerful benefits outside of galleries and theatres and in ways that profoundly shape our healing.”

CRiTICS uses professional coaches trained in theatre and performance to guide learners through the rehearsal of a difficult conversation scenario, offering individualized, constructive feedback not only on what a learner says, but also on how they communicate nonverbally. And the funds from National Endowment of the Arts will allow the research team to assess its effectiveness using objective measures in a large-scale, randomized controlled trial. Results of this trial will offer insights for improved assessment of communication skills, which are notoriously difficult to measure productively.

“No one wants to hear bad news and no one wants to give it, either, but health care professionals have to do it every day,” said Cheek-O’Donnell.

“Providers at all levels of training deserve innovative support to communicate effectively and compassionately in challenging medical settings,” said Case.

This project was conceived and planned with the support of Jeffrey R. Botkin, MD, MPH and the Utah Center for Excellence in ELSI Research (UCEER), and the enthusiastic backing of the Department of Theatre, College of Fine Arts, Program in Medical Ethics and Humanities, and the Division of General Internal Medicine.

National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman, Mary Anne Carter, announced 15 awards totaling $724,000 to support research projects that investigate the value and impact of the arts. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to

Original from the CFA’s Finer Points Blog. 


CJ Greer Workshop with MTP Students

30 Apr , 2019  

On Friday, April 26, seven senior Musical Theatre Program students participated in a vocal workshop taught by Vocal Performer and Instructor CJ Greer.

CJ has been on Broadway and in National Tours for Sister Act, Les Mis, Ragtime, I Love a Piano, The Producers, and The Buddy Holly Story, in addition to her work Off-Broadway and in regional houses. She’s now an Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Nevada, Reno.


“We Are Hartland!” Youth Performance

25 Apr , 2019  


For the past few months at the UNP Hartland Partnership Center, four University of Utah Theatre Teaching students lead by Kelby McIntyre-Martinez worked with the Hartland Youth Center to put together a social action theatre piece, “We are Hartland!” The goal of the performance was to share youth hopes and dreams with the broader community.

On Tuesday evenings, we met with the youth at Hartland to teach them theatre skills such as projection (using a loud and clear voice), being in control of their voices and bodies while on stage, facing toward the audience, smiling and always giving 100% effort. We had fun dancing and playing theatre games with the youth while adding a different piece of the performance every week.

In small groups, the youth shared with us the dreams they have for their futures, the dreams they have for their families, and the dreams they have for their world. Some examples were to play professional soccer, to go to college, to buy houses for their moms, to be kind, to give back to the community, and to help others. The youth used Tableaux, which is a frozen picture that represents a story, to express their dreams in the performance. The Youth studied the words of Dr. Martin Luther King in his famous speech “I Have a Dream” and recited phrases from it with movement during the performance.

On the day of the performance you could feel the excitement and jitters in the room as we practiced our piece at the Sorenson Unity Center before the show. Once the youth came out on stage in their bright matching Hartland t-shirts, you could feel the energy and the love as they recited, “We are Hartland bright and fun, watch out world ‘cuz here we come!” The audience participated in our dance routines by clapping with us and even shared their hopes and dreams after the performance! The Hartland Youth had so much fun performing in front of their fellow students and the community. They really shined! Hopefully they will be able to take the skills they learned and use them to shine in all aspects of their life.

Content provided by Carly Taylor, University of Utah Theatre Teaching student.

Story originally published by 


Gavin Yehle, 2019 Outstanding Senior

10 Apr , 2019  

Congratulations to Gavin Yehle, our 2019 Department of Theatre Outstanding Student!

Gavin is a dedicated and compassionate leader in the department who graduated with a BFA from the Actor Training Program in 2018, and is now graduating with a BFA in Stage Management.

During his time in the Department, he has appeared in Our Country’s GoodYou Never Can TellThe Two Noble Kinsmen, and Arcadia. He has stage managed or assistant stage managed on such shows as CompanyAmahl and the Night VisitorsJulius CaesarThe Beautiful Game, and The Importance of Being Earnest.

In addition to acting and stage managing, he also has sound designed, mixed and assisted sound on various shows including You Never Can TellSteel Pier, Bring It On: The Musical, American Idiot, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Recently he was the lighting designer for The Rivals and has helped with lighting on various projects inside and outside of the department.

The Department of Theatre faculty nominated Gavin because of his commitment to the department, his fellow students, and the theatre community. Serving as a member of the Student Advisory Committee throughout his time as a student, he has a vested interest in the continued success of the department and of his fellow classmates, helping with various student-led projects and productions. Outside the University, he’s worked at various companies including University of Utah Youth Theatre where he got his start in theatre (thank you Penny!), as well as Salt Lake Acting Company, The Grand Theatre, and Pioneer Theatre Company. He appreciates all the support he’s gotten from his professors, family, and friends.

He is a recipient of an Honors at Entrance Scholarship, Department of Theatre Scholarship, Magic Space Entertainment Scholarship, Christine Macken Theatre Scholarship, and the College of Fine Arts Advisory Board Scholarship.


“American Pride” by PADP Alumna, Iris Salazar at Plan-B Theatre

1 Apr , 2019  

Department of Theatre Performing Arts Design Program alumna, Iris Salazar premiered her play, American Pride as one of four short plays that comprised “…Of Color” at Plan-B Theatre Company in March, 2019.

Story below retrieved from

Playwright Iris Salazar was born in Gomez, Palacios, Durango, Mexico. She has lived in Salt Lake City since she was eight months old and became a citizen in 2000. A member of Plan-B’s Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop, she makes her playwriting debut this season with a very, very dark comedy about making America great again: “American Pride” is one of four short plays that comprise …OF COLOR, premiering in March of 2019.

I knew when I signed up for the Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop that I wanted to write a piece that reflected my political thoughts. I am not a politician, and I have never been able to articulate or debate politics in any way. I went through a torrent of emotions as I watched Donald Trump attack groups of people and brag about his sexual predatory behavior during his campaign but I naively believed that we would never allow this man to preside over our country. My disappointment, anger, and sadness were far too large to measure and simply get over as some would suggest. I found myself posting everything anti-Trump that I could post on social media. In the process, I discovered that people who I knew, went to church with and even admired were supportive and defensive of this individual.

One day I saw a picture of an acquaintance on social media standing next to Mike Pence. She is an educated, well-to-do and respected Christian Lady. She studied politics, is in-the-know when it comes to political policies and she is persuasive. That picture was the beginning of my short play. As a person of color, I didn’t think I could write a play about white racists, but white people write about people of color all the time, and not always in a good light. So I took what I saw and created “American Pride.” This was not only a fantastic writing workshop for artists of color but, on a personal level, it was a way for me to work through my emotions surrounding our current political state.



“Sweat” at Pioneer Theatre ft. Theatre Faculty

1 Apr , 2019  

Lynn Nottage’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning play, Sweat starring Actor Training Program Head Chris DuVal is now playing at Pioneer Theatre through Saturday, April 13.

The poignant and powerful play examines race, economics, personal and collective identity, and what it means to be human. Dramaturg and Theatre Studies Professor Alexandra Harbold asks the question, “Is the “American Dream” still alive? And if so, who gets to pursue it?”

Set during divisive economic conditions in a small manufacturing town in Pennsylvania, Sweat takes us on the journey of nine people—friends, co-workers, mothers and sons, former spouses and lovers. —as their lives intersect as they try to hold onto, or reach for, the American Dream in the face of the increasingly precarious and divisive economic conditions of America at the dawn of the new millennium.

SWEAT Now-April 13 | tickets available here.

Contains strong language.

Hassiem Muhammad (Chris), Christopher DuVal (Stan) and Callum Adams (Jason) | Courtesy of Pioneer Theatre Company



New Department of Theatre fabrication tool takes role in upcoming “The Rivals” production

14 Mar , 2019  

by guest bloggers Michaela Funtanilla amd April Goddard 

Imagination is the only limitation for Department of Theatre set and prop design students, thanks to the department’s acquisition of a state-of-the-art Shopbot CNC machine. It was purchased by an anonymous donor in summer 2018.

“Our production capabilities have in the past been greatly limited in time and budget. By having CNC technology available in our small shop, we can now think and create with fewer constraints,” said Department of Theatre’s Technical Director, Kyle Becker.

Similar to a 3D printer, the Shopbot CNC uses computer drawings (CAD) to operate. But instead of additive manufacturing, the Shopbot cuts out shapes from materials like wood, plastic, foam soft metal, and composites.

The machine can print up to an 8×4 ft sheet of material—larger 3D designs require cutting out multiple pieces to then assemble into a sculpture. Prior to owning this CNC tool, limited projects were outsourced, but this was too expensive to do regularly.

Now that the Department of Theatre owns its own CNC tool, the possibilities are endless, and projects that took days to build can be completed in minutes.

“We can ask the machine to 3D carve and 2D cut without these tasks consuming time and money that can go to other areas like assembly and painting,” said Becker.

CNC machines are standard technology in the performance art design industry. Students can receive training on the CNC tool though the department’s Computer Modeling and Design course, and become more competitive for set design jobs in theatre, film, and theme parks. Becker said he would eventually like to partner with local high school theatre programs to increase CNC machine education.

The Rivals opens 4/5 and will be the first set to highlight the Shopbot’s capabilities as the set requires intricate architectural facades. Buy your tickets at


Original article by The Finer Points Blog


MAGNIFYING, No. 18: Alexandra Harbold

1 Mar , 2019  

For this episode of MAGNIFYING we spoke with Department of Theatre Assistant Professor of Directing and Co-Founder & Co-Artistic Director of the Flying Bobcat Theatrical LaboratoryAlexandra Harbold. Our creative community here at the College of Fine Arts is diverse and wide spread. With the goal of gaining a deeper knowledge and awareness of the people within our community, we bring you MAGNIFYING, a series dedicated to showcasing the talent of our students, faculty, and staff.

Tell us about yourself: Name, where you are from, what you do and how you got into in your field of work
My name is Alexandra Harbold. I grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia and earned my bachelor’s at Middlebury College in Vermont and my masters at the University of London, Goldsmiths College. My grandparents met playing opposite one another in a production of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, so theatre always felt encoded in the DNA and lore of our family.

What has surprised you the most in your life?
Where we find and make our homes and lives. Having grown up on the East Coast, I always expected to land there. When I was in London for grad school, I felt like I’d found home. Which made coming back to the States challenging in new ways – I found myself looking for that kinship I felt to London and couldn’t really find it. I’ve lived in New York City, Seattle, and Chicago… When we moved to Salt Lake City for my husband’s work, we thought it was a stopgap and that we would only be here for a year or two. That was in 2004.

What do you wish you had known/been told?
I wish I’d recognized that the sense of not knowing enough that used to get me tangled in knots was only problematic because I thought I was supposed to ‘get it’ the first time. As if our capacity to understand and create are fixed points, our once and future reality. Now I recognize that creativity and craft grow in direct correspondence to curiosity and resilience/stubbornness. In a SITI Company blog a few years ago, Artistic Director/author Anne Bogart wrote about the necessity of deep practice, referencing neuroscientists’ discovery that ‘only after 10,000 hours of practice is real progress and innovation possible.’
So I keep working towards that 10,000 hours.

Original post by CFA The Finer Points Blog


WOMANSPLAINING? by “Men on Boats” Director Sarah Shippobotham

26 Feb , 2019  


by Director Sarah Shippobotham

When asked to direct this show I initially didn’t see what all the fuss was about. So what that ten men were being played by ten women? We’ve turned male roles into female ones many times before—we did a female-forward Julius Caesar last semester—because we have always had such strong women in our program, often outnumbering the men, and we have tried hard to give them the opportunities they deserve. I have always been aware of the gender disparity in theatre and I have always decried it; and yet I still didn’t think the gender make up of this play was anything noteworthy. How wrong I was!

Being in a rehearsal room with fourteen young minds, including ten actors, three stage managers and one assistant director/movement director—of whom only two are male identifying—has actually been an eye-opening experience for me. I have learned so much about myself and what it is to be true to my own strength as a woman; about how privileged I was to have a mostly single-sex education; about how fearless many of these young women in the show are in their exploration of their roles in this world; about how we can listen to a lone male voice without it coming off as mansplaining (even though I was worried it may), and about how much work there still is to be done to give women the space they deserve as a matter of course without needing to talk about it because it is still an issue.

Jacklyn Backhaus said that she wrote this play because she wanted to write an adventure play. While writing it she realized she couldn’t be in it, as it was an all-male adventure. To change that, she wrote it for women to play the roles of John Wesley Powell and his crew. She has been asked why she didn’t write a story about women and did she discover women’s stories as she wrote it. She wanted to tell the Powell story. And she did encounter females’ stories along the way, but they had to be looked for as most of our historical documentation puts men’s—and mostly white men’s—stories on show, hiding or overlooking those of the “others” who helped to shape the world.

I love seeing the women of our theatre department taking up male-sized spaces, having fun with each other as they embark on Powell’s epic journey. And I hope you too will value the experience of seeing so many women on stage together at one time.

MARCH 1-10 in Studio 115

Tickets: 801-581-7100


The 10th Annual Edward Lewis Festival, Feb. 10 at the SLC Library

5 Feb , 2019  

The Edward Lewis Legacy

When Edward Lewis was a student at San Jose State University, he discovered that their theatre department had never done a black play. In 1971 he created People Productions, a theatre company designed to bring together underserved youth with community artists which donated all of it’s profits to the Glaucoma Foundation, to fight a disease from which both his mother and his grandmother suffered.

He later revived People Productions in Los Angeles, where he directed and acted in plays by Eugene O’Neill, Lonne Elder (of the original Raisin in the Sun cast), and Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Gordone. After his son Edward Lewis Jr. graduated from the University of Utah, Edward Sr. moved to Salt Lake City. By that time Department of Theatre Professor Dr. Richard Scharine had been teaching African-American theatre at the U for nearly 20 years, and a former student of his, Karen Alexander (who graduated from the Department of Theatre in the late 80’s) connected the two.

