Alumni

Alumni,Spotlight

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 www.cinderellaonbroadway.com 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 https://www.cinderellaonbroadway.com/ 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 https://www.cinderellaonbroadway.com/

Alumni,Spotlight

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 josi.dubois@utah.edu

Alumni,Spotlight

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 josi.dubois@utah.edu

Alumni,Faculty,Productions,Spotlight,Students

‘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.

Alumni,Spotlight

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

Scholar?

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.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

‘Spamilton’

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 www.centertheatregroup.org

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