“Eclipsed” a piece of untold history

27 Feb , 2017  

Eclipsed is the story of five extraordinary women brought together by the upheaval of war in their homeland of Liberia. During the chaos of the second Liberian Civil War, the captive wives of a rebel officer group together to shape a fragile community, until the balance of their lives is upset by the arrival of a new girl. 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 for Eclipsed include members from the Department of Theatre with McKenna Kay Jensen as Helena, Terryn Shigg as Bessie, Darby Mest as The Girl, Madaeline Lamah as Maima, and local artist Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin as Rita. Eclipsed is directed by New York Artistic Director, Stephanie Weeks.

The Stanford Daily claimed Eclipsed as “a celebration of diversity and the mighty power of women, Eclipsed is the perfect piece for educating and entertaining a modern American audience on issues which typically go unseen and unreported.” Capturing a piece of untold history about women who come together, fight against the war, and bring peace to their homeland of Liberia, Eclipsed is an inspiring tale of hope, humor, and resilience.

The production runs March 3-11 in Studio 115 in the Performing Arts Building, 240 S. 1500 E. There will be a panel discussion with U of U faculty on March 9, and a post-show discussion with the cast and creative team on March 10. Tickets available at tickets.utah.edu.


“Dogfight” a must-see!

14 Feb , 2017  

Speckled with comedy, love, and tragedy, Dogfight takes its audience on a heartbreaking and powerful journey that changes even the strongest soldiers.

The Department of Theatre opened the spring season with Dogfight, a romantic and witty musical adaptation of the 1991 movie with River Phoenix and Lili Taylor. Winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical in 2013, Dogfight is directed and choreographed by Denny Berry.

The play is set on November 21, 1963.  On the eve of their deployment to a growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery and partying. But when Corporal Eddie Birdlace (Jesse Klick) meets Rose (Liz Terry), an awkward waitress he volunteers to win a brutal bet with his fellow recruits. “Dogfight is the story of the timeless tragedy of the effects of war on youth. Beyond that, it’s also the story of how one young woman’s sense of self awakens the power of compassion in a young man,” says Berry.

The production stars undergraduate theatre students including Javier Flores as “Bernstein”, Sky Kawai as “Boland,” Mikki Reeve as “Marcy”; and Actor Training Program Professor Sarah Shippobotham as “Mama.” The production incorporates a vividly large and dynamic set designed by instructor Thomas George with a live band conducted by instructor Alex Marshall. The production runs September 16-25 in Babcock Theatre, 330 S. 1500 E. There will be a post-performance discussion with the cast and creative team on February 10, and a panel discussion with U of U faculty members on February 17.

Dogfight reviews:

Utah Theatre Bloggers

Broadway World 



Actors from “Arcadia”

16 Nov , 2016  


Daniel Amsel (Septimus Hodge)

Arcadia is a very intense, intellectual show. My character, in particular, demands that I am smart and deceitfully emotional. This is something that is difficult for me to do in my personal life, so this rehearsal process has been full of a lot of self-reflection and I’ve grown a lot personally because of it. I love the wit of this show! Everyone’s ideas bounce off each other so smoothly and powerfully. When everyone in the cast is attuned to each other, the amount of energy between the lines is palpable. It’s really something amazing, and not all plays manage to create that! I imagine people think plays with people sitting around a talking sounds horribly boring. I’d like to prove then wrong. It’s a magical, exciting, dangerous 3-hour play that puts you in the edge of your seat!

Ashley Patlan (Lady Croom)

This rehearsal process has been really unique for me. We focused more on the text and understanding how the thoughts of the characters move through it, rather than just getting it up on its feet as soon as possible. This was quite refreshing, as I feel that this approach allowed me to understand what I was saying/what was being said about my character and how we were saying it before we could even get it blocked and into our bodies. Working with Sarah has been really quite wonderful and a dream come true. I’ve always admired her and her work and so it was truly lucky to have this opportunity. She doesn’t sugar-coat anything and pushes me to the maximum, but does so in a way that it stokes a fire in me to want to do better. I’ve never had a director who was so passionate to find and bring to light the absolute best in everyone’s abilities. She’s unique in the best way possible. I love everything about this show—from the time periods, to the dialect, to the language, to the lighting, attire, music, cast, crew, etc. This show is beautiful in every way possible. People should come see this show because it’s funny, heartwarming, and witty and makes you see things in ways you haven’t considered before. It has humor, language, maths, science, love, sex, fire, tortoises – It has it all!

Gavin Yehle (Gus and Augustus)

It feels amazing being in my first U of U show! I feel like I’ve been waiting these two years for this opportunity. But now that the whole thing is coming to fruition, it doesn’t really feel much different from any other show that I’ve been in before. I definitely think that the first two years of school have really prepared me for the show and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of the tools in order to make the acting the best it can be. This show is definitely quite complex. There are all kinds of things that come back later, or are referenced in a different part of the show, and it’s all of these little connections that make the show so interesting. I also really love that I get to play the character that becomes sort of the crossover between the two different time periods; the last scene, which is when this crossover comes to fruition, is definitely my favorite part of the show, and I really love the ambiguity of the two characters coming together. It is a really beautiful show with amazing costumes, set, lighting, and sound design that really adds to the show. I’m happy that I get to watch the beauty of the very last scene every night as I come onstage.

Kali Scott (Hannah Jarvis)

Arcadia is very complex and driven by energy, character, and relationships. There is a lot to play with and I always have to be on my toes! Also, everyone involved in the production is great to work with. Sarah Shippobotham has the ability to direct people into beautiful, human moments and the play is full of them. It’s funny, sarcastic, sexy, smart, and everyone shines. I’ve never done an accent before, so that’s been challenging and fun. It has been challenging for me to find the ease and subtly, yet driving energy of this world. This play focuses a lot on enigmatic complexity of the world and humans, so finding a way to fully express multiple aspects of a moment or character, giving each its equal due without focusing too much on the moment, has been an exciting adventure.


Joshua Wood (Bernard Nightingale)

It has been a lot of fun. We spent a lot of time analyzing the text as it is a hugely argument driven play. After analyzing language we spent some time building our characters and the world. It has been a very exciting show to work on and I feel like I have learned an incredible amount in the process. This show is a lot more language based than most. It also requires a huge amount of energy. I Love how funny and clever it is while exploring many subjects including sex, literature, math, science, and philosophy. Because it is funny, entertaining, and most of all, it will give you something to think and talk about! The most challenging part has been keeping up the energy and learning to think through each argument every time I say them.

Monica Goff (Chloe Coverly)

The rehearsal process for Arcadia has been really fun and exciting, particularly since we have been working extensively on a lot of different things so we’re always engaged and always working, even when we’re not in rehearsal. Working with Sarah has been really helpful because I have her as my professor for two classes, so we’ve been in constant conversation about acting, text, and how to apply what we’re learning to Arcadia and things we learn during rehearsal to our classes. I am so excited to be in my first show at the U! It’s really thrilling to finally get to apply the skills that we’ve been spending hundreds of hours working on for the past 2 years. I love that this show is really text heavy. It makes you think while you’re watching it and it’s really a challenge to stay in the moment on stage. People should come to see Arcadia because it’s funny, intellectual, and visually stunning!

Arcadia runs November 17-20 at 7:30 p.m. and 19 and 20 at 2:00 p.m. at the Babcock Theatre.

By: Kim Davison