Together, Lewis and Scharine revived People Productions in the summer of 2000 with James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner, performed in the Department of Theatre’s Studio 115. People Productions continued creating diverse theatrical experiences for the next 17 years, ending in April 2017 with August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. During that time Edward played leading roles in such plays as Lonne Elder’s Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, Charles Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play, August Wilson’s Jitney, Richard Wesley’s The Mighty Gents for People Productions, and Rita Dove’s The Darker Face of the Earth.

Edward Lewis died of pancreatic cancer in 2009, and that winter (with several plays featuring black actors being performed) Jerry Rapier had the idea of marketing them all under the title “The Edward Lewis Black Theatre Festival.” The Festival has continued yearly in the month of February, usually in the Salt Lake City Public Library auditorium, with several different local theaters contributing short plays or scenes from their current productions.

The 10th Annual Edward Lewis Theatre Festival Performances include:

University of Utah Adjunct Assistant Professor Dr. Lynn DeBoeck’s The Lynchpin Life which brings together Civil Rights pioneer Ida B. Wells with a Black Rights Matter woman of today.

GUISE by Chris Curlett and DoLs by Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin (Plan-B Theatre) · Script-In-Hand readings of two short plays-in-progress from Plan-B’s Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop.

Me Too Monologues (Wasatch Theatre Company)

Let Me Down Easy (Canary Down the Mine) · Written by Anna Deavere Smith, founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at New York University.

The 10th Annual Edward Lewis Theatre Festival
Sunday, February 10
2 to 5 p.m.
Salt Lake City Public Library
FREE admission


“The Live Creature and Ethereal Things” FEB 1-2 at the Capitol Theatre

25 Jan , 2019  

Photo Credit: Tori Duhaime

The Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company presents, ‘the live creature and ethereal things’ Feb. 1-2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre

This production is in collaboration with Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory, founded by University of Utah Assistant Professors, Robert Scott Smith and Alexandra Harbold.

the live creature and ethereal things’ draws inspiration from the Red Fred Project which collaborates with children living in extraordinary circumstances (rare diseases, critical illnesses, life-limiting situations) and asks them the question: If you could write a book for the entire world to read, what would it be about? Their stories are full of colorful characters both humorous and wise.

Guest performer Robert Scott Smith joins the company on this curious, shapeshifting, and theatrical quest. Flying Bobcat’s adaptation with storytelling with both English and Spanish, explores the power of storytelling and forming connections in a magical theatrical quest to prove that every voice matters.

Choreography by Artistic Director Daniel Charon, storyline in collaboration with Alexandra Harbold and Robert Scott Smith of Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory, and original score created by John Paul Hayward. Additional support provided by Mary Jane O’Connor, the Price Family Foundation, and Zions Bank. Music commissioned by the Charles and Joan Gross Family Foundation.

Tickets: $35 ($40 day of)

Purchase Tickets:

Rehearsal photos by Tori Duhaime


Alumni Spotlight: Ash Patlan

25 Jan , 2019  

Ash Patlan on the left in “Halfway” by Emily Schwend

Tell us about yourself: Name, where you are from, what theatre emphasis you did, graduation year, what you do and how you got into your field of work?

Hi! I’m Ash Patlan. I’m from Sandy, Utah, and I graduated from the Actor Training Program in the Spring of 2018. I’m currently acting in the Professional Training Company at the Tony Award-winning Actors Theatre of Louisville. As a member of the Professional Training Company, I’ve been able to perform in many shows put on for the community of Louisville, Kentucky, and have been able to dive headfirst into the professional world of new works. In my time at Actors Theatre, I’ve originated a role in the world premiere of a site-specific new play by celebrated Humana Festival Playwright, Mara Nelson-Greenberg; I’ve performed a fully produced run of my own original work on the Actors Theatre Stage; I’ve played Petunia Fezziwig in the 43-performance run of  Louisville’s traditional classic, Fifth Third Bank’s A Christmas Carol; and I am about to start rehearsals for the world premiere of the new play, We’ve Come To Believe, that will be featured in the 43rd Humana Festival of New American Plays.

I was first introduced to Actors Theatre when I was a junior in the ATP, as we auditioned for the Director of the Professional Training Company during his recruitment trip to the U. I completely took advantage of the fact that this industry professional was coming to Utah — just to audition and meet us —  and I used that time to really foster a good professional relationship. I made sure I sent thank you emails after he left, that I kept in contact with him from time to time, and that I auditioned for him again when he came back my senior year. It worked. After I auditioned for him again my senior year, he immediately recognized me from my video submission when I formally applied for the company and the rest is history.

“Fifth Third Bank’s A Christmas Carol” at Actors Theatre of Louisville

How did your experience in the U’s Department of Theatre help you as a professional?

There is no way in the world that I would be where I am today without the things that I gathered from my time in the ATP. Being in this program gave me all of the tools necessary in order to survive and succeed in this immensely difficult field. The quality of the education that I received from the ATP is of such a high quality that it easily rivals anything I could have ever learned from going to any acting school on the East Coast. I daily use the warm up techniques that I’ve learned from all of those Voice and Speech and Singing for the Actor classes; I meditate and focus myself and the characters I become before, during, and after stepping out on stage with the skills I’ve obtained from all of those Movement and Butoh classes; and I tackle any script and balance the maths and the humanity of the text with the mastery I’ve acquired through through the years of Shakespeare and Acting classes at the U. Honestly, I am so glad I went there.

What is your favorite Utah memory?

I miss everything about Utah, but I especially miss the U. My favorite moment was the last Finals Week of my senior year and seeing all of my classmates and friends from all 4 graduating classes perform . I thought it was really special to go to each person’s final and get to see them in completely in their element and get to cheer them on. I also really liked getting to perform my senior project, MAYFLOWER, and I felt extremely supported by my classmates, friends and faculty in the audience. It became such an important moment for me to create and perform my own work and it really gave me the courage to keep working on it. I eventually went on to further develop MAYFLOWER at Actors Theatre and got to perform a run of it on the same stage where plays by Obie Award-winning playwright, Lucas Hnath, have first premiered. Honestly, what a special time to get together to celebrate one another’s work — it really is magical.

 What advice do you have for recent grads?

My advice for recent grads is to hit the ground running as soon as you receive that diploma. DO NOT GET LAZY. Have a set of goals of where you want to go and what you want to do and hustle like your life depends on it. You literally have everything you need to succeed, so if you want it, you can make it happen. Research everything, stay in touch with your contacts, be prepared,  stay hungry, and stay humble. You’ll be surprised where you just might end up if you do.


Youth Theatre Director Penny Caywood attends Latinx Festival

22 Jan , 2019  

From L to R, top to bottom: Niños Que Fueron Grandes, Tomás and the Library Lady, Cenicienta, Epic Tales from the Land of Melanin, Coatlicue 2.0 “La Diosa Que Vino del Aire” Picture from

Penny Caywood was invited to attend the 2019 Latinx Theatre Commons Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) Sin Fronteras Festival and Convening. Caywood has been the Artistic Director of the University of Utah’s Youth Theatre Program for twelve years. As the program has grown, Caywood’s involvement in the community has as well. She’s presented at several art integration and teaching training workshops throughout the state and has been involved in dozens of local productions.

This year’s festival will take place at the University of Texas from Jan. 24-26. Caywood will be among the artists, scholars, and educators across the Americas to experience theatre with youths. Five plays will be featured during the Festival, while the Convening focuses on workshops, panels, discussions, and artmaking.

“I am excited to be a part of HowlRound’s Latinx Theatre Commons where I will have a chance to celebrate my cultural identity and my stories and have time to think about how that can apply to our community in Utah.”

Caywood’s upcoming play is a reimagined Alice, based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The play’s cast are the young actors of the Youth Theatre program. It will be showing in Kingsbury Hall this April.



The Lynchpin Life

10 Jan , 2019  

Ada, played by Michelle Love-Day (left), checks messages while Ida B. Wells, played by Robin Renee, reads part of an editorial on lynching.

A question I continue to ask myself as a theatre practitioner and scholar is, why is live performance not a part of our teaching? To teach the art form I love, I should be using live performance to do it. This impulse drove me to apply for a teaching grant which has funded my project to bring liveness into the classroom, supporting students’ learning experience.

Initially, the project only included theatre classes. When Dr. Mangun approached me to work with her in the spring of 2018, I was very excited at the prospect. Dr. Mangun asked me to arrange a performance in her class about Ida B. Wells, a remarkable journalist in the late 1800’s who investigated reasons why Black men were being lynched. She published three long pamphlets with her findings and observations between 1892 and 1900. Since I did not have access to a play about her, I wrote my own. As a white woman, this posed a significant challenge as I did not wish the voices I was bringing to the fore to be disingenuous. My feminist approach to making theatre is to bring other, more knowledgeable people and resources into my process, which is what I did.

The result was “The Lynchpin Life,” a conversation across time between Ida and a contemporary woman (Ada) dealing with both the history of lynching in this country and a current scourge of our culture, the shooting of unarmed black men by law enforcement. I had hoped the story might engage the students to remember what they might never have been taught, but also to see more clearly what they think they already know. I am now looking forward to this piece having a future (a possible performance at the Edward Lewis Festival this February) as well as making more partnerships in other departments to bring scenes to their students and help them connect with the humanity that lies at the heart of the knowledge we aim to disseminate. To use one of Ida’s lines in the play, “if people grow too comfortable in their ignorance, you have to jangle to get their attention!” I hope this play continues to toll and reverberate through the students and faculty who experience it.

by guest writer Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theatre Lynn Deboeck

Lynn Deboeck, a professor in the theatre department, has been working for the past 18 months on a project to enhance curriculum through performance — bringing topics to life, so to speak. Part of this project took place on October 29, 2018 when two actors performed a play she wrote for my mass communication history class (COMM 5630). The play, “The Lynchpin Life,” juxtaposes the true story of anti-lynching activist Ida Wells with a fictional character who becomes an activist in Black Lives Matter. The goal is to help students gain a different appreciation for Wells while also seeing how history influences current events. Deboeck is using this experience as part of a pilot project funded by a University Teaching Grant called “Teaching Theatre with Liveness.” She has given several performers opportunities to learn their craft by participating in live theater, performing for theatre classes and receiving compensation for doing so; Deboeck also seeks to engage in other cross-disciplinary collaborations with faculty to help enrich the education of U students–“The Lynchpin Life” is the first such engagement.


Alumni Spotlight: Catherine Heiner

4 Jan , 2019  

Name: Catherine (Cate) Heiner
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Program: Honors BA Theatre Studies (also Honors BA Writing and Rhetoric, both class of 2017), emphasis in dramaturgy and playwriting
What I Do: Dramaturgy

How I Got Into It: When I was in high school, I loved English and theatre, and I could never decide which one I wanted to pursue to study. Then, I realized that if I did dramaturgy I could do research in both areas. I loved dramaturgy because I got to use my knowledge of performance, history, writing, and analysis to good use.

Experience at the U: During my time at the U, I was able to work on a number of productions. I worked on everything from Shakespeare to musicals to contemporary drama, which added a lot of variety to my experience. Working with so many different directors helped me understand how my position changes based on the needs of a specific production and creative team, and I enjoyed finding unique opportunities to collaborate with other artists in meaningful ways.

Favorite Utah Memory: I worked in athletics for all four years I was at the U. This made for a really interesting intersection between theatre and the rest of the university, and I used it as inspiration for a writing project in Tim Slover’s Intro to Playwriting course. After the semester ended, Tim told me my work had been selected for the New Play Workshop the following spring. Not only was the workshop itself an awesome experience, but I loved seeing the two worlds of athletics and performance come together for the staged reading. I loved being able to share my artistic life with my work friends, and it was awesome to see the actors reaching a new demographic on campus. It was the kind of cross-connection that benefits all departments and students.

Advice for Recent Grads:

  • Keep in touch with people you enjoy working with. (This includes professors and students.) You never know who will help point you in the right direction for your work.
  • Ask for help—there are other people out there who have had similar journeys.
  • Say yes as much as you can to as many different opportunities as you can. It will probably be scary and a little overwhelming, but it will also be worth it. Just keep breathing.
  • Stay humble, stay kind, stay grateful—the world is small and the world of theatre is even smaller.


HIPPOLYTA Feb 8-10 in PAB 202

20 Dec , 2018  

Hippolyta is a collaborative project created by the University of Utah Department of Theatre students playing in PAB 202, February 8-10, 2019.
William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is reimagined and retold through the eyes of one of the play’s most undermined characters, Hippolyta. Through this immersive exploration of movement, color, and magic the veil between dreams and reality thins, allowing for mischief to ensue.
Seating is limited, reservations not claimed will be forfeited at the door. Additional rush seating will be available on a first come-first served basis.


Theatre Professor Gage Williams to participate at the “Olympics” for performance designers

12 Nov , 2018  

University of Utah’s former Department of Theatre Chair, Gage Williams, has been invited to participate at the 2019 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ).

PQ is the biggest international performance design event in the world. Only 51 USA designers were invited to showcase their work and discuss their careers. Williams’ set of Romeo and Juliet at Lake Tahoe Shakespeare will be featured at PQ, making this his third time to participate in 25 years. Williams’ set designs for Anne of Green Gables at Childsplay Theatre Co and Hamlet at Idaho Shakespeare Festival were selected by PQ in 1999 and 2003.

“The set design for Rome and Juliet is a fragment of a Renaissance building, being supported by a scaffold.” Williams explains.  The city longs for recovery and some sense of stability in this production of Romeo and Juliet, and Verona is a place of danger, a war-torn city just recovering from the first World War. A single wall in a state of ruin set against the enormous beauty of Lake Tahoe juxtaposes the central themes of this play. “At times the set strives to capture the beauty of an ancient ruin in the setting sun against the greenery of the trees and blue of the lake while foreshadowing the ultimate total demise of these two families. By the end of the play, only the tomb and fragments of the wall are visible through the edgy lighting, and the beauty of the lake and trees are lost to darkness.”

Williams started teaching at U of U in 1994 and served as chair from 2009-2018. He was the resident set designer for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival (ISF) from 1995- 2008, and continues to design for ISF and for other regional theaters and opera companies including, Great Lakes Theatre, Actors of Theatre Phoenix, Childsplay Theatre Co, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Salt Lake Acting Company, Pioneer Theatre Company, and Utah Opera Company. He has designed numerous productions for the U’s Department of Theatre, including Hello, Dolly! at Kingsbury Hall, that was featured in the quarterly USITT publication TD&T this past summer.

From 1990 to 1994 he lived in LA and was a staff Art Director for Bruce Ryan Production Design. During that time, he art directed productions for ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, HBO, Showtime, ESPN, Disney, VH-1, and MTV. Williams received a CableACE Award for his art direction of the Showtime film Mastergate. Since 1994 he has art directed numerous comedy specials for HBO, including productions featuring   George Carlin, Bill Mahar, and the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO. from 1995-2008.

Williams is currently on sabbatical from U of U for the 2018-2019 academic year. He will return to teaching at the U in Fall 2019.


BIG LOVE more timely than ever Nov 9-18 in the Babcock Theatre

31 Oct , 2018  

The University of Utah’s Department of Theatre ends the fall season with Charles L. Mee’s Big Love, an elaborate, updated retelling of one of the oldest plays in Western history, The Danaids by Aeschylus. Directed by Robert Scott Smith, the production runs Nov. 9-18 in the Babcock Theatre in the lower level of the Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 South and University Street.

Big Love, which has nothing to do with polygamy or the late cable TV series, tells the story of 50 brides who flee their 50 grooms and seek refuge in an Italian villa. Mayhem ensues, complete with grooms in flight suits, women throwing themselves to the ground, occasional pop songs, romantic dances, and even a bride falling in love.

Written originally for the Humana Festival, Louisville, in 2000, this play is topically relevant by tackling the issue of sexual misconduct that prompted the #MeToo movement, and challenging the many misconceptions of gender and sexuality that still exist today. In a 2003 interview with Open Stages newsletter, Mee explained, “…it’s all about refugees and gender wars and men and women trying to find what will get them through the rubble of dysfunctional relationships, and anger and rage and heartache.”

Big Love is timely, important, and a spectacular theatre piece the audience won’t forget.

General $18
UofU Fac/Staff $15
Seniors (60+)/Military $15
Free for UofU students with valid student ID, must show Ucard in person to request a ticket
Student $8.50


Gynocentric “Julius Caesar” Oct 26-Nov 4

17 Oct , 2018  

The U’s Department of Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, set in a futuristic Rome run by women. Guest directed by David Carey, the production runs Oct. 26-Nov. 4 in Studio 115. 

The vision for this futuristic, women-ruled production of Julius Caesar comes from guest director, David Carey. Carey is a UK National Teaching Award-winning Fellow who has worked as a Voice and, Text Director on over 30 productions at the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and who has taught at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He made the decision to cast 13 women and 5 men in what he calls a “gender-flipped version of Shakespeare’s play.” The casting led to the development of a conceptual Rome set in 2118, where Caesar has declared herself “Mother of the Motherland.”

“The increasing domino-effect of climate change across the world led to the complete disruption of advanced technology and the collapse of the social order by 2048,” Carey says about this production’s time and setting. “Seventy years later, women have established themselves as the dominant power in the post-technological world following the failure of male leadership, while men have become the ‘weaker sex.’”

This 400-year-old political drama, based on true events from Roman history deals with political topics that are timely and, significant to audiences today. Carey explains, “The play deals with the consequences of authoritarianism and idealism in the political sphere. At a time when populism, authoritarianism, and the idealisms of left and right are threatening the basic tenets of democracy, it feels right to be mounting a production of Julius Caesar.

A post-performance discussion about power and dominance of women on the theatre stage will be held on Friday, November 2, immediately following the evening 7:30 p.m. performance. Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theatre and of Gender Studies, Lynn Deboeck will be leading the discussion with production dramaturg, Alia Richards where audiences are invited to engage in the conversation.

Photo by Todd Collins. Left to right: Mary-Helen Pitman as Mark Antony, Lindsie Kongsore as Marcus Brutus, Selah McKenna as Julius Caesar, and Isabela Crews as Caius Cassius.

Julius Caesar at a glance:

Dates and Times: Previews Oct. 20-22 at 7:30 p.m. The show runs Oct. 26-28 and Nov. 1-4 at 7:30 p.m. with matinees on Nov. 3 and 4 at 2:00 p.m.

Post-Performance Discussions: Nov. 2 immediately following the evening 7:30 p.m. performance.

Location: Studio 115 in the Performing Arts Building, 240 S. 1500 East. Parking is available in the visitor’s lot to the south of the theatre, at Rice-Eccles Stadium or on Presidents Circle.

Tickets: General Admission tickets are $18, University of Utah faculty and staff are $15, University of Utah students are free with UCard and all other students with valid student ID are $8.50. Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100, online at or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall.


Audio Tour: “Great Ascents” by Emily Nash

16 Oct , 2018  

So, I made a thing.

A year ago I was beginning to write the grant for this project. I had seen Remote Mitte by Rimini Protokoll earlier that year in Berlin, and I was really interested in audio tours as an immersive, theatrical experiment. I wrote about re-contextualizing locales, sharing stories dismissed by ageism, engaging people with my city, and, with the help of Robert Scott Smith, I got the grant.

In December of 2017, I sent out flyers to every assisted living facility in Salt Lake, calling for storytelling volunteers. I got one reply. This tour is a collection of his stories. Along the way, equipment broke, feelings got hurt, and publishing platforms disappeared into the ether after being acquired by massive speaker companies (I’M LOOKING AT YOU BOSE). But my friends and faculty were always there to work through the hiccups, and that was pretty flipp’n awesome. Special thanks to Benjamin Young and Alexander Woods.

This tour isn’t perfect. But it’s personal, political. And it’s probably not like any other audio tour you’ll be listening to in the near future. So go out there and get to know my city.

by Emily Nash, student in the Actor Training Program

Great Ascents

By Emily Nash
Available on VoiceMap Audio Tour
Oct. 6-Nov. 6, 2018

Audio Tour: Great Ascents was made possible by a University of Utah Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) grant. UROP provides undergraduate students and mentors the opportunity to work together on research or creative projects. To find out more about how to apply for a UROP grant, visit:


About Emily Nash

She is a senior in the ATP. Currently she’s the assistant director of  Julius Caesar in Studio 115 at the University of Utah. She is also finishing her massage therapy certification, and lurking, “whoops I mean interning,” at Pioneer Theatre Company. Favorite roles include Maria in Up: The Man in the Flying Chair (Studio 115), Player in Shockheaded Peter (Sackerson), and Carmen in This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing (Arizona State University). Next up you’ll see her in The Rivals in the Babcock Theatre. Lots of love to her friends and family for supporting her shenanigans.



UNVEILED, a one-woman show, by Rohina Malik October 19-20 at the Post Theatre

10 Oct , 2018  

Racism. Hate crimes. Love. Islam. Culture. Language. Life.
Five Muslim women in a post-9/11 world serve tea and uncover what lies beneath the veil in this critically acclaimed one-woman show.

Photo by Sadaf Syed.

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theatre and Adjunct Instructor of Gender Studies, Lynn Deboeck has helped in the coordination to bring Rohina Malik, a Chicago-based playwright and solo-performer to the University of Utah campus to perform her piece, Unveiled at the Post Theatre on Friday, October 19 at 7:00 p.m and Saturday, October 20 at 1:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

Unveiled, has been presented at theaters in the United States, Canada and in the summer of 2016 in South Africa. Rohina has performed the play at the 16th Street Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Next Theater, Brava Theater, Crossroads Theater, Muslim Fest in Canada, Theater project, Baltimore, Voyage Theater Company NYC and Silk Road Rising.  
Unveiled has also been presented at Princeton University, Yale University, NYU, University of Chicago, Stanford University, DePaul University, Loyola University, College of the Atlantic, Bates College, St. Mary’s College, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, Oklahoma State University,  University of Wyoming,  Brigham Young University, College of New Jersey, Washington University, Fordham University, UW Osh Kosh, Concordia University, La Verne University, and many more.  
Rohina has been invited to perform Unveiled at Universities, Churches,  Mosques, Synagogues and Theaters. She was awarded the Y award with the Evanston YWCA for her work to end racism.  

Praise for Unveiled
“Rohina Malik, the hugely talented writer-actress at the center of the Victory Gardens solo show “Unveiled,” is a remarkable new theatrical voice in Chicago. In her rich, upbeat and very enjoyable 70-minute collection of five character studies of Muslim women in modern-day America, Malik gives voice to characters from whom we hear far too little in the theater.”  
–Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune.

A “terrific show… intellectually engrossing work of theater”
— Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune

“Unveiled offers a provocative, insightful and uplifting theater experience.”
Tom Witom, Pioneer Press

“Powerful solo show… five riveting tales of Muslim women”
— Jack Helbig, Chicago Reader

“A compelling 70-minute piece rich with illuminating surprises, drawing the audience into worlds that are both unique and truly universal. It is terrifically entertaining.
— Catey Sullivan, Chicago Examiner

“Rohina’s little masterpiece will further open our eyes”
Alan Bresloff, Steadstyle Chicago

“The stories are important, to be sure, but the cumulative effect is weighty.”
Web Behrens, Chicago Free Press.

“She creates five characters on stage…..I shed a tear or two….Works like this do their bit to bring about peace and harmony and counter hate.  I wish this could visit every school, every church, every mosque, every temple in the country.”  Moira de Swardt

One of the most awaited performances of the 2016 National Arts Festival was Unveiled, written by internationally-acclaimed playwright and actress Rohina Malik.​… Unveiled was written in response to the 9/11 attacks in America and is one of the bravest
and uplifting experiences I have ever had.”
 Khinali Bagwandeen

“Unveiled is a provocative piece of theatre, rich with enlightening surprises that draw the audience into a unique but yet universal world.”  –  Carol Kagezi


Workshop with Fight Master, David Boushey

9 Oct , 2018  

David Boushey, right, the founder of the International Stunt School, throws a fake punch at longtime ISS instructor Daniel Ford Beavis. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

The Department of Theatre at the University of Utah is honored to be hosting Fight Master David Boushey on October 19, 2018 for a master workshop with faculty and students from the Actor Training Program, 9:40-11:35 a.m. in the Performing Arts Building.

Master Boushey is an American stuntman, stunt coordinator, stage fight director and stunt trainer. He is the founder of International Stunt School in Seattle, WA, which is considered the foremost stunt training facility in the film industry. He is also the founder of the United Stuntmen’s Association and the Society of American Fight Directors. He was inducted into the Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame in 1992. Fight Master Boushey is one of fourteen First Masters in North America and the recipient of the Los Angeles Critics Award for Best Fight Choreography in 1981, 1985, and 1991.

During his career 40-year professional career as a stunt coordinator and stunt instructor throughout North America and Europe, he has Coordinated Stunts and Action for 8 Academy Award-Winning actors including Chris Cooper, Brad Dourif, William Hurt, Tommy Lee Jones, Marsha Mason, Jon Voight, Christopher Walken, and Denzel Washington. Other actors he’s trained include Drew Barrymore, Barry Corbin, Anna Faris, Danny Glover, James Earl Jones, Heather Locklear, Mary Tyler Moore, Meg Ryan, Keifer Sutherland, and Elijah Wood.


Alumni Mandy McDonell & John Peterson in CINDERELLA National Tour

28 Sep , 2018  

Mandy McDonell & John Peterson in “Hello, Dolly!” 2016 at Kingsbury Hall

Recent Musical Theatre Program (MTP) graduates, John Peterson and Mandy McDonell will be touring with Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella national tour, launching its 2018-19 season with three performances in Milwaukee, WI, at the Miller High Life Theatre, November 10 and 11, 2018.

John graduated from the MTP in 2018. He says, “I’m thrilled to be on tour for the first time with this magical production of Cinderella!” During his time at the U, he performed in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Hello, Dolly!, Bring It On: The Musical, Cats, Steel Pier (Johnny Adel), and The Beautiful Game (John Kelly). Regionally he appeared in Mamma Mia!, Newsies, Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof at Pioneer Theatre Company, and Mary Poppins at Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Mandy is a San Jose, CA native who graduated from the MTP in 2017. While attending the U, she performed in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumCats, and Hello, Dolly! Regionally she appeared in Fiddler on the Roof (Chava), Oliver! (Charlotte), The Rocky Horror Show, and Mamma Mia! at Pioneer Theatre Company, and Mary Poppins at Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella will be John and Mandy’s 10th show together, including a duet they performed for the Jerry Herman: The Broadway Legacy Concert with the Utah Symphony at Abravanel Hall.

Visit for a full list of tour dates.

Kaitlyn Mayse to Step Back Into the Glass Slippers to Lead CINDERELLA Tour

Kaitlyn Mayse to Step Back Into the Glass Slippers to Lead CINDERELLA Tour

Casting has been announced for the 2018-19 national tour of Cinderella launching in November.

Kaitlyn Mayse steps into the glass slippers in the title role of Ella, and Lukas James Millerplays the role of Prince Topher, Cinderella’s dashing love interest.

The touring cast also features Zina Ellis as Marie, the Fairy Godmother; Sarah Smith as Madame, Ella’s stepmother; Carlos Morales as Lord Pinkleton; Natalie Girard as Gabrielle and Joanna Johnson as Charlotte, Ella’s stepsisters; Nic Casaula as Jean-Michel; and Christopher Swan as Sebastian.

Rounding out the ensemble are Leyla Ali, Beth Anderson, Emily ApplebaumJohn Barsoian, Kyle Caress, Maxwell Carmel, Tyler Eisenreich, Marissa Levesque, Gage Martin, Mandy McDonell, Erica Messonnier, Schuyler Midgett, Victoria Newhuis, John Peterson, Gray Randolph and Kaylene Snarsky.

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA launches its 2018-19 season with three performances in Milwaukee, WI, at the Miller High Life Theatre, November 10 and 11, 2018. Other markets on this year’s tour include Ames, IA; Fort Worth, TX, San Jose, CA; Colorado Springs, CO; Boston, MA; Cleveland, OH; Philadelphia, PA; among others. Please visit for a full list of tour dates.

With its fresh new take on the beloved tale of a young woman who is transformed from a chambermaid into a princess, this hilarious and romantic Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA combines the story’s classic elements – glass slippers, pumpkin, and a beautiful ball along with some surprising twists. More than just a pretty face with the right shoe size, this Cinderella is a contemporary figure living in a fairy-tale setting. She is a spirited young woman with savvy and soul who doesn’t let her rags or her gowns trip her up in her quest for kindness, compassion and forgiveness. She longs to escape the drudgery of her work at home and instead work to make the world a better place. She not only fights for her own dreams, but forces the prince to open his eyes to the world around him and realize his dreams too.

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA has music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and original book by Oscar Hammerstein II. Originally directed by Mark Brokaw and choreographed by Josh Rhodes, the tour is directed by Gina Rattan and choreographed by Lee Wilkins. Music adaptation and arrangements are by David Chase and music supervision is by Greg Anthony Rassen. Orchestrations are by Bill Elliott and are adapted from the original Broadway orchestrations by Danny Troob.

One of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s most popular titles, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLAwas written for television — debuting in 1957 starring Julie Andrews. In 2013, the show made its long-overdue Broadway debut. Along with CINDERELLA, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein‘s legendary musicals include OKLAHOMA!, Carousel, The King and I, South Pacificand The Sound of Music.

Mr. Beane’s book for Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA blends masterfully with the musical’s cherished score with songs including “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible,” “Ten Minutes Ago” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?”

The creative team includes scenic design by Tony Award nominee Anna Louizos, costume design by six-time Tony Award-winner William Ivey Long, lighting design byTony Award-winnerKenneth Posner and sound design by Tony Award nominee Nevin Steinberg.

The Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA tour is produced by Work Light Productions.CINDERELLA was produced on Broadway by Robyn GoodmanJill FurmanStephen KocisEdward Walson, Venetian Glass Productions, The Araca GroupLuigi Caiola & Rose CaiolaRoy FurmanWalt GrossmanPeter May/Sanford RobertsonGlass Slipper Productions LLC/Eric SchmidtTed Liebowitz/James Spry, Blanket Fort Productions and in association with Center Theatre Group.

For more information please visit


From The Director’s Desk: The Joys of a High-Stakes Match Well Played

5 Sep , 2018  

Championship chess is a thrilling world, filled with larger than life personalities, intrigues, and fast paced action. Who knew that watching hyper-intelligent people think could be so interesting? Mix chess with the dynamics of take-no-prisoners international diplomacy, crossed with complicated interpersonal entanglements, and you have the basis of a compelling story. The story of these various attempts at manipulation come together compellingly in Tim Rice, Benny Anderson, and Bjorn Ulvaeus’s musical Chess.

Why this play? This play has been tried in different forms between the West End and Broadway. It has been pretty commonly understood in the industry that neither form worked perfectly. Tim Rice, whose idea this play was, invites a director to continue the work of shaping the telling of this story, its character development, and the interplay of those different worlds. That alone was a compelling reason to work on this material.  ABBA’s score is well known and well loved, and Tim Rice’s lyrics give fuel to the world. It was an exciting prospect for me to dissect this wonderful story, script, and score, and to reimagine the intersections of the characters in order to make their journey touch us across the footlights.

Why now? Current Russian–American sparring cannot help but remind us of the deadly diplomatic tensions of the Cold War. How do we relate to each other as nations and as individuals? How do we know what the other side really wants, really means? How we really function productively?

We in the Chess company have a tremendous respect and admiration for the amazing minds that compete in chess at the championship level. We’ve come to understand the dominance of Russia in the game and the support they have given their most skilled players. The obsession and focus required to participate at this level attracts minds that just don’t turn off. Unfortunately, minds that ignore other aspects of life are easily mis-used. We hope that you will love these characters and their story in this rarified world as much as we have loved creating it all for you.

The collaborative nature of theatre requires that artistry and co-operation from many specialists come together. Our team has been especially brilliant. We have an amazingly talented cast. Musical Director Alex Marshall’s orchestration underscores the drama with passion. Halee Rasmussen’s tilted, raked chess board is a constant tweak to the predicatable. Cole Adams’s inspired lighting keeps us on edge and guessing at what will happen next. Adam Day masterfully brings the voices front while still letting us feel the band in the room. Brenda Van der Wiel created our edgy, surprising costumes. Amanda French wig’s and make-up have added to the off kilter nature of the characters. Amber Lewandowski and her skilled stage management team have kept us focused and on schedule. The Musical Theatre Ensemble supports and broadens the score allowing us to expand the sound.

We have been so blessed with a team that has bonded, and who serve the show with definitive focus and unique sensitivity and talent.

We hope you enjoy the show!

–Denny Berry
Director and Choreographer of Chess The Musical

Musical Theatre Program Head


ATP Alumni in “Wait Until Dark” at Dunes Summer Theatre in Michigan City.

27 Aug , 2018  

ATP Almni, Kalika Rose and Andy Ricci are in the cast of Wait Until Dark at the Dunes Summer Theatre in Michigan City.

Check out the article below from the Chicago Tribune.

Kalika Rose, plays Suzy, a blind woman confronted by Mark Westcott, center, and Patrick Regner as her tormenters, in the stage thriller “Wait Until Dark” at Dunes Summer Theatre Aug. 17-Sept. 2 in Michigan City. (Dunes Summer Theatre)

Director Leigh Selting is a stage sage about the differences between producing a thriller and a murder mystery for theater audiences.

“So many people categorize these two genres as being the same and they are not,” said Selting, who is guiding a cast of five for the Aug. 17-Sept. 2 new run of “Wait Until Dark” at Dunes Summer Theatre in Michigan City.

“A stage thriller, such as ‘Wait Until Dark,’ is more of a suspense melodrama with the audiences wondering what will happen next, in contrast to wondering who is behind a crime such as in a mystery thread. For a thriller, it’s usually the case that the audience knows who the antagonist is and so then, it becomes a matter of what will the final outcome be for all.”

Written by Frederick Knott, it’s Andy Ricci and Kalika Rose, talents familiar to Dunes Theatre audiences, as the leads in “Wait Until Dark,” playing husband and wife Sam and Susan, a couple living in Greenwich Village in the 1960s. Susan is blind, but knows her way around the apartment to live independently, while her husband is away for business travels.

The play’s thriller twist and turns begin after Susan discovers that a doll, gifted to her after Sam’s most recent trip, has secretly been stuffed with a valuable bag of drugs, unbeknownst to her husband. When three murderous thugs attempt to reclaim the contraband from Susan, a nightmarish scenario unfolds during the two-hour stage story.

The play premiered on Broadway in 1966 starring Lee Remick as Susy Hendrix, James Congdon as Sam and Robert Duvall as Harry Roat Jr., the tormenting ringleader of the relentless thugs. The following year, the story was brought to movie screens in 1967 by Warner Bros. and backed by a score by Henry Mancini and starring Audrey Hepburn as Susan, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Sam and Alan Arkin as Roat.

“I’ve previously directed a number of stage mysteries, but not many thrillers,” Selting said.

“And I wasn’t very familiar with this title. In fact, I’d never even seen the film. This is a play that gets very intense as the scenes unfold.”

In addition to the challenges of working with the cast to fine-tune performances during the two and half week rehearsal span, Selting said the set construction was also a “tricky process for details.”

“Because the story is set in the 1960s, many people might think that this doesn’t qualify as a period piece, making it easy for set design elements because it’s thought of as being a modern setting,” Selting said.

“But modern and contemporary are not the right words to describe the time period. It’s more than 50 years ago, and there so much that has changed in decor and device. The furniture and the furnishings have to reflect the time. I call this decade ‘mid-century contemporary.’ It means you have to be concerned with how a door bell chime sounds and make sure you know where to get your hands on a rotary dial phone for our recreation of this apartment.”

Derek Ryan Brummet of Chicago, playing the role of Roat, is making his debut at Dunes Summer Theatre.

An instructor at Chicago’s famed Second City and also a veteran cast member of Chicago’s long-running Irish comedy “Flanagan’s Wake” at Chicago Theater Works, Brummet is originally from Lowell, Ind.

“I wanted to be part of this production for a couple reasons,” Brummet said.

“I did the open audition in Chicago for ‘Wait Until Dark’ because I wanted the summer stage experience of working at Dunes Summer Theatre since it has this great half-century of history for doing all of these wonderful show performances. I was also inspired to do a different kind of role that would be a new experience for me. I’m not usually cast as the bad guy. My character Roat is quite nefarious.”

Brummet describes Roat as a “rich and complicated character with a very specific agenda.”

“There’s so much intrigue and unexpected moments in ‘Wait Until Dark’ to keep audiences drawn to the dynamics between these characters. A good thriller is something unmatched.”

‘Wait Until Dark’
When: 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, Aug. 17-Sept. 2
Where: Dunes Summer Theatre, 288 Shady Oak Drive, Michigan City
Cost: $18 for adults and $15 for students
Information: 219-879-7509;
Philip Potempa is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

Original article from the Chicago Tribune


It’s time to party like a rock star at Arts Bash

20 Aug , 2018  


On Wednesday, Aug. 29 from 11A – 2P, the arts at the University of Utah are taking over the Marriott Library Plaza. We’re talking live performances on a massive stage, interactive art, free food, free T-shirts, free swag, and all the info you could ever want on the different ways to experience the arts on campus.

Hold on,  you know about Arts Pass, right? It’s the one-of-a-kind program that makes it so you can use your UCard to get free or deeply discounted tickets to literally hundreds of arts experiences on campus each year. So you can attend dance performances, concerts, plays, exhibitions, film screenings, and more on the super cheap — and it even includes special student access to the Utah Museum of Fine ArtsUtahPresents and Pioneer Theatre Company.

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Why? Because more and more research is showing the positive impacts of the arts on education. The findings are significant: exposure to the arts is linked with better critical thinking skills, greater social tolerance, a greater likelihood of seeking out art and culture in the future and better workforce opportunities. (Maybe that’s why we issue tens of thousands of tickets to students every year.)

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But, back to the Bash: First things first, pick up a passport from any of the booths, visit other booths to collect stamps, and when your passport is full, visit the Info booth to redeem it for a super soft mint green Arts Pass t-shirt that you can take to get your choice of design screen printed on it right in front of your eyes. Then you’ll grab some food and catch a couple acts on stage.


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We’re so excited to have all five academic units in the College of Fine Arts there to let you know what non-major classes you can take to spice up your class load, how to major in the arts, and give you the scoop-diddy-whoop about what experiences they’re providing throughout the year for all U students, faculty, and staff.


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Plus, we’ll have all three professional arts organizations (UMFA, UtahPresents and Pioneer Theatre Company) there along with our friends from ArtsForceArts Teaching, the Marriott Library’s Creative & Innovation ServicesASUULassonde Entrepreneur Institute, and the Union Programming Council.

And we’re stoked to welcome to the main stage:
• A proper bash kick-off from the U’s new Associate Vice President for the Arts and Dean of the College of Fine Arts, John Scheib
• The Department of Theatre’s musical theatre program will perform numbers from their season opener “CHESS” directed and choreographed by Denny Berry
• Ballet grad student James Wallace will take the stage for a stunning performance
• The School of Music’s Percussion Ensemble will host a not-to-be-missed drum circle
• And the modern dance freshman class will do its famous improv jam on the plaza (fan favorite every year!)

Not to mention, we have a couple surprises up our sleeves…

So, come. Experience. And start thinking differently.

Original post from The Finer Points Blog


Recent Graduate, Mark Macey premieres his play “Shooter” at Salt Lake Fringe Festival

31 Jul , 2018  

Recent University of Utah Theatre graduate, Mark Macey, will premiere his play Shooter at the Great Salt Fringe Festival, August 3-12, 2018.

Shooter had it’s first staged reading on April 23, 2018 as part of the New Plays Workshop class taught by Department of Theatre Professors Tim Slover and Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell. During the New Plays Workshop class taught every spring semester, plays are developed through discussion and exploratory workshops over the course of the semester. The development process culminates with student-run staged readings where members may serve variously as actors, directors, dramaturgs,stage managers or producers depending upon area of interest and the requirements of each play.

Shooter tells the unusual story of a man and his gun. Macey says he began writing the play after recognizing similarities between the perpetrators of mass shootings in the United States, himself, and men in general.

Shooter is rated R for violence, strong language, and nudity.

Tickets for the Great Salt Fringe Festival are available at:

Pictures from Shooter rehearsal for the Great Salt Fringe Festival 2018


Alumni Spotlight: Mark Fossen

20 Jul , 2018  

Welcome to our series highlighting graduates who are surviving (and even thriving!) out in the “real world.”

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Mark Fossen, a Salt Lake actor and director. I graduated in 2014 with a BA in Theatre Studies. I act and direct locally, including upcoming work at The Grand Theatre and PYGmalion Productions. I also teach in the department, as well as at Westminster College.

How did your experience in the U’s Department of Theatre help you as a professional?

While I had been acting and directing professionally for some time before finishing my degree, my experience in the Department allowed me to achieve my goal of teaching. I was able to TA in the department for Dr. Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell and Dr. Bob Nelson, as well as work with the Undergraduate Student Experts on Teaching program. It also, of course, let me finish my degree (at the age of 44) so I could then go on to complete an MFA and be able to teach at the college level.

What is your favorite Utah memory?

Not that I don’t have many wonderful memories, but after returning to school at 40, finding professors who helped me every step along the way, and then finally graduating after 20 years of thinking I might never finish my degree … it’s hard to not say “graduation.” It meant a lot to walk that day, with my wife and daughters in the audience.

What advice do you have for recent grads?

Life is long, and a lot is going to happen. Get started on your career and your life, but if you hit bumps along the way (and it’s likely you will) you should know that it’s ok. It’s not all going to go according to plan, but you’ll find surprises along the way.

Share your story! Are you an alum with a story to share? We want to hear about it! Email


Recent Grad Spotlight: Kelsey June Jensen

20 Jul , 2018  

Tell us about yourself.

Hi! My name is Kelsey June Jensen and I am from Salt Lake City, Utah. In May of 2018, I graduated with a BFA from the Actor Training Program. Currently, I am residing in the Hollywood Hills with an internship at the renowned Groundlings Theatre and School. My internship mainly consists of ticket sales, customer service, and making sure the theatre is running efficiently overall. In exchange for my work in their box office, I am being rewarded with free classes, which is such an incredible honor to study and train alongside some of the best comedians of our time. Being in Los Angeles has been amazing thus far and feels like exactly where I need to be. There is so much opportunity out here! In my free time, I am constantly auditioning/submitting for different projects in Los Angeles and have been fortunate to work on some already! It’s been incredible so far.

How did your experience in the U’s Department of Theatre help you as a professional?

I would not be the woman I am today without the ATP’s discipline. I am far more hardworking, diligent, persistent, and passionate than I was freshman year of college… And I truly owe that all to the ATP. This is a cutthroat industry and if I hadn’t had this rigorous education to whip me into shape, I don’t know if I would be pursuing my dreams in Los Angeles right now. It gave me the confidence, training, and motivation I needed to become the artist I aspire to be. Any audition room I walk into, one of my professors pops in my head to say, “be confident and breathe.” Seriously. Every. Single. Audition. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

What is your favorite Utah memory?

I miss the sunsets. I also miss the grid system. A LOT. But I think one of my best memories happened during my senior project. There was a moment after an awkward stage kiss occurred and the audience completely lost it. They were laughing hysterically for quite some time and it took my partner and I every inch of our being’s not to break character and join in with them. It was the absolute best feeling in the world. I felt like I had worked so hard for the past 4 years just to reach that one small moment of pure exhilaration… It was one of the most rewarding and amazing experiences of my life.

What advice do you have for current students?

I remember thinking as a freshman, “Am I really cut out for this?” It turns out, I absolutely was and so are YOU! You are much smarter and stronger than you think. Push yourself, listen to your professors, and know that it’s all going to be worth it! Seriously. It may not seem like it now, but you are going to miss the late nights, early mornings, over-caffeination, and insane schedule. Cherish every moment you have.


Share your story! Are you an alum with a story to share? We want to hear about it! Email


MAGNIFYING, No. 13: Josiane Dubois

19 Jun , 2018  

For this episode of MAGNIFYING we spoke with Communications and Marketing Coordinator for the Department of Theatre, Josiane Dubois. Our creative community here at the College of Fine Arts is diverse and wide spread. With the goal of gaining a deeper knowledge and awareness of the people within our community, we bring you MAGNIFYING, a series dedicated to showcasing the talent of our students, faculty, and staff.

Tell us about yourself: Name, where you are from, what you do and how you got into in your field of work.
My name is Josiane Dubois. I was born in Lima, Peru, and moved to Salt Lake at the age of 9. I’m the Communications and Marketing Coordinator for the Department of Theatre. I started working in the Department when I was studying Strategic Communication as an undergrad. This summer I’m finishing a Master’s degree in Health Promotion and Education at the U. Through my research in nutritional label literacy, I’m redesigning Front-of-Package Symbols (FOPs) to make nutrition information quicker and easier to notice, understand, and use in low-health-literacy populations. In the future, I hope to work with health programs that utilize art to promote wellness.

What has surprised you the most in your life?
The need to go back to my roots. The older I get, the more interested I am in Latin American writers, poets, musicians, and other artists. As a child, I dreaded listening to the music my grandparents played at family parties, but now those are the same songs I play to feel connected to my family abroad and to my memories of Peru. I never thought that I would play “La Flor de la Canela” by Chabuca Granda on my Spotify at work, or that I would be humming “En Barranquilla Me Quedo” while walking my dog.
For a long time, I neglected reading or listening to music in Spanish because I wanted to assimilate into the neighborhood where I grew up. I’m really thankful that during my time at University I was encouraged to embrace the different cultures I had lived in. TV series like “Jane the Virgin,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” and “One Day at a Time” similarly portray my experience of growing up around multi-generational Latinx people who speak Spanish, English, and other languages interchangeably. I love working in a community of storytellers who create bridges through art.

What do you wish you had known/been told?
I wish I had learned earlier the power of speaking for myself. In a Conflict and Resolution class during my undergrad, I learned about using “I” statements. Ever since, I feel as if I have been able to communicate more effectively with others.

Originally Published by: The Finer Points


Bill Parkinson retires from the U after 44 years

15 Jun , 2018  

Professor William “Bill” Parkinson has been teaching Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation and Movement at the University of Utah since 1974. This summer, he will be retiring after teaching over 10,000 students during his career at the University of Utah.

Bill graduated from the University of Utah Department of Philosophy in 1972. He was initiated into the Ananda Marga International Yoga Society in 1970, receiving the title Yogi Viirishwara in 1974. He implemented Utah’s first accredited college courses in Tai Chi and Yoga at Westminster College from 1972 to 1974. He began teaching Tai Chi for the University of Utah Modern Dance Department in 1974. He has taught Tai Chi and Yoga for the Exercise and Sports Science Department since 1979, and for the Department of Theatre since 1987.

Bill is listed as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher of the highest level (5,000+ hours of teaching experience) with the nationally accredited Yoga Alliance. He is a Tai Chi Chuan Master who is authorized to administer teacher-training and certification in both Tai Chi and Yoga. He has sponsored World Tai Chi Day at the University of Utah since 2002. This free event invites people of all ages and physical conditions to learn and practice different Chinese forms of exercise. He has been recognized by Governors Mike Leavitt, John Huntsman and Gary Herbert for his leadership of World Tai Chi Day (WTCD). WTCD has been declared a state holiday.

After his retirement, Bill will continue to teach his craft at a local Yoga and Tai Chi studio in Salt Lake City.

Please join us for a midday celebration to honor Bill for his decades of service and accomplishments at the University of Utah on June 20, at 12:00 p.m. in the Performing Arts Building.


Please Welcome Our New Department Chair, Harris Smith!

31 May , 2018  

The Department of Theatre is pleased to announce that Harris Smith will be serving as the next chair of our department beginning July 1, 2018.

Smith is joining us from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he served as an Associate Professor in Acting and Movement, the Director for the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, and as the former Head of the Professional Actor Training Program.  

His research and creative work focus on psycho-physical character development for the actor and choreographing violence for stage and film. He is a Certified Teacher of stage combat through the Society of American Fight Directors and a member of Actors Equity and SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild). He has worked as an actor and fight director at a number of regional theatres including Utah Shakespeare Festival, ACT in Seattle, St. Louis Black Repertory, Sacramento Theatre Company and Illinois Shakespeare Festival. He received the Meritorious Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival for Fight Choreography. His film and television credits include; Runaway Train Singles, Past Midnight, Amazing Grace & Chuck, Seven Hours to Judgment, Chips the War Dog, Lookin’ Good and Pandora’s Clock.  Recently, he served as the stunt coordinator and fight director for the short film, The Healing of Harmon (2018). He has been invited to present the lecture, “Characters in Conflict,” this summer at Sichuan University as part of the 2018 University Immersion Program in Chengdu, China.

“I’m enthusiastic about joining the Department of Theatre at the University of Utah. As an alum of the PAC 12, I’m excited to return to this excellent conference. I look forward to building upon the excellence of the department and commitment of the faculty towards their students.  It is my hope to deepen our relationships with communities in the Greater Salt Lake area and the state of Utah, as we continue to grow our national and international impact.”

In welcoming Harris Smith to his new position, the Department also thanks Gage Williams for his service and commitment to the Department of Theatre throughout his term as Chair.


Professor Gage Williams Celebrates Over 20 Years of Service in the Department of Theatre

2 May , 2018  

Gage Williams has been a highly valued member of the Department of Theatre for 24 years, serving as Department Chair the last 10 years. His expertise in stage design and film and TV production design have given him many experiences at the U, and at numerous professional companies, including the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare.

Williams first discovered a love of theatre by chance his sophomore year at Arizona State University, when he signed up for a non-majors acting class in order to keep his athletic eligibility. He immediately found a deep love for theatre and gave up playing football shortly thereafter. “My early goal was to be a film actor, and I assumed acting was the path to take,” Williams said. “I did love the few roles I played on stage, acting class, and rehearsals. But deep down I knew I was not that good, and I was not progressing as an actor.” After three years of acting courses, he took a required course in set design, which felt like a natural fit for him. He then switched his major and finished his BFA in Theatre Design and Production at ASU, and then earned his Master of Fine Arts Degree from Southern Methodist University, where he was mentored by the famed Broadway musical design team of Bill and Jean Eckart.

During his time at ASU, Williams got a job as a technical intern at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, where he was eventually promoted to Resident Assistant Set Designer. He assisted world renowned designers such as Ralph Funicello, sitting in on meetings with Jack O’Brien, and even assisting on a set for the world premiere of Neil Simon’s Jake’s Women. He then moved to LA and worked as a TV Art Director for the production designer Bruce Ryan. During that time he art-directed the MTV Music Awards, the Soul Train weekly show, and countless shows for MTV, ABC, CBS, and NBC, and won a CableACE award for his art direction of the Showtime special “Mastergate.”

Williams has been a member of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology since 1997. This year at their annual conference, his set design was selected to be featured in the summer edition of the Theatre Design & Technology magazine. This is the third time since 1998 that he has been selected for publication. This year was the seventh consecutive year that he was able to travel with a group of theatre design and stage management students to the conference. He says, “It’s a wonderful five-day event, every year, with workshops, distinguished guest speakers, and an opportunity to celebrate design production and management for the performing arts.”

At the conclusion of this school year, Williams will be stepping down as Department Chair and will take a year-long sabbatical. What he has loved most as Department Chair is empowering faculty and staff to provide students with transformative learning and on-stage opportunities: “I have always looked for ways to protect faculty and staff from too much busy work that keeps them from teaching, researching, and serving. Those three areas are where faculty can have the most impact on students and the institution as a whole.” During his sabbatical he plans to use some time to re-examine his teaching strategies, spend time traveling, seeing theatre and film, and reflect on the next chapter in his professional life.

To any aspiring artist, he provides these words of advice: “Do the math! Don’t graduate without understanding healthcare, retirement investing, how to get a mortgage, and how to do a personal balanced budget. You need to know what a personal budget looks like at $20,000 a year or less, at $30,000 or less, etc. Remember, it takes a ten-year commitment to become an artist. When you start the clock is your choice. At the end of the ten years, evaluate and learn to need less during the next ten years, so you can put the majority of your time into your personal development as an artist. Don’t saddle yourself with debt for things that are not necessities. Being a starving artist is a real thing. Embrace it!”

By Adam Griffiths, CFA

2016 University of Utah Theatre Department, Hello, Dolly!


Natural Shocks: Theatre Activism Against Gun Violence

18 Apr , 2018  

Support local artists and a fantastic organization this Friday, April 20 by attending “Natural Shocks” at 7:30 p.m. in the Babcock Theatre.

Directed by Department of Theatre Instructor Mark Fossen and starring Professor Sarah Shippobotham, this theatre activism piece against gun violence is a one night event produced by Pussycat Productions.

Modeled after her Inauguration Day project when she made her play The Taming available to theaters for royalty-free readings on January 20, 2017, Lauren Gunderson and her team of producers have coordinated an ambitious national campaign of theater activism against gun violence with royalty-free readings of her new play Natural Shocks taking place across the country April 19-23, 2018.

That timing is intentional: April 20 is the 19th anniversary of Columbine and the day of the National School Walkout, organized by the students activists in Parkland, Florida. Professional theaters, universities, high schools, and community groups are pairing their readings with town halls, audience talkbacks, and fundraisers for nonprofits like Everytown For Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action.

Learn more about the nation-wide campaign, here:

The Department of Theatre is lending our Babcock Theatre to Pussycat Productions for this event. Donations for Everytown for Gun Safety will be taken at the door in lieu of tickets.

RSVP at the event Facebook page:


Martin C. Alcocer, 2018 Outstanding Senior

17 Apr , 2018  

Congratulations to Martin C. Alcocer, our 2018 Department of Theatre Outstanding Student!

Martin was born in Mexico City and grew up in Salt Lake City. He is a dedicated and compassionate leader in the department who is graduating with a BFA in Stage Management.

During his time in the Department, Martin has served as stage manager for many productions in our department and in local theaters. Most recently he served as stage manager for Steel Pier in the Marriott Center for Dance and assistant stage manager for Newsies! at Pioneer Theatre Company.

Martin also has a passion for lighting design and has done the lighting design for Love’s Labour’s Lost (Studio 115), How Long Can You Stand… (Sackerson and Flying Bobcat), and Our Country’s Good (Babcock Theatre). He was the assistant lighting designer for HIR, Streetlight Woodpecker, and Harbur Gate at Salt Lake Acting Company.

The Department of Theatre faculty nominated Martin because of his commitment to the department, his fellow students, and the theatre community. He has taken leadership several years in a row by organizing and mentoring other students to go to the USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology). He describes his work as “high quality work that is achieved and demonstrated through collaboration, strong communication, and the understanding that we are all human.” He is a recipient of the Elizabeth Warner Scholarship, the Salt Lake Acting Company Scholarship, and Fine Arts Advisory Board Scholarship.

During his time in the College of Fine Arts

Most memorable moment:

I’ve had many memorable moments and it is not easy to pick one. Out of all the things I have enjoyed during my time in the College of Fine Arts, my most memorable moments are those in which I had the opportunity to create and collaborate with my peers. There are two times in particular which took place over a period of a few weeks: one was during the Department of Theatre’s production of Hello, Dolly!, and the other was during the production of Steel Pier. Both are memorable for similar reasons. They were both fairly large productions, and because of the large scale, they were both high stress. Despite this, everyone in the room was committed to creating a great production. The experience I gained from each show was immense, and the memories created are unforgettable. Having the opportunity to work on these shows will be of the most memorable.

One thing you learned at CFA:

During my time in the CFA, I learned about the power of networking, and the importance of balance. In this industry, networking is critical. The arts are often times heavily reliant on who you know. Having this knowledge early on has definitely aided me as I progressed through undergrad and started to build my network in Salt Lake and around the country. The other lesson I have learned is the need for balance. Even though I love what I do and am fortunate enough to be able to work doing what I love, I learned that only working was not healthy. You have to be able to step back and do something else, like spend time with family or friends, or have a hobby that is not related to work. Having learned this has greatly improved my stress levels, and I also feel like it has helped me better my craft.

What Inspires Martin

A main component from where I find my inspiration is through the reactions that I, along with everyone else I work with on a project, are able to evoke from an audience. With theatre, or any other type of performance art where I have been fortunate enough to work, I have been able to see and hear the impact that we, as artists, have on people’s lives. Whether we take them away from their worries and stress through a production, or we are able to spark a conversation and debate, what I, and everyone in the arts is able to do, has an impact. Knowing that I have a part of this is what inspires me.


While I was in the College of Fine Arts, I have had many fantastic opportunities. Within the Department of Theatre, I have worked, in some capacity, on nearly all of the productions whether it was as an electrician, light board programmer, or last-minute help. I also assistant stage managed and stage managed eight productions. I have been able to work at professional theatre companies, such as Salt Lake Acting Company and Pioneer Theatre Company, where I started in more entry level positions, like light board operator, and worked my way up to assistant stage manager on larger productions, such as The Count of Monte Cristo at PTC, or Saturday’s Voyeur at SLAC, where I even spent some time in the role of Stage Manager. I have also interned with Utah Opera on their production of Moby Dick. In addition to stage managing I have also assistant lighting designed at SLAC on Streetlight Woodpecker, Harbur Gate, and HIR. For the department, I designed lights for Love’s Labour’s Lost and Our Country’s Good. I currently work for Salt Lake County Center for the Arts as an On-Call Technical Director where I work at their various spaces, such as the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Capitol Theatre, and the new Eccles Theatre. In this position I ensure that their policies are followed, provide technical help, and verify that everything is done safely. Through this I have been able to interact with local art makers as well as with Broadway tours like, Something Rotten, An American in Paris, and Hamilton. Nationally, I have been a part of groups within the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT), which is the largest organization for theatre, entertainment, and performing arts professionals involved in the areas of design, production and technology. I was a part of the Gateway program, which aims to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in the industry as both a mentee and a peer mentor, and I was also a part of the Stage Management Mentorship Program. In the Stage Management Mentorship Program, I, along with twelve other students or young professionals from around the country and Mexico, was paired with a mentor who gave me the opportunity talk to and network with other stage managers who have worked on touring musical productions and opera, as well as with the Walt Disney Company, Cirque du Soleil, and on events like the Super Bowl. I was also assigned to stage manage the Keynote Address that opened the annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL this past March. I have also served as president of the University of Utah’s chapter of Young Designers and Technicians, a club which secures funding, and organizes the trip to send students to the USITT conference. conference. Through this club, we have sent between eight to fifteen students, each year to attend the conference.



“And Here We Are…” Senior MTP Showcase

5 Apr , 2018  

“And Here We Are…”

A story of our years in the MTP


The Musical Theatre graduating class presents “And Here We Are…”  The showcase is both a reflection and capstone for our graduating seniors of the Musical Theatre Program and will feature their wide-ranging and phenomenal talents.

The seniors have created a show that shares the story of their lives over the past four years–including the hard work, friendships, and lots and lots of dancing! Come and see the Class of 2018 in their very last University show!

The production runsApril 20-22 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee on April 22 at 2:00 p.m. in Studio 115. FREE tickets with RSVP at:

Musical numbers in And Here We Are… include:

“If You Knew My Story” – Bright Star

“For Forever” – Dear Evan Hansen (Part 1)

“Someone in the Crowd” – La La Land

“Soft Place to Land” – Waitress

“Everything I Know” – In The Heights

“Cell Block Tango” – Chicago

“I Don’t Need a Roof” – Big Fish

“And Here We Are…” by Lloyd Livengood, Zach Marquez, Makayla Cussen, and Bailey Cummings


A Talk with Ty Burrell and Chris DuVal

2 Apr , 2018  

Ty Burrell, best known for his role as Phil Dunphy in the ABC sitcom Modern Family, visited the Department of Theatre Friday, March 30 to talk about his life and career in front of Theatre students, faculty, and staff.

ATP Head Chris DuVal joined him on the Babcock Theatre stage where Ty shared his views about preparation, commitment, and his perspective about acting.

Ty Burrell is a long time Utah actor and resident. He worked for both the Pioneer Theatre Company and Utah Shakespeare Festival before he developed fame in his current role in Modern Family. He is a theatre trained actor from Penn State and has worked in London, Broadway, and in many regional theatres across the country. Ty and Chris originally acted together in Cedar City in the late 90’s and have remained close friends since that time.

Ty’s wife, Holly is an alumna of our Actor Training Program. Ty and his wife Holly are valued supporters of the Department of Theatre at University of Utah.

Thanks for visiting and spending your morning with us!

Photos by Todd Collins Photos



We close the 2017-18 season with “Our Country’s Good”

29 Mar , 2018  

We close the 2017-18 season with Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker, based on the novel “The Playmaker” by Thomas Keneally, April 6-15 in the Babcock Theatre. Directed by Actor Training Program Professor Sarah Shippobotham, this play-within-a-play is a story in which justice, power and the possibility of redemption come under scrutiny.

In Jan. 1788, the first of the British prison ships arrived at Botany Bay, Australia and settled the penal colony at Port Jackson, the site of current-day Sydney. Many of the prisoners had committed minor crimes and their wardens were military men who fought and lost the war against the American colonies. When hope and supplies run low, a lieutenant tries to increase morale by staging a comedy, The Recruiting Office” by George Farquhar, using the convicts as the cast.

The creative set of this modern classic designed by Department of Theatre’s technical director and associate professor Kyle Becker, aims to put the themes of this inspiring play at the fore. Performed by a cast of highly talented actors from the Actor Training Program and Musical Theatre Program, this production is set to be an innovative portrayal of the struggle for justice, power and humanity.

Stay after the show for a conversation with the cast and creative team about the production following the Friday, April 13 performance.

Our Country’s Good at a glance:

Dates and Times: April 6-8 and 12-15 at 7:30 p.m. with matinees on April 14 and 15 at 2 p.m.

Post-Performance Discussion: April 13.

Location: The Babcock Theatre, located at 300 S. and University Street (1400 East) in the Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, lower level. Free parking is available to the south of the theatre and at Rice Eccles Stadium.

Tickets: General Admission tickets are $18, University of Utah faculty and staff are $15, University of Utah students are free with UCard and all other students with valid student ID are $8.50. Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100, online at or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall. 


Public Presentations for Theatre Chair Candidates

28 Mar , 2018  

Please join us for the Public Presentations of our Theatre Chair Candidates

All presentations will happen in PAB/Studio 115 at 9:00 a.m. the following dates:

Candidate Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell March 29

Candidate Joe Price April 3

Candidate Kate Moncrief April 10

Candidate Harris Smith April 17


Cece Otto 2018 CFA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher

9 Mar , 2018  

Cece Otto is a senior in the Actor Training Program and Student Advisory Committee President for the Department of Theatre. She won the 2018 College of Fine Arts Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award for the creation of her original piece, Hyperthymesia, which she performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2017. Cece was awarded a UROP grant two semesters in a row, allowing her to fund the project under the supervision of her mentor and Assistant Professor, Robert Scott Smith.
“Scott taught my acting class the second semester of my freshman year, and ever since then I have been enamored with his passion for the theatre and creative ideas. His talent as a theatre maker is incredible, and working with him was so delightful. I knew he had a vast background in devising work with his theatrical laboratory, Flying Bobcat, and decided to take the opportunity to absorb some of his wisdom. He pushed me to work harder, while allowing me plenty of room to grow on my own.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity I had to spend time with him as a mentor.”
Recent projects Cece has worked on include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Pioneer Theatre Company, Harbur Gate at Salt Lake Acting Company, and Self Defense, or Death of Some Salesmen at the University of Utah.  She is the Marketing and Outreach Intern at UtahPresents, and was chosen to be an intern at Pioneer Theatre Company this past fall.  Additionally, she is a co-founder of WHO’S LOUIS?, a devised theatre company based in Salt Lake City, and enjoys being a “Big Sister” for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Utah.   She will be playing the part of Dabby Bryant in the Department of Theatre’s upcoming production of Our Country’s Good this April.  She is grateful to her family, friends, and teachers for their endless love and support.

Congrats, Cece!


Follow your dreams with “Up (The Man in the Flying Chair)”

6 Mar , 2018  

The Department of Theatre is thrilled to present the dramatic comedy written by Bridget Carpenter Up (The Man in the Flying Chair), a story that captures the essential truth about the lure of the impossible dream, its freedom, and its danger. Directed by Head of the Actor Training Program Chris DuVal, the production runs March 9-17 in Studio 115.

Up (The Man in the Flying Chair) is based on the real-life escapade of truck driver Larry Walters who attached 45 helium-filled weather balloons to a lawn chair and found himself 16,000 feet above the world, 20 years ago. He rose up from his backyard in San Pedro, California, was seen by commercial airliners, and drifted into controlled air space near Long Beach airport. Today he’s furiously holding onto his dreams and the faded memory of that glorious day, doing everything he can to keep his feet from touching the ground.

This is a story about breathtaking tension between hope and despair, “I love how we get to see inside Walter’s mind as he’s chasing a dream of who he is,” DuVal says. He creates an environment that doesn’t sacrifice the communal nature of making theatre—the inherent love of art making. “Theatre must always retain its joyful attitude,” he explains.

This production shows what it is to pursue one’s dream. To go on a hero’s journey where the destination is unknown, and the path uncertain, but that it is a calling of something that must be undertaken. “It’s a story that is needed now more than ever.”

“A brilliant play…original, poignant, moving, sad and funny. I have rarely sat in a theater audience that laughed so hard at one moment and, at the next, sat so still you’d swear you could hear the actors’ hearts beating together on stage.” – Eugene Register-Guard



“Up (The Man in the Flying Chair)” at a glance:
Dates and Times: March 9-11 and 15-17 at 7:30PM  with a matinee on March 17 at 2PM
Post-Performance Discussions: March 16
Location: Studio 115 in the Performing Arts Building, 240 S. 1500 East. Parking is available in the visitor’s lot to the south of the theatre, at Rice-Eccles Stadium or on Presidents Circle.
Tickets: General admission tickets are $18, U faculty and staff are $15, U students are free with UCard and all other students with valid student ID are $8.50. Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100, online or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall.
Age Recommendations: Ages 14+


‘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




‘Legacy’ A Memoir of Maud May Babcock

4 Jan , 2018  

Maud May Babcock is remembered at the University of Utah through its Babcock Theatre and the Babcock Performing Readers. Babcock was a determined and talented international figure who set the pace for students, politicians, businesses, fortune hunters, and noted Utah entertainers.

Utah’s first lady of theater and physical education, Babcock founded the Department of Speech and the Department of Physical Education at the University of Utah, and she was also the first woman given full professorship at the U. During the course of her lifetime, Babcock produced and directed over 300 plays, including Eleusinia, the first play produced by a university in the United States, and she was the driving force behind the Social Hall, the first university-subsidized professional theater in the United States. In addition to her work with drama and speech, Babcock served as president of the board for the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind as well as Chaplain of the Utah Senate, the first woman in the country to hold such a position.

Her story, Legacy will be performed by the Babcock Performing Readers and Murray Heritage Readers on January 11, 2018 at 7:30pm in the Union Building (Union Theatre). This  event is free to the public. For more information visit the Facebook event page or call 801-942-2431.


‘Eclipsed’ selected to attend KCACTF Region 8 Festival

20 Dec , 2017  

Eclipsed written by Danai Gurira, directed by Stephanie Weeks, produced by our Department in March of 2017, has been invited to attend Festival 50 in Mesa, Arizona at Mesa Community College February 13-17, 2018.

Eclipsed is one of six productions chosen to attend the KCACTF Region 8 festival in 2018. Other productions chosen include Where Words Once Were by Finegan Kruckemeyer, directed by Tracy Callahan, Weber State University (Utah); The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogo, adapted by Theatre Movement Bazaar and directed by Tina Kronis, Los Angeles City College (California); Man of La Mancha by Mitch Leigh, Joe Darion and Dale Wasserman, directed by bree valle, Cuesta College (California); Story Theatre by Paul Sills, directed by Kevin Dressler, Mesa Community College (Arizona); and Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage, directed by Linda Bisessti, California Polytechnic University, Pomona (California).

Eclipsed tells the story of five extraordinary women brought together by the upheaval of war in their homeland of Liberia. “A driving force behind the resolution of the conflict were the women of Liberia who came together because they were tired and angry at what war was doing to their country,” said director Weeks. Drawing on reserves of wit and compassion, Eclipsed reveals the courage and strength of the women who are often overlooked in a world where war endures, and women are still fighting to survive.

The brilliant all-black female cast traveling to Arizona includes Madelaine Lamah as Maima, Terryn Shigg as Bessie, Darby Mest as The Girl, ATP alumna McKenna Jensen as Helena, and local artist Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin as Rita. Other members from the original University of Utah production will also be traveling to the festival including scenic designer Megan Branson, lighting designer Michele Collins, costume designer Kerstin Davis, sound designer Shea Madson, stage manager Tahra Veasley, properties designer Lesli Spencer, dramaturg Catherine Heiner, and director Stephanie Weeks.

Congratulations to everyone involved with the University of Utah’s production of Eclipsed.


Alumnus William Copper Howell in “Hamilton” parody called “Spalmiton”

14 Nov , 2017  

Musical Theatre Program alumnus William Cooper Howell plays Lin-Manuel Miranda’s character in “Hamilton” parody called, “Spamilton.”

Read the entire the LA TIMES ARTICLE by Charles McNulty below.

‘Spamilton’: Musical spoof lands its punches softly, and with a smile

Gerard Alessandrini, the man behind the popular “Forbidden Broadway” series, has made his theatrical career spoofing his musical theater betters. He’s turned theatrical lampooning into an art form, sending up the excesses of bloated shows and caricaturing the mannerism of divas.

Alessandrini has had much to mock over the span of 25 “Forbidden Broadways,” from the fervid pop operas of Andrew Lloyd Webber to the empty-headed jukebox musicals that, until recently, had a commercial stranglehold on the American musical theater.

The success of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” has inaugurated a new and more promising era. The show, too much a game-changer to be crowded into a skewering revue, is the target of Alessandrini’s “Spamilton,” which opened last weekend at the Kirk DouglasTheatre.

The show (created, written and directed by Alessandrini) tweaks the familiar logo of “Hamilton” to leave no doubt about the teasing intentions. A pianist (music director James Lent) pounds away discreetly at the keys on a mostly bare stage. The ensemble is surprisingly populous, but the production still has the feeling of a small-scale cabaret.

“Spamilton” substitutes the story of Miranda, a Broadway revolutionary, for the story of Alexander Hamilton, the original American revolutionary. The rhymes of “Alexander Hamilton,” the opening number from “Hamilton,” are rejiggered to introduce Broadway’s reigning king, whose Tony-winning show has become one of the hottest tickets in the land.

How does a whipper snapper

Student of rap

And a Latin

Trapped in the middle of a

Manhattan flat

With Broadway accolades

While other writers kiss

The corporate dollar

Grow up to be a hip-hop op’ra


These words are sung by Wilkie Ferguson III, who plays Leslie Odom Jr., the “Hamilton” cast member who won a Tony for playing Aaron Burr. Hamilton’s rival is still bitterly competitive, though in “Spamilton” the two characters argue about artistic integrity, not politics.

Everyone knows that Lin-Manuel (William Cooper Howell) is destined to “build a better Broadway,” but it’s not going to be an easy road. Audiences like to stick to the familiar, and the commercial temptations and traps have grown only more extreme.

But this hot young talent means business. In “His Shot,” Lin-Manuel roars, “I am not gonna let Broadway rot” — and both the swagger and nobility of his ambition come through.

The structure of the show seems jury-rigged. The story readily gives way to gag numbers. Impersonations of Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand are de rigueur. The spirit of “Spamilton” is mostly adulatory, but Alessandrini, a shrewd observer of musicals, takes a few gentle shots at Miranda.

“Be terser in your verse, sir/You’re no Johnny Mercer,” critiques Odom in a rhyme that demonstrates Alessandrini’s own rap prowess. After “Hamilton” becomes a blockbuster, Lin-Manuel comes on and self-deprecatingly introduces himself: “I’m slightly obnoxious/Too broad, too pained/My voice is strained/and thin/I’m Lin-Manuel!”

The “Spamilton” cast infuses the show with nonstop energy. Zakiya Young summons Renée Elise Goldsberry as effectively as she conjures Audra McDonald and J-Lo. John Devereaux simulates the cool, lanky, big-haired eccentricity of Daveed Diggs.

Glenn Bassett, who plays crazy King George, camps it up in “Straight Is Back,” a “Penny Lane”-like ditty (converted, if you will, from “You’ll Be Back”) bemoaning the way “Hamilton” has made Broadway conspicuously less gay.

Some of the raillery, while funny, feels like overkill. The mash-up of shows, combinations that are like Frankenstein’s monster (“The Lion King and I”), might be more amusing in a nightclub serving drinks.

Yet Alessandrini detects more lyrical kinship between these composers than might be obvious to a civilian theatergoer. Sondheim’s deft wordplay seems like a precursor to Miranda’s rap style by the end of a section in which Renée repeatedly sings, “And another hundred syllables/Came out of his brain.”

“Spamilton” infuses original insights into a show that without these kernels might seem tiresomely broad. The musical unfolds as a sort of dream of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, who made “Hamilton” the “Camelot” of their administration. The production can get surreally silly at points, but Alessandrini treats Miranda’s masterpiece with the rambunctious love this watershed musical deserves.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


Where: Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays (call for exceptions); ends Jan. 7

Price: $55-$99 (subject to change)

Info: (213) 628-2772 or

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes (no intermission)


Brian Manternach: Taking the Art of Singing to a Whole New Level

27 Oct , 2017  

by Adam Griffiths

Brian Manternach, Assistant Professor (Clinical) in the U of U Department of Theatre, is a man of many hats. Like most voice teachers, he has an extensive performance career, but what makes him stand out are his numerous achievements in vocal science and pedagogy research. Brian is the chapter head of the local division of NATS (National Association for Teachers of Singing), an organization which meets regularly to discuss how to improve vocal pedagogy in the voice studio. Additionally he serves as Associate Editor, and regularly authors and co-authors articles in the NATS periodical The Journal of Singing. He also writes regularly in a book review column, “The Singer’s Library,” for the Classical Singer magazine.

Brian uses his love of vocal science to directly affect those he teaches. Last year he gave a talk at TEDxSaltLakeCity about why singing is an activity people should all be able to benefit from and enjoy. In that talk, he cited studies that indicate how singing can lead to increased physical and psychological well being. By the end of the talk, he had the entire audience singing “You Are My Sunshine” with him.

He says, “What draws me to singing the most is the opportunity to collaborate with others and to build relationships through the shared human experience of singing together. In the same way, the research projects in which I’m most interested do not involve one person hidden away in a lab somewhere. For me, it’s all about like-minded people who are enthusiastic about a topic sharing what they have to contribute in order to hopefully learn something new. And when we do find something new, it’s exciting to be able to share that through presentations, publications, and in our teaching.”

Coming from the performance and teaching world, Brian says that he doesn’t have the research background to do a lot of work on his own. He states, “I rely on others who have a much greater understanding of research methods and acoustic analysis techniques to help carry out the studies we do. I’m particularly indebted to the U’s National Center for Voice and Speech and their associate director, Dr. Lynn Maxfield — a brilliant voice scientist who is truly committed to bringing vocal science and art together.” This past June, Brian and Dr. Maxfield presented research in Philadelphia at the Voice Foundation’s Annual Symposium: Care of the Professional Voice. “For that study we played audio clips of professional and student singers for professional casting directors to see how the casting directors would evaluate their sound.” That research has recently been published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Voice, which is “widely regarded as the world’s premiere journal for voice and medicine and [voice] research.”

This month Brian presented at the Pan American Vocology Association (PAVA) Symposium in Toronto, in collaboration with Dr. Maxfield and Dr. Jeremy Manternach (his brother), an Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of Iowa. He will also present at the NATS Conference in Las Vegas next summer. Regardless of how busy he gets, he will always prioritize his work as a teacher. “I have had wonderful, inspiring, patient teachers throughout my life and I’m really passionate about doing my best to fill that role for others.”


On Artists and Inclusion

25 Oct , 2017  

By Dean John W. Scheib

In an environment where creativity is the currency, being different is of great value.

At the University of Utah College of Fine Arts, individuality is part and parcel to success. The ability to think unlike others is celebrated, the ability to communicate in ways that cross cultural boundaries is nurtured, and the ability to reflect even the less refined parts of our humanity is recognized as beautiful.

At our core, we deeply respect diversity.

Yet, on this campus, like many campuses across this nation, we find ourselves fraught with opportunity (need) to reiterate our commitment to inclusivity. And we’ll take every chance we get, because showing up every day to risk failure in the journey toward personal growth requires extraordinary courage – courage that we’d rather not be expended on the pursuit of personal safety or respect. Those, we hope, are innate and assumed here.

While we recognize that some of the greatest art comes from the expressions of devastation and heartbreak, we also know that senses of safety and belonging are paramount to fostering spaces where people feel secure enough to explore and create.

We have said before that All Are Welcome Here, and I’d like to reiterate it again. I acknowledge that none of us is perfect in this endeavor (and welcome the feedback when we’re not fully successful), and promise that the goal of nurturing and increasing the diversity in our classrooms, studios, theatres, halls and galleries will be among our top priorities as we embark on the College’s new strategic plan.

Authentic inclusivity is an art, and we look forward to mastering it with you.


Jesus Christ Superstar

16 Oct , 2017  

Department of Theatre student group, Open Door Productions presents Jesus Christ Superstar with an all-female cast, November 3-4 in Studio 115.

With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, Jesus Christ Superstar has wowed audiences for over 40 years. A timeless work, the rock opera is set against the backdrop of an extraordinary and universally-known series of events but seen, unusually, through the eyes of Judas Iscariot.

Loosely based on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Superstar follows the last week of Jesus Christ’s life. The story, told entirely through song, explores the personal relationships and struggles between Jesus, Judas, Mary Magdalene, his disciples, his followers and the Roman Empire.

The iconic 1970s rock score contains such well-known numbers as “Superstar,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and “Gethsemane.” This production is being performed by a top-notch all-female cast from the University of Utah Department of Theatre. Reserve tickets to see this incredibly famous story told from a completely different point of view.

Reserve free tickets


Playful, Poetic, Language-obsessed “Love’s Labour’s Lost”

10 Oct , 2017  

Terri McMahon from Oregon Shakespeare Festival joined us this fall to direct Shakespeare’s sophisticated early comedy, Love’s Labour’s Lost, showing in Studio 115 October 20-29.

Terri has been an artist at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for over 25 years acting in nearly 50 productions playing over 75 roles from Shakespeare, Moliere and Ibsen to new works by Robert Schenkkan and Lynn Nottage. She has directed as well as adapted OSF School Visit Program touring performances; devised an OSF Green Show called Give It Up for Elizabethan-ness; directed OSF staged readings and has both acted and directed multiple times in OSF’s The Black Swan Lab for new play development. She wrote and directed Sweetly Writ, a collaboration between OSF and the University of Oregon which played at the Hult Center in Eugene celebrating the University’s Shakespeare First Folio Exhibition.

In addition to her classical work, Terri is sought after for developing new plays, both as director and actress, and has collaborated with numerous award-winning contemporary playwrights. Her extensive teaching career spans from third-grade arts education students to professionals working on high-performance communication. During her time at the U, she was been working closely with the cast members of Love’s Labour’s Lost to perform Shakespeare as authentically as possible. “We looked at Shakespeare language support books that define every word in every play, sonnet, and narrative poem that he wrote,” Terri said, “After you have performed Shakespeare, almost any other playwright can seem so much easier because of the workout your brain, your vocal apparatus and your ability to sustain long difficult thoughts has offered you with Shakespeare.”

Through witty and playful banter, Love’s Labour’s Lost tells the story of the King of Navarre and his three court followers, who swear they will speak to no women during their three-year “academy” study period. But the instant they take that vow, the Princess of France arrives with her three captivating female attendants, and all bets are off.

Guest Director Terri McMahon says, “Love’s Labour’s Lost has more sexual innuendo, more puns (just under 200), and more triple layers of philosophical meanings on top of the puns’ double meanings, that Shakespeare manages to out-funny bone any YouTube trender.” Terri says that Shakespeare humor “has endured because when an actor understands the joke inherent in the language and their need for their character to say it, the same kind of builds, pauses, and punch line deliveries span the centuries. Watch Jim Gaffigan. You’ll see a Shakespeare standup clown.”

Buy tickets for Love’s Labour’s Lost

By Adam Griffiths, CFA Grad Assistant
and Josiane Dubois


Professor Jerry Gardner to present at Annual Multifaith Public Conversation in Edinburgh

5 Oct , 2017  

Lama Thupten Rinpoche (Professor Jerry Gardner) will present at this year’s Annual Multifaith Public Conversation. His title is Compassionate body: spiritual practice and development. At the lecture Gardner will bring the wisdom and compassion  of his Buddhist practice and his expertise in dance and theatre. His presentation will involve word and movement.  Gardner says about his work, “In our theatre program at the University of Utah, our focus is on creativity, the body and its expressive, compassionate nature.”

Professor Gardner teaches coursesin movement to students in the Actor Training Program at the U. He holds a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies with an emphasis in ritual and meditation from the Ngagyur Samten Chockhorling Institute, located in the city of Manali in Himachal Pradesh, India. He performs and teaches numerous movement systems including Butoh, Viewpoints, Noh Theatre, illusionary and corporeal mime, mask work, ballet and contemporary dance, Pilates, Laban/Barteneiff, and the martial arts of karate, kung fu and tai chi.

In 1994, Professor Gardner established the Urgyen Samten Ling Gonpa (the Tibetan Buddhist Temple), and was ordained a Lama in 1997 by the late Khenchen Thupten Ozer and Khenpo Konchok Monlam Rinpoche.

Professor  Gardner is the co-owner, director and master instructor of Red Lotus School of Movement where he teaches advanced courses in Wing Chun Kung Fu and Tai Chi Chu’an. “Sifu” Gardner has earned the titles of Seventh Level Black Sash in Wing Chun Kung Fu under Master Sifu Duncan Leung, a direct disciple of Grandmaster Yip Man; Fourth Dan Black Belt in Neisi Goju under Master Chaka Zulu; and Fifth Dan Black Belt under Master Ronald Van Cleif. In Tai Chi Chu’an, Sifu Gardner studied Yang Style with disciples of Master Cheng Man Ch’ing

(Jonathan Gaines, Maggie Newman, Ed Young, Lou Kleinsmith, and Jane and Batan Fargo), Tung Style with Master Bing Lee, and Chi Quiong with Master Chan.

Professor Gardner is an accomplished teacher and dancer of Butoh. He studied in Japan with the co-founder of this unique art form, Kazuo Ohno; Yukio Waguri, a disciple of Tatsumi Hijikata; and Yushito Ohno, the late Kazuo Ohno’s son and current director of the Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio. He has also studied with Diego Piῆon of Butoh Ritual Mexicano. He is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Allen Gardner Dance Theater, a company dedicated to the integration of numerous movement and dance forms to create engaging theatrical performances.

Read the article, The Way of Motion here.


Professor Xan Johnson on Autism study

2 Oct , 2017  


Harrison Bryan, left, as Christopher Boone and Michael Rudko as Voice Four in Pioneer Theatre Company’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” Brent Ubert

Professor Xan Johnson is in the process of launching a theatre-based intervention program for the development social communication skills, theory of mind skills, and drama skills in preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Social skill deficit is a hallmark feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that contributes to significant disability. An effective intervention fostering generalizable social skill development in children with ASD remains elusive.

Children and adolescents with autism have a surplus of synapses in the brain, and this excess is due to a slowdown in a normal brain “pruning” process during development, according to a study by neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). The over-pruning hypothesis proposes that social skill impairments, among others, derive from an aberrant neural pruning process that occurs during early childhood.

As pruning targets weak neural connections and experience strengthens connections, interventions occurring just before critical pruning periods in the neural areas supporting targeted skills should be most effective. Peak synaptic number in areas involved in social skills occurs between age 3 and 5, just prior to pruning, which potentially make it a time most optimal for intervention.

The intervention proposes that theatre programs may offer an effective intervention to foster social skill development in this population. Theatre may be a particularly effective medium due to its ability to create specific learning experiences in a manner that provides embodied cognition and emotional experiences without conscious commitment to abstract social skill improvement goals. The scenes can be tailored to emphasize social and emotional cues and explicit identification of scene-related feelings for the formation of social cognitive and emotional memories that can be recalled as the basis for later social functioning.

However, children with ASD have unique needs surrounding communication, cognition and sensory processing. While theatre teachers are not typically trained to address these problems, speech language pathologists and occupational therapists are adept at addressing those issues. Therefore, the intervention hypothesizes that an interdisciplinary theatre program that combines creative process drama, story dramatization, play devising, and other children’s theatre techniques adapted using speech language pathology, and occupational therapy techniques provided to children with ASD who are between the ages of 3 and 5 will enhance the social skills in this population.

Original article from the Deseret News below:

SALT LAKE CITY — Researchers and scientists preparing to conduct a study are accustomed to reading existing literature, finding a pool of test subjects, applying for funding and filling out approval paperwork.

But for a team of researchers at the University of Utah, their preparation process also included a night out at the theater.

Xan Johnson, head of the University of Utah’s theater teaching program, is in the process of launching a study with a team of researchers involved in occupational therapy, communication studies, psychology and brain imaging to determine how providing early exposure to drama classes can benefit children with autism in the long run.

The group is currently looking for participants for the study, and as they prepare to move into the next phase of the project, Johnson had the idea to attend a production of Pioneer Theatre Company’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” which runs through Sept. 30 and follows the experiences of an autistic boy.

“It was very important for me to take my research team (to the play), who are not theater people per se, and they were deeply moved,” Johnson said in an interview with the Deseret News. “I said to Chris Lino (PTC’s managing director) as I was walking out, ‘The scientists cried.’”

In the play, which is based on the novel by Mark Haddon, actor Harrison Bryan plays 15-year-old Christopher Boone, who is autistic and struggles in social situations but has a great talent for math. When Christopher is wrongfully accused of killing his neighbor’s dog, he embarks on a quest to figure out what actually happened to the dog.

Harrison Bryan, left, as Christopher Boone and Sara Shippobotham as Voice One in Pioneer Theatre Company’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”
Brent Uberty

“I thought the way (Bryan) portrayed (Christopher) was pretty accurate based on my own patients and what I’ve experienced in my clinic,” said Michael Johnson, a neuroscience-imaging researcher and child and adolescent behavior health specialist at the University of Utah who is part of Xan Johnson’s research team. “So for people who don’t know autism, I thought the play did a great job for opening people’s eyes of how a person with autism tries to interface with the world.”

Xan Johnson’s area of academic interest is in social cognitive neuroscience as he understands it from the perspective of theater. He has spent his career using theater as an educational tool to help teens and elementary school-aged children. He and several of his other team members knew they wanted to do a study to see how participating in theater can train children with autism in life skills, but it was Michael Johnson who suggested they focus on preschool-aged children.

“If you intervene early and aggressively with lots of intervention earlier — as early as you can — then you increase probability that you’ve changed the longterm outcome of whatever the biology is that’s driving the autism,” Michael Johnson said. “There’s more brain cell plasticity that we might be able to take advantage of if we hit this early.”

The study will expose a group of children with autism and a group of typically developing children to drama therapy multiple times a week for several months. Along the way, evaluations will be done to see the effects of the therapy on the children. The therapy will be led by Penny Caywood, artistic director of Youth Theatre at the U.

“We did a feasibility study last summer … and now we’re ready to go; now we’re fired up,” Xan Johnson said. “We’re going to launch as soon as we find our population of at least five (autism spectrum disorder) 3 and 4-year-olds and three or four typically developing to be in our drama group.”

Many other types of intervention have been tested through the years to help children with autism with social skills, but Michael Johnson said the potential benefits offered by drama therapy are unique.

“I think the drama interventions have the potential to go beyond what more limited social skills groups do to bring the child more into the role of understanding others and taking on perspectives,” he said.

Harrison Bryan as Christopher Boone in Pioneer Theatre Company’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”
Brent Uberty

“There is a great dependency for individuals with autism on the skill of scripting,” Xan Johnson also explained. “Immediately when you say scripting, you think instantly of theater and scripts.”

Michael Johnson said he didn’t have any theater experience before he began working with Xan Johnson, but he’s seen how the study provides an opportunity for multiple disciplines to work together.

“It’s been part of this collaborative effort with how can we bring psychiatry, neuroscience and the humanities together,” he said. “The humanities have long sustained mankind in multiple ways through multiple centuries and millennia and we know that there’s healing potential.”

Both Xan and Michael Johnson said PTC’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is an important play because it brings community awareness to what someone with autism experiences. According to the Center for Disease Control, autism affects 1 in 68 children in the United States.

“What we hope about using theater as an intervention to help preschoolers with autism better navigate a complex social world is the same hope we have for theater patrons attending (‘The Curious Incident’),” Xan Johnson said. “Such a transformational impact on theater patrons might change lives, and we hope the same is true for our preschoolers.”

The researchers are currently seeking preschool-aged participants for the study. For additional information, contact Megan Raby at 612-325-9802 or



2017 Distinguished Alumnus, Odai Johnson

11 Sep , 2017  

The Distinguished Alumni Award was created to recognize the extraordinary achievements and contributions to the arts by alumni of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah. The Legacy Assembly began ten years ago during the 60th anniversary celebration of the founding of the College and since then it has honored over 50 distinguished alumni.

This year, the Department of Theatre will honor Professor Odai Johnson who received his MFA from the Department of Theatre at the University of Utah and his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. His articles have appeared in Theatre JournalTheatre SurveyNew England Theatre JournalTheatre Symposium and the Virginia Magazine of History as well as contributions to numerous anthologies. His books include Rehearsing the Revolution (University of Delaware 1999), The Colonial American Stage: A Documentary Calendar (AUP: 2001), Absence and Memory on the Colonial American Stage (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2005),  London in a Box (Iowa 2017), and Ruins: Classical Theatre and the Archeology of Memory (University of Michigan), as well as contributor to the Oxford Handbook of Dance and TheatreOxford Handbook of The Georgian Theatre, the Oxford Handbook of American Drama. His courses range from the classical past, to the Baroque, the Early Modern, the Long 18th century, and historiography. Professor Johnson holds the Floyd and Delores Jones Endowed Professorship in the Arts.

The festivities will officially begin on Tuesday, Sept. 26 where Professor Johnson will teach a master class designed for interaction with students and faculty of the Department of Theatre. On the same day, College of Fine Arts student leaders from the ArtsForce program will get the opportunity to have lunch with Professor Johnson and the other recipients. The Distinguished Alumni Awards Legacy Assembly will begin Sept. 27 at 12:00 p.m. in Kingsbury Hall. Students, faculty, staff, as well as the general public, are all invited to honor and celebrate Professor Johnson, and the other Distinguished Alumni Award recipients from the College of Fine Arts at the assembly.

by Josiane Dubois


“Life is a party, Why don’t you come to the Steel Pier?”

6 Sep , 2017  

The University of Utah’s Department of Theatre opens the 2017-18 season in full swing with Steel Pier, a crowd-pleasing musical that will have audiences toe-tapping from their seats. Directed and Choreographed by Musical Theatre Head Denny Berry, the production runs Sept.15-24 at the Marriott Center for Dance, 330 S. 1500 E. Onstage seating for Steel Pier will be available first come, first served, with general admission ticket. 

Set on the famous Steel Pier in Atlantic City, this energetic musical brings together an assortment of relentless souls, eager to dance their way into fame and prizes. Bill Kelly, an adventurous pilot, falls out of the sky and into the arms of Rita Racine, a dancer and the wife of evil Steel Pier manager Mick Hamilton. Entertainment and plenty of razzle-dazzle dancing ensue when Rita and Bill pair up for the marathon competition. Created by John Kander and Fred Ebb who wrote the music and lyrics to Chicago, Cabaret, and other Broadway classics, Steel Pier perfectly captures the vivacious rhythms of the 1930s-dance era. 

Dancing competitions have made a big comeback, thanks to shows like ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ Department of Theatre Chair and Set Designer for this production Gage Williams, has designed a set that allows several audience members to sit onstage during the entire performance to experience the phenomenal music and infectious singing up-close. 

“Life is a party, why don’t you come to the Steel Pier?”

“Steel Pier” at a Glance

Dates and Times: Sept. 15-17 and 21-23 at 7:30 p.m.
Matinees Sept. 16, 17, 23 and 24 at 2:00 p.m.

Location: Marriott Center for Dance at the University of Utah is located at 330 South 1500 East. Free parking is available to the south of the theatre and at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Tickets: General Admission tickets are $18, University of Utah faculty and staff are $15, University of Utah students are free with UCard and all other students with valid student ID are $8.50. Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100, online at or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall. 

Content warning: Recommended for patron ages 14 and up. Mature audiences only.

by Josiane Dubois


2017-18 Season Brochure

31 Jul , 2017  

The Department of Theatre’s 2017-18 Season Brochure is now available.

This year’s brochure includes our productions, professional affiliates, partnering productions, and a section spotlighting featured students. Pick up a copy in the Department of Theatre’s main office PAB 206 or view online now.


How long can you stand on the train tracks: a game for two sisters

7 Jul , 2017  

Sackerson and Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory present a new collaboration:

How long can you stand on the train tracks: a game for two sisters

In the basement of the Pioneer Memorial Building on the University of Utah Campus sits the Babcock Theatre. Sackerson and Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory will premiere a new play by resident playwright Morag Shepherd. A wild painting of two sisters facing trains barreling down the tracks, this play runs July 7, 8 , 9, 13, 14, 15, 16 @ 7:30 PM.

Tickets are $18-25 at

A game. A train. An echo of death.
A game for two sisters. Two sisters: Charlie and Pepper—both in love with Grayson. Their father is a digger, a stranger. Their mother has kaleidoscopes for eyes.
A train and a question. It’s coming nearer, nearer; it’s almost here, it’s almost here — it was never here. Was it ever here?
An echo of love. Love that tastes like the ocean, and steel, and glass in your eyes.



About Morag Shepherd (playwright)
Playwright Morag Shepherd, originally from Scotland, is the resident playwright at Sackerson in Salt Lake City, where her plays BURN, THE WORST THING I’VE EVER DONE (performed in a box by one actor for an audience of one at a time), BEFORE THE BEEP (performed in weekly installments via voicemail) and POPPY’S IN THE SAND have premiered, the latter also playing Great Salt Lake Fringe and San Diego International Fringe Festivals.

Flying Bobcat is a theatrical laboratory dedicated to exploring the possibilities of storytelling in performance through language, movement, technology, and design. Recent collaborations include; In March 2016 the World Premiere of Climbing With Tigers, adapted for the stage by Troy Deutsch, based on the book by Nathan Glad and Dallas Graham Produced by Salt Lake Acting Company in collaboration with Flying Bobcat and Red Fred Project. Climbing was a new devised work involving animation and live action and was featured in American Theatre Magazine May 2016.

About SACKERSON (Salt Lake City, UT)
Sackerson is a nonprofit, Salt Lake City-based theatre company with a focus on new works, unconventional venues, and bold audiences. Recent works include the immersive dance theatre experience SONDER, yoga-studio-based BURN, and the mobile theatre box for one patron at a time production of THE WORST THING I’VE EVER DONE.


University of Utah names new dean of College of Fine Arts

22 Jun , 2017  

Photo: Marc Reyes

University of Utah Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Ruth Watkins announced that John W. Scheib, director of the School of Music at University of Kentucky, has accepted the offer to serve as the next dean of the College of Fine Arts.

Following the completion of the appointment approval process, Scheib will begin on July 1, 2017.

“We are delighted to welcome professor Scheib to this key leadership role at the U,” said Watkins. “His record of achievement as a scholar, educator, leader and champion of the arts is remarkable.”

After earning his master’s and doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in music education, Scheib began his academic career at Ball State University where he held a number of leadership positions, including director of the School of Music. For the past three years, he has served as the director of the School of Music at the University of Kentucky. In that role, Scheib has implemented several well-regarded budget and personnel initiatives. He has significant experience with capital campaigns and has developed programming aimed at improving student and faculty success, as well as enhancing access to the arts. He is recognized for his talent as a keen listener who works with his team, including community members, to build and enact vision and strategy to advance the arts.

Scheib’s research in music education is rooted in his experience as a music teacher in the Wisconsin public schools for nine years. He focuses on, among other things, the beliefs and practices of music teachers and their students and music education reform. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including the Journal of Research in Music Education and the Journal of Music Teacher Education.

“I am excited to be joining a college and university with such a strong commitment to the development of creative and innovative leaders and citizens,” said Scheib. “Our roles as artists, arts scholars and arts educators are vital as we provide key opportunities for students to develop the wide range of intelligences and skills necessary for 21st century success.”

The search for the replacement of esteemed Raymond Tymas-Jones, who served as dean for 12 years and who will remain as the U’s associate vice president for the arts, began in fall 2016. The committee, led by College of Humanities Dean Dianne Harris and School of Music associate professor Jessica Nápoles, included members of the college’s faculty, staff, students and Advisory Board, as well as members of the community and professional arts affiliates on campus